The purpose of the Church.
Ecclesiastes 5:1. Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen
God speaks through creation and nature.
God speaks through his son.
On rare occasions God speaks with an audible voice.
God speaks through his Word.
God speaks in a still small inner voice in our heart and mind.
God speaks through people.
God speaks through circumstances.
God speaks through dreams and visions.
God speaks through Angels.
God speaks through signs and wonders.
God speaks through the Godly example of others.
God speaks through music.
Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.
Jesus will not speak guidance and direction into our lives through a closed door like some unwanted visitor or salesman, we must open the door.
You cannot wait for some convenient time.
Anything but a prompt response is an indication that you have something more important to attend to.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more, as you see the day approaching.
We saw that one of the ways to open the door to the Lord is through fellowship.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.
Drawing near to God is not something we initiate; it is responding to God drawing us.
Two Biblical ways to respond or open the door is through praise and prayer. God inhabits the praise of His People.
Psalm 100. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Famously known as “The Old One-Hundredth”
Remember what Jesus said to the Jewish Leaders when the crowd sang His praises, but they told Him to silence them.
The stones will cry out.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, Teacher, rebuke your disciples! I tell you, he replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound
of singing with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn, shout for joy before the
Lord, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world,
and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their
hands, let the mountains
sing together for joy; let
them sing before the Lord
All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Prayer however must be sincere and from our heart.
The Lord says: These people come near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
The prayer of the wicked is an abomination.
Proverbs 28:9 (KJV)
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Proverbs 28:9 (NIV)
If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.
Proverbs 15:8-9 (NIV)
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
To turn to God we must turn from sin.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Wash your hands you sinners. (outward)
Purify your hearts you double-minded. (Inward)
Do we like Jesus pray “Nevertheless not as I will.”
There are times like those Paul faced, where he prayed three times for his trouble to be taken away and the Lord answered
NO, MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU TO CONTEND WITH THIS THORN IN YOUR SIDE.
Prayer is about us hearing God, and about God hearing us.
1 John 5:14-15.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
He went away a second time and prayed, My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless
I drink it, may your will be done.
Praying to God does not necessarily mean that your trouble will disappear, it may mean that God will tell you why He is not going to remove your trouble and He promises to give you the strength to endure whatever you may be going through.
But the Lord said to Ananias, Go!
This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.
I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
If you want an effective prayer life start praying God’s will.
Prayer involves “requests” not demands (Phil. 4:6)
Demanding things from God treats Him as our servant, not our sovereign.
It whistles to Him as our bellhop, rather than submitting humbly to Him as our King.
Christians should be careful even in the use of imperative verbs when we pray. It might be better if we used the word “please” in our prayers.
Manoah gave us a good example:
Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Peter 2:11-12.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:13-17.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable……………
The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Timothy 2:1-8.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people,
for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.....Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Pray for your Leaders.
1 Timothy 2:3-4.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
2 Peter 3:9.
God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Jesus involvement in seeing this implemented, culminated in His going to the cross and suffering at the hands of those He was desiring to save.
What are you and I doing to see God’s will implemented.
Do we pray “Thy will be done”?
Sermon on the Mount.
Pray for those who persecute you.
The example of Jesus.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
The example of Stephen.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 9: 13-16.
Lord, Ananias answered, I have heard many reports about this
man, and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem, and he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.
But the Lord said to Ananias,
Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name
to the Gentiles and their kings
and to the people of Israel.
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.
So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.
You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.
So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
In Luke 4:4 Jesus quoted this passage of scripture when he was tempted by Satan in the desert and it’s a truth that needs our full attention, because it shows how the Lord allowed the Israelites to hunger physically to show them the importance of His Word.
The Word of God is our “Daily Bread”.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.
I call with all my heart; answer me, LORD, and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws. Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law. Yet you are near, LORD, and all your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.
Perhaps the greatest hindrance when wanting to know the will of God and wanting to hear his voice, is the flesh. That is why fasting can be such a benefit if our intention is to hear His voice and do His will.
Many Christians don’t know God’s voice and are uncertain of His will, because their minds have not been renewed by God’s Word and instead of opening the door to the Lord they have opened the door to the evil one or to their flesh and live a life of indulgence.
Surely no one will question that in lands where food is in plentiful supply there are vastly more people who are ill through over-indulgence than through under nourishment.
The Edwin Smith papyrus, estimated to be 3700 years old, quotes an ancient Egyptian Doctor as saying:
“Man eats too much. Thus he lives on only a quarter of what he consumes, the Doctors however live on the remaining three quarters.”
From an article in Christianity today we have the following quotation from James Morrison: “There are multitudes of diseases which have their origin in fullness, and might have their end in fasting.”
Without a doubt there are ills that could be cured, or better still prevented, and a better state of general health enjoyed if fasting coupled with reformed eating habits were practiced. Oblivious of this, man still continues to dig his grave with his knife and fork.
Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God. Why have we fasted, they say, and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness.
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out.
Fasting that pleases God.
When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
Fasting that pleases God.
If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
1 Kings 21: 27.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day.
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.
The King of Nineveh.
Therefore thus says the LORD, Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them.
To hear from God, we must be in submission. Heb 5:7.
If we harbour sin in our hearts, God won’t hear us. Ps 66:16-20.
Husbands disrespectful to their wives - 1 Peter 3:7.
Ignoring the plight of the poor and needy. Proverbs 21:13.
Busyness stops us hearing from God.
Idolatry - Jeremiah 11:11-14.
Disobedience - Ezekiel 8:15-18.
Selfish motives - James 4:2-3.
Self-righteousness - Luke 18:9-14.
Lack of persistence – Luke 18:1-7.
Unseen spiritual warfare - Daniel 10:10-14.
The Lucky charms like “Pleading the blood” - Matthew 16:18-19.
For your gods are as many as your cities, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal.
Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster.
Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? ….
Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them.
If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.
They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets.
So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen, says the Lord Almighty.
Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.
You do not have because you do not ask God.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
A recent report on the USA spending stated that the Christmas spending had dropped by 1%, but the figure was still close to 500 billion dollars.
The average spending per family in USA on Christmas day worked out to be $832.
3 billion people in the world, that means almost half of the world’s population live on an average of $2 per day, that is $730 a year, less than the average American family spends on Christmas day on decorations, presents and food!!
Do we really think that God cares about the silver Mercedes some are praying for?
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
But the tax collector stood at a distance.
He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought, and there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, Grant me justice against my adversary.
For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me! And the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says, and will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you. And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
Then he continued, Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
In the same way these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, The Lord rebuke you.
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand.
2 Peter 2:10-12.
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.
But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven, and I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.