Pray for one: Take Responsibility

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I truly hope you have begun the process of praying for one. Up to this point we looked at the very real call God puts on our lives to love those around us. In our prayer, “God give me one person to show your love to today” He may very well point out those closest to you. Last week we discussed our role in this call. Ultimately we do not know who we are in the process. You do not know if God is using you to till the soil in the person. If you are the person to caste the seed of Truth. You do not know if you are to come along and remove the weeds which inhibit growth, you do not know if you are there to water and maintain what God has already begun. You don’t if you are there to be a part of the harvest, when they come to faith and are buried with Christ through baptism? YOU DO NOT KNOW! But what we do know, is God is after that person. 2 Peter 3:9 “9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Ever ask yourself, “Why hasn’t the LORD returned?” There is your answer, He is not done saving people. He is still working, and as we pray for one we step into His work, in His pursuit of the lost. This is what has been on my heart, this is a bunny trail but I think you will find it interesting. My daughters, I know Biblically, God forbid if they were to pass away, at this time I know for certain where they are. In 2 Samuel 12, when David’s son was sick, David fasted, prayed, and wept for for His son. But when His son died, David got up, washed, anointed himself, and went into the temple to worship. Right after he came back home and ate. His servant could not understand why David could go from such mourning while his son was sick to what seemed like no reaction when he heard he had passed. David told them, “I am going to him.” In Ezekiel the Prophet is speaking on behalf of the LORD and Israel has become a nation of idol worshippers. They have turned their back on the LORD. So what happens when a child is born into a pagan family? They will usually adopt the paganism. But what happens when these children pass away? Ezekiel 16:21 “21 “You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire.” In Jeremiah 19 again addresses the atrocities of pagan worship, which included child sacrifice, God declares these “innocent.” Why do I covert this? It is clear, according to Scripture, before children reach a level of accountability, meaning they understand good from evil, they are innocent in the eyes of God. God forbid if anything should happen to my girls, I know where they are going. So why has God put such a burden on my heart to disciple them now while they are innocent? I have no such plans to mourn them. I expect a full life from them and a day is coming when they will know good from evil, and God is calling me to start now! “Tell them about me! Tell them about my great love for them! Tell them of the cross and resurrection! Tell them that it was for them! Start now that they might know me then.” When we pray for one, we are asking the LORD to make our lives in-tune with Him. “LORD Give me your burden for my family. LORD Give me your burden for my marriage. LORD Give me your burden for my co-workers, my friends, the one I pass at the grocery store, the one who works at the drop off ramp at my kids school, LORD Give me your heart for these people.”
When we yield our kingdom for His Kingdom. When we put ourselves aside and put on Christ. When we pray for one, we are telling the LORD that we will take responsibility for those he puts on our hearts in in our path.
When we pray for one, our lives are going to change completely. We will begin to see people differently. We will begin to interact with people differently. We will begin to love people we have never met with His love for them. Every day we will approach every single person as though they are the one. They are the one God has been working on and He is calling me to interact with. This interaction is so important. It is how we interact that is so important. Evangelists have been trying to find new ways to bring Jesus to the masses. We have tried to look cool and trendy. Christian’s can be cool too! Who defines cool? The culture at large. The culture that is against God? Yes. So to be cool is to emulate a culture which is apart from God. So we approach them looking apart from God to bring them God? We offer them credibility. Christians can be smart too. I get it, there are great Christian thinkers such as John Lennox, William Lane Craig, Dr. James White, and Jeff Durbin to name a few. I am very passionate about apologetics, asking questions, and looking for those answers. But an endless stream of Q & A does not accomplish what we are after. We want them to know Jesus, not the historicity of the Bible. What I am getting at is, we forget that the Gospel is a person. We are bringing Jesus and His salvation to people. We are not bringing a concept to them, we are bringing a person.
This does not mean that our interactions with people will go wonderful all the time. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 “18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing… We are going into a world which thinks what we believe is foolish. We must be stupid top believe in what we believe. but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. We know! You can think we are ignorant, backwoods, morons but know! Our joy is found in their knowing as well. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” There is no test that can be run on the life of a converted person. When God saves someone, there is no test we can run to find the Holy Spirit within them. There is no brain scan we can run to see why they went from being one way to another. Regardless the converted person does undergo a change. 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; Everyone will want something different. “Prove this!” They say. So you prove it. They then reject the proof and bring forth another, “Now prove this!” I want us to take note of what Paul says, Ill re-read the previous verse but make a note of verse 23, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, Paul gave them Jesus! They wanted this but he gave them Jesus, why? because only Jesus saves! Only Jesus changes the heart of man. Only Jesus can make a heart of stone a heart of flesh. So give them the one person who can save them! Paul did this and he knew to preach Jesus would be, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, The one. The one we are praying for. both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The world wants this and that, Paul says, “We gave them Jesus.”
First, we have to understand, the message we are bringing is one the world hates. In a world which says, “You are perfect the way you are. Be your true self,” Even if that means causing permanent damage to your hormones and irreversible surgery to your body. Reject that God made you a man and be a woman. Reject that God made you a woman and be a man. When you die and your remains are studied 100 years from now your DNA will declare your created sex and gender, but no! You know better. That is at the root of our society as a whole, I know better. I know myself better than this God you know. I know whats best for my life. I know who I am. I have already stepped in it referring to gender dysphoria, but can I just tell you why I am never going to bow down to the LGBT agenda, especially when it comes to gender dysphoria. I have only one reason *quarter*. I am not willing to take that chance on someones life. This idea that we know better comes from a secular humanist worldview. A worldview people do not actually live by. Natural selection and evolution are their god and their god appeases them. Their god bows down to them. The world hates the Gospel because first off, Jesus will not bow to them. Second, the message of the Gospel is that Christ died for us. Why did He die? Because of your sin. The world will hate that we are declaring them anything but perfect. “I am perfect the way I am.” Don’t get married or have kids. You find out real fast you have some serious flaws which affect people in a deep way. Right from the start the Gospel, to a world which hates God, is foolish. But do you know something? Even in the face of this God says, “I still want them to be my own. I still want them as sons and daughters.” Ezekiel 18:23 “23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” This is the Love we are wanting to grow in as we pray for one. Regardless of the resistance, we want them as brothers and sisters. We want them to know Jesus and if that means we have to face some awkward conversations or be met with vitriolic language we will because our love for them is more powerful than what might come. Can we just think about this for a moment. To love someone more than what they might do to you means something entirely different in other parts of the world and in the first century. Today, to love someone more than what they might do to you, means you love them more than your own life, because that's exactly what might be taken form you. Here in the US we back down because we cannot bear to hear someone say, “You believe this garbage!? You’re such a moron for believing in fairy tales! My child does not even believe this!” *of course laced with obscenities*
When we pray for one, we begin to see people who a different lens. We will treat people with more grace and affection. We will be open to any person that God may bring our way.
I want to introduce you to a man named Philip the Evangelist. No his last name is not “The evangelist.” The reason why this is so important for us today is the commonality of Philip. Meaning, he was not an Apostle, who were still sinful men, but we look at them as untouchable. Philip the Evangelist was not an Apostle. What was unique about Philip, which is something we can not experience today, He did have the Apostle lay hands on him and He was given Apostolic gifts, in particular healing. Acts 8:4-8 “4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. 6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was much rejoicing in that city.” In Acts 6 the Apostles laid hands on Philip and commissioned him. Philip was like you and me. The Apostles did their ministry until they died. Eventually Philip retired and focused on raising a family. We can relate to that. Yes, Philip was gifted by the Holy through the laying on of the Apostles hands. The point I want to make is, had that been you, the same could have been said. But none of us can be called Apostles. This is what makes Philip so important to what we are covering today.
Acts 8:25–40 (NASB95)
25 So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.)27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:“He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth.33In humiliation His judgment was taken away;Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.”34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
b. Lets address verse 39, I DON’T KNOW! *Read verses 25-26* Philip had plans to go back to Jerusalem stopping along the way to preach to the villages. But as he was traveling he was told to go south along the desert road. I do not want us to get caught up on the Angel of the LORD. You might say, “Angels don’t guide me as to where I am going to go.” You are right, as a Christian, you have the third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you have it better. Our problem is our lives do not sound anything like the beginning of verse 27, “So he got up and went.” Our verse 27 is more like, “So she made an excuse and stayed” or “So he justified in his mind that could not have been the Holy Spirit and did nothing.” Had we done what Philip had done, we would have found the one we have been praying for. Philip goes and finds a man and what is this man reading? A prophecy from the book of Isaiah. This goes along with what we went through last week. When God calls us to go, He is not calling us because He has done nothing. He is calling us to go because He is working in that person. We do not know where He is in the process but one thing is certain, God is working. Verse 29 we can relate the Spirit of God leads Philip to go and join this chariot. Again we see Philip respond in the same way we should, “Philip ran.” God the Holy Spirit said “Go!” and Philip went as fast as he could. How hesitant are we. Where is the urgency in our steps?
c. I want us to summarize Philips interaction with a few verses: 30-31 and verse 35, “ Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. So what did Philip do? verse 35, Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. There is where we overthink it. Romans 1:16 “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… This is what we forget. It is God who saves, not us. Many times throughout Paul’s letter's he refer’s to the sinner as a dead man. That we are dead in our sin. But He never speaks of us as dead without then speaking of what God does which is the bringing to life of that dead man. Ephesians 2:1-7 “1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” This is what I am trying to help us see, we abandon the call to go because we forget verse 4, “But God.” As God called Philip to go He will call us to go. Go and speak to this person. God and tell this person your testimony. Go and give this person the Gospel. Like Philip we do not need to make excuses as to why we cant, or why we shouldn’t. We need to run, and do you know why? But God. What if they don’t like that I am talking to them? But God. But God has called you. What if they get angry with me? But God. But God is still working in them.
As we close I want to just emphasize this again. We too often forget, God is the one working and saving people. I see this so many times in preaching. Sunday afternoon’s are filled with my own criticism of the sermon. How I should have said something better. How I should have said something clearer. How i left something out. I can recall preaching a sermon that was so bad considering my preparation and what I wanted to say. I was off as a speaker. God still worked and moved and people came forward. Do not forget, it is God who is working, He is simply calling you to go. be obedient in that. Go. The greatest miracles God ever performs He does every single time a man or woman believes, repents, and a buried with Christ in baptism. When they are raised a new Creation. The greatest Miracle God ever did and continues to do today is save sinners! When a man or woman turns their back on their old life and follows now after Christ. When God changes their heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. When God takes a dead man, who is dead in his sin, and raises them to life now as a son or daughter. That is the greatest Miracles. When God saves sinners. When HE SAVES SINNERS. He is moving. He is working. He is saving. It is Him who is doing, so why aren’t we going!?
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