Connected through Prayer

Sermon Tone Analysis
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Imagine a child facing two choices.
In the first choice his mom tells him that he must clean his room.
It must be spotless.
he will probably have to put hours into his efforts.
Anything less than perfection is not acceptable.
Whether he likes it or not, that room must be cleaner than it has ever been before.
In the second scenario mom tells her son that someone has given him an incredible gift.
It is wrapped and ready to open.
she increases his excitement by letting him know this gift will be one of the greatest he has received or ever will receive.
It will bring him countless hours of joy.
If this boy had to choose one of these two, Which will he choose?
Of course number two!
But every church member faces two distinct scenarios where the choice is just as obvious.
In the first option we approach church membership similar to the country club membership noted in chapter one.
We are joining the church to see what we can get out of it.
The pastor is to feed us through his sermons.
We have specified an acceptable range for the length of his sermon.
The music is to fit our style exactly.
Any deviations are not acceptable.
The programs and ministries are for our benefit.
We will determine what we like and don’t like.
We are members who expect perks, privileges and service.
But there is a second option to church membership.
It’s the biblical option that sees membership as a gift, something to be treasured.
Membership means we have the opportunity to serve and give rather than the legalistic option to do so.
Our entire attitude is different when we approach membership the biblical way.
Church is a gift from God!
There are promises throughout the Bible, and for each promise there is a condition.
Likewise with each gift God gives there is a responsibility...

I. Receive

To receive the gift of church membership, you must have first of all accepted His greatest gift.
The gift of salvation!

A. Gift Only for Sinners

Romans 3:23 KJV
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Everyone has sinned and deserves death.
Romans 6:23 KJV
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But Jesus took our penalty for us as this verse tells us and gave us the gift of eternal life.
2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
It is a Gift only for sinners, and it is...

B. Gifted Only by Repentance

Acts 3:19 KJV
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
When we repent of sin and place our faith in Jesus, we receive the gift of Salvation…Redemption.
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Over and over redemption is spoken of as a gift from God.
When we receive the gift of salvation we become the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:27–28 KJV
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
When we are given the gift of redemption we given the gift of salvation,
forgiveness of sins,
adoption into the family of God,
the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us.
It also includes becoming a part of the body of Christ.
Yes, membership in the body of Christ, the church, is a gift from God.
Not a legalistic obligation, not for country club perks, not for license for entitlements.
It is a gift of God for us to participate together.
Which is our second responsibility...

II. Join

I know you may argue that the body of Christ refers to the universal church, all believers everywhere for all ages.
You would be right.
But the universal church has not gathered together.
Right now we only have the local church.
The majority of the New Testament books were written about and to local churches.
The book of Acts provides a historical narrative of the Spirits work of the churches.
Acts 2:41-42 tells us that
Acts 2:41–42 KJV
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The word added means to be joined, to be added to.
Acts describes the work of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Pamphylia, Macedonia, Thyatira, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Caesarea, Ephesus, Troas, Rome Malta and others.
All local churches.
Look at the books of the Bible, the majority were written to local churches in cities: Corinth, Ephesus, the Region of Galatia, Philippi, Colossi, Thessalonica.
Or they were written to individuals in specific local church contexts: Timothy, Titus, Philemon,etc.
Even the book of Revelation has the context of letters to local churches.
God is interested in what is going on in the local church.
When he gives us the gift of redemption, he gives us the gift of membership…which means we ought to join in!

III. Pray

The gift of salvation, and the gift of our church gives us the responsibility to pray for our church and each other.
Acts 2:41-42 again says
Acts 2:41–42 KJV
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
And in prayers.
This is our last sermon in this series on being connected.
the next two weeks will be dedicated to Palm Sunday and Easter.
After that, I plan to begin a new series on the “One Another’s” in the Bible.
We will talk more about this later, but James 5:16 tells us...
James 5:16 KJV
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
It is our responsibility to be connected together in prayer.
I would like you to turn to Matthew 6:9-13.
In this passage, we see the model prayer that is given when Jesus wanted to teach His disciples how to pray.
I see some shifts that need to happen in our prayers, if we are truly going to be connected in prayer.

A. From “My Father” to “Our Father”

6:9, 11-13
We should see Him as our personal Father, but it is important to understand the connectivity of the words “Our Father.”
We need to get past our hyper individualism and independence.
Realize we are part of a group, and we have a responsibility to pray with your spiritual community.
Personal prayer is important, and Jesus warned of making yourself a public spectacle.
But we need to pray with the spirit of “our father”.

B. From “My Will” to “Thy Will”

verse 10
As we grow in the Lord and delight ourselves int he the Lord, he gives us a promise
Psalm 37:4 KJV
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
But the responsibility is first to delight yourself in the Lord.
This will naturally shift our prayers from my will to His will.
Matthew 6:33 KJV
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
In context it is talking about all our earthly needs will be given to us, if just keep our focus on Him.
Seeking His kingdom is more than just opening our hearts to God.
It involves a change in our volition, our Will.
That is why we pray “Thy will be done.”
Look at your calendar, your schedule, how much of it focuses on “my will” and how much of it focuses on “His will?”
Things like work are His will!
But extra work so we can have more toys is “my will.”

C. From “Personal Gain” to “Daily Bread”

verse 10
Jesus teaches us that it is appropriate to pray for personal needs.
But the word daily in the Greek means, “Sufficient for today.”
Proverbs 30:7–9 KJV
7 Two things have I required of thee; Deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, And say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, And take the name of my God in vain.
The word convenient in verse 8 means a portion that is limited.
He’s saying give me just enough, Lord.
Because he didn’t want to not rely on the Lord each and every day!
God gives us abundance to be used for Him, not to stick in a storehouse.
Now we do need to prepare for the days that we are not able to work.
But the Biblical example shows that the children ought to be responsible to care for their parents when they reach that age.
But none of us want to be a burden to our children.
Acts 2:42–47 KJV
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
You don’t need to sell all you have and give it away today, but we ought to be prayerful of how can I advance the kingdom of God?

D. From “I’m Offended” to “I Forgive”

verse 12
Jesus taught that we need to forgive others because we have been forgiven!
The prayer implied that we have been forgiven.
If you are member of the kingdom of God, then you are co-members with others in that kingdom, and therefore part of the family of God.
We forgive others
We love our enemies
Matthew 5:44 KJV
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
We don’t judge others
Matthew 7:1–2 KJV
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Bottom line is Our personal fellowship with God is in jeopardy if we refuse to forgive those who sin against us.
We cannot walk with God and refuse to forgive others - they do not coincide.
Decide today that you will forgive those who have hurt you!

E. From “Deliver Me” to “Deliver Us”

verse 13
He prays that we be not led into temptation.
God tempts no man, but the devil does.
Peter tells us to...
1 Peter 5:8 KJV
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Jesus tells us to pray for God to “deliver US.”
We need to pray for one another and with one another!
Soldiers who are in the foxhole during combat aren’t experiencing community, The Romans had a word for it...they are experiencing communitas (Latin) - a sense of survival, mission where togetherness is essential.
It may not seem like a group prayer time is a foxhole, but it is!
Church is more than busy tasks and pressing ministry.
These things can actually get in the way sometimes of the prayer time together that matters.
If we don’t carve out the time to pray with and for one another, we will soon be disconnected, rather than connected as the body of Christ.
If we have an attitude of entitlement, we have a lousy attitude.
We will always be looking for what we rightly deserve.
But if we see life, salvation and church membership as gifts, then our perspective changes.
Church membership is a gift, a joyous gift!
Treat it as such!
Pledge #6
I am a church member. This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. I will now serve and love others in our church. I will pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but rather pray for our church and each member that joins with us.
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