Separating yourself out breeds selfishness and greater feelings of emptiness and aloneness—a perfect place to be devoured by the enemy. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the […]
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Set Your Mind On Things Above:Men of prayer needed
(Colossian 3:1-4) 1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
In the church today we are constantly looking for some new method or program to cause people to come to church. We are always looking for some new way and some new program. But how does God say that a Church should grow? Take a look at Acts 2:42. There are four things mentioned for Church growth right here in the text. There is a fifth one that we will look at later, but these are the essentials.
Doctrine: Teaching the whole counsel of God. The Word of God
Fellowship: Keeping together as a family. Church is not supposed be a bunch of people gathered together on Sunday only. It was meant to be a family. Strong bonds that keep people to together in the Love of Christ and in the sharing with one another. That is fellowship.
Breaking of Bread: This is communion. A Fellowship with each other and with the Lord. Remembering that the reason why we have fellowship is because we are all grafted into the family of God by the shedding of the precious blood of Jesus. Our fellowship is not just friendship. It is much deeper than that. It is family because we are together in Christ.
In Prayers: This is the one that I want to talk about today. Prayer. Communing with God and laboring in prayer with Him.
The Church today does not need more programs. What the church needs is praying men and women. The church needs people who are willing to commit themselves to prayer and labor in it with God for the communities in which they live.
We need to be given over to prayer that God would change us and make us more like Him. How can we overcome sin in our lives? How can we be holy? How can we see our lives transformed?
Have you ever looked at someone that you respected as a great Christian leader and said, “I wish I could live like that!” I know that I have. I see men like Martin Luther or Robert Murray McCheyne or Jonathan Edwards or William Wilberforce or John and Charles Wesley and think, “How could I ever be like them?”
They were not anyone necessarily special. They were just willing to surrender their lives to Jesus. They were willing to sacrifice time and busy-ness for prayer and supplication. They were willing to be in the presence of God and God used that time to impart to them their marching orders.
Too often we march and then pray that God would bless our marching.
This ought not to be!
Let me ask you a question. Do you want to see this community changed for God? Do you want to see God do a miracle in your life? Do you desire a closer walk with Jesus? Let me hear you! Do you want these things in your life? Or are you just playing church?
If you want things to change in your life, if you want a passion for God if you desire a life lived in holiness before God don’t try to do things on your own or in the flesh! No!
Devote yourself completely and thoroughly to prayer. "A pastor may make the sermon, but prayer makes the pastor." When we do this, we see that God does incredible things.
Our Sufficiency is of God, our ministry begins and ends with God
(2 Corinthians 3:5) 5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Our sufficiency is from God. Any ministry or usefulness that we have as believers must be God-touched, God-enabled and God-made. We can not and must not ever believe that we in and of ourselves are able to do anything for God. We must always depend completely and wholeheartedly upon His moving in us and the power of His Spirit within us.
We are not sufficient in ourselves. We are not able, ourselves, to do any work for God. Jesus said, “4"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
How do we abide in Christ? By being in prayer before Him and finding out what He wants done. Communication is key in any organization. If we are not communicating with the Head of the Church, then how can we know what He wants us to do?
We can not rely upon our own thoughts or even what “seems” to be the right thing to do. Often times God does things that are out of the norm and out of our ability to understand. We must rely upon Him and His strength in our lives. It is the only way we can truly follow Him in holiness and have an impact on those around us.
Let me tell you this, though, if you want to “look” successful and desire to do the latest thing, you might achieve this, but your ministry will be unfruitful in the Spirit and you will end up destroying people rather than bringing them into the life of the Spirit and into the presence of God.
Tendencies to Be Avoided
Quote: “Let us often look at Brainerd in the woods of America pouring out his very soul before God for the perishing heathen without whose salvation nothing could make him happy. Prayer––secret fervent believing prayer––lies at the root of all personal godliness. A competent knowledge of the language where a missionary lives, a mild and winning temper, a heart given up to God in closet religion––these, these are the attainments which more than all knowledge, or all other gifts, will fit us to become the instruments of God in the great work of human redemption.” ––Carrey’s Brotherhood, Serampore.
There are two tendencies to be avoided. One: To desire holiness so much that you spend more time with God but less time with people. Two: To spend more time developing your relationship with people than with God. (Philippians 1:21-24) 21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Since our sufficiency comes from Christ, it is easy for us to desire to be with Him above any other people. It is natural for us to love and long for God. I know that I have loved my times in prayer with God so much that I did not want to stop praying! I wanted to continue on and on in prayer.
However, we are in prayer specifically to receive from the Lord and bring it back to people. We are never to have a “holier than thou” attitude because we pray more or because we are too perfect to have any kind of relationship with anyone else. No, we are to receive the things that God wants us to receive and give those things to others that they might be encouraged.
But I, like Paul do have a desire to depart and be with Christ. The more I dedicate my life to prayer and to understanding who God is in prayer, the more I desire to be with Him. I am not speaking of prayer as the end all beat all to the human existence, but it is one of the most important and most neglected of the keys to growth.
Why is this? Because I believe that the enemy desires us to believe that prayer is boring at best and a waste of time at worst! This could not be further from the truth! The only way to have a truly successful Christian life is to devote ourselves to prayer.
A Praying Ministry Successful
Quote: “The principal cause of my leanness and unfruitfulness is owing to an unaccountable backwardness to pray. I can write or read or converse or hear with a ready heart; but prayer is more spiritual and inward than any of these, and the more spiritual any duty is the more my carnal heart is apt to start from it. Prayer and patience and faith are never disappointed. I have long since learned that if ever I was to be a minister faith and prayer must make me one. When I can find my heart in frame and liberty for prayer, everything else is comparatively easy.” ––Richard Newton
Prayer does not bring immediate popularity, but brings success
(Acts 4:24-31) 24So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25"who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’ 27"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28"to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29"Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30"by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." 31And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
What an incredible prayer! Let me set the stage for you. Some of the disciples had just been arrested and beaten because they believed in Jesus and were bold about it. Look at the prayer though! You would think that they would have prayed, “Lord, please help us to keep our mouths shut. Every time we open them, someone is arrested or is beaten because of it!” But no! They pray for even more boldness! They pray that God would continue the work.
And what does God do? Look at the end of verse 21. “…and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
God answered their prayers! They had a successful ministry because they devoted themselves to prayer.
Here is an example of what happens when you do not seek the Lord in prayer before doing something. This seemed wise for Asa to do, but it turned out to be his downfall. (1 Chronicles 16:7-14)
It is possible to be a great success without prayer. But there will never be any spiritual growth or desire for holiness in the preacher or those in the body. Prayer causes a deep desire to be holy.
Much Time Should be Given to Prayer
Jesus gave much time to prayer. We should be committed to prayer and the time that it takes to pray. Are we too busy to take one or two hours a day and pray? Is it impossible for us to rise early in the morning or stay up late at night and pray?
Paul earnestly labored in prayer. That is why he was so successful in the ministry. His prayers touched the heart of God because his heart was touched by God.
The more we learn to pray, the more we listen in prayer as well.
Prayer Marks Spiritual Leadership
Quote: “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” ––John Wesley
If you are a leader, or have the desire to be, you should be devoted to prayer
Prayer is a mark of maturity in the life of the believer. Praying causes holiness in you and shows others your commitment to God. If you can not pray, how can you expect those to whom you have influence over to pray?
A person who has sensed the call of God on his or her life to minister to others can not find the strength in the flesh to continue on in the ministry. So many people say that they can not find the time to pray. However, most people spend three or four hours watching TV shows. I must limit myself to only two TV shows and spend that one hour praying.
Preachers Need the Prayers of the People
Quote: “If some Christians that have been complaining of their ministers had said and acted less before men and had applied themselves with all their might to cry to God for their ministers––had, as it were, risen and stormed heaven with their humble, fervent and incessant prayers for them––they would have been much more in the way of success.” ––Jonathan Edwards
Pray for your leaders. Pray for those whom might come and teach.
Finally, devote yourselves to prayer. Satan does not want you to pray. He does not want you to have a hunger for it at all because he knows that he will lose every time a Christian bends the knee and prays.
*A large portion of this article came from Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds
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