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Prayer Challenges

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We make it through challenges serving God by watching Him work

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Prayer Challenges

Thesis: We make it through challenges serving God by watching Him work

For kids:

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup
You are my all in all

Saved for a purpose

Saved for a purpose
Pastor Paul Wier's dream
That was not the end of my adventures. It was just the beginning.

The Path to and through Salvation

If you ask someone who became a Christian later in life, I can almost guarantee they will say they regret waiting so long.
It is not because we as Christians do not suffer, or even suffer less.
It is because we live more abundantly, so that even our suffering has purpose.
In fact, it is often the very brokenness of our world that leads us to and through salvation.
Psalm 116 NRSV
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. 9 I walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my consternation, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones. 16 O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 116 NRSV
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. 9 I walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 I said in my consternation, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones. 16 O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness

God saves us for a reason - He answers our prayers.
Physical healing is delaying our trip home
Not done without purpose
God's Prayers answered by us
Matthew 9:35–10:4 NRSV
35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
Matthew 9:35-10:

Answering the Call/Answering God’s Prayer:

Levels of Personal Relationship with God
Not saved - ignorant of and ignoring God - Distracted
Not saved - knowing wrongly and blaming God - unforgiven and unforgiving
Saved - Jesus is Lord (my Lord) - Curious and Grateful
Saved - Struggling with weakness - Fearful and Focused
Saved - Seeing God's Grace in Action - Hopeful and Helping God
This Father's Day, which one of these relationships do you or did you have with your earthly father?
What about your Heavenly Father?
Matthew 10:5-
Matthew 10:5–23 NRSV
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9 Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

The Challenge of Getting Stuck at Stage 4

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness
1I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4Then I called on the name of the LORD:
God
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”
5Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6The LORD protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9I walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
As a child I can remember my Mom and other mother figures in my life, telling me not to do a whole bunch of things that were habit forming such as smoking, drinking alcohol, drinking coffee, eating sugar, etc. and giving the reason that they would stunt my growth.
10I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
13I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15Precious in the sight of the LORD
It was the default threat.
is the death of his faithful ones.
16O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
It was always a little confusing when my Dad did several of these things. He would back mom up, but he still had his habits he kept.
18I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
Later I would find out that the women in my life had theirs as well that they either kept hidden better or only gave up temporarily.
19in the courts of the house of the LORD,
Either way, the model presented was “Don’t do this or you’ll get stuck!”
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Many wonderful, faithful, loving Christians get stuck at stage 4 in their faith - the fearful and focused stage - because they did something wrong somewhere down the road, maybe even picked up a bad habit.
That deed or habit then floats perpetually before them, reminding them of how they messed up and how they will never be the person they could have been without that mistake.
Many carry this to their graves as a secret guilt
Others rationalize it away as part of being human, that we all are sinners and no one is perfect
Either way, we focus in on those imperfections in ourselves and in others and we get stuck at stage 4
This type of person is not going to answer a call to be a missionary or to pastor a church.
In fact, someone stuck at this 4th stage is not likely even to teach a Sunday School class.
They prefer serving in ways that are out of sight and that do not require them to actually talk about their relationship with God - again, not because they are not Christians… but because their focus is on their sin that is ever before them.
Jesus, by contrast, did not tell his disciples not to mess up or else they would not make it.
He sent them out unprepared
He told them to expect rejection
He sent them to face the worst brokenness the world had to offer - curing illness, casting out demons, cleansing lepers, raising the dead
He knowingly sent them out like sheep among wolves into the face of persecution
How were they to succeed at all?
Do you ever have to be fearful and focused? No. But you will. We don’t get stuck by moving forward from curious and grateful stage 3 so much as we try to leap from 3 to 5 and fall on our face into fearful and focused stage 4. Then we are stuck. At least that is what usually happens to me. Even our beloved fathers get fearful and focused. Even preachers get fearful and focused, and still we preach on. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement spent much of his early missionary and preaching life stuck in stage 4. How do we get out?
The advice given to Wesley when he got stuck here was this:
“Preach faith until you have it, and then because you have it, you will preach it.”
Repeat that with me. Write that down. Burn that into your memory.
It sounds silly enough you might just remember it when you need it most. Silly because we think we cannot share what we do not have. But preaching, and especially witnessing, is not about having anything. It is about telling what you see. Just because you are messed up, sinful, and stunted in your spiritual growth does not mean God quit blessing the rest of the world around you! If you are stuck, it is time to pull your eyes off your sin for one moment and look up to see what God is up to everywhere else around you.
Matthew does not tell us what happened on this first trip out by the Twelve. However Luke tells us that the number of disciples grew and Jesus sent them out on a second trip - this time with 70 instead of just 12. Here is what happened the second time around.
Luke 10:17–24 NRSV
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Praise the LORD!
Do you want to answer God’s call, God’s prayer in your life? Find out what He is up to and He will put you in the place you need to be. Open your eyes and ears. Where do you see God working?
This is precisely why we share this every Sunday morning. Yes it reminds us to be thankful, but it also reminds us where God is working so that we can remember we are supposed to be working with Him! Your Heavenly Father is going to work and He did not create you to stay home and wait for Him to return.
If you are saved, you are good enough to start going to work with Him.
If you are not saved, then today is your day. Don’t live one more day of regret. Come down today and find out what the abundant life with God is all about and who He created you to be.

Closing Prayer

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup
You are my all in all
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