Prayerless Disciples Become Powerless Disciples Hanging On In Need of Power GOD IS SUCH A HOLY GOD AND THIS IS HIS HOLY WORD LET’S HONOR HIM BY STANDING Matthew 17:14–21 HCSB PRAYER!!! Prayerless Disciples Become Powerless Disciples Our text tonight reveals this truth to us without question. Notice, first: The Problem A. Powerless Captives A young boy’s life is hanging in the balance. v.15 - The boy is described, by his father as having seizures, some, because of the symptoms have translated the word as epilepsy. The Greek Word used only here in the NT, literally means “to be moon-struck.” The Greek culture thinking that insanity was caused by the moon goddess, Selene and that it waxed and waned (VBS Galactic Starveyors) with the same phases of the moon. That’s where we get our phrase “lunatic.” You have heard the old saying about what a fool moon does to people. (They all go to Walmart the next day at noon in their pajamas.) The context of the event gives the fuller picture. v.18 reveals what is behind the scenes. This boy is a captive of satan, tossed about into the fire or water by the demon that possessed him. His family is held captive by the fear of what could happen to their loved one. Left in this condition, he, possibly, will soon be found dead. Page 1. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. The scene describe in the another Gospel reveals even more how powerless the boy was and how powerless the father felt to do anything to help his son. Mark 9:20–24 CSB 20 So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father. “From childhood,” he said. 22 “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” v.16a - The dad, thinking about the ones he felt were surely most capable and willing, goes to Jesus’ disciples looking for help, then to Jesus and “falling on His knees.” He knew he was powerless. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians gives us an even bigger look behind the scenes of the world. Many people see a news story of a mom who kills all 5 of her kids, or a story of a pedophile trafficking young girls all over the Midwest and ask, “How can someone do such a thing?” Paul reveals the true answer to that question. Ephesians 6:12 CSB 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. People without Jesus are Powerless. There’s a new song - Chainbreaker. Describes Him perfectly. There is one part of the problem in this text, however that doesn’t make good sense. Or it should not be the case but unfortunately is the reality of the situation. Page 2. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. B. Powerless Disciples When Moses came down from the mountain he was confronted by Israel’s apostasy (Exod. 32); so on Jesus’ return from the mountain he enters a scene of spiritual conflict (v. 18) and unbelief (vv. 17, 20). v.16b & 19 - These Christ followers were unable to do any good to help the father. They found themselves powerless to do the kingdom work Jesus had just recently given them the power to accomplish. Matthew 10:1 NKJV 1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. They had failed at a ministry they had been sent forth by Christ to fulfill, and their expression to Jesus, showed they were fully aware of their lack of power for the ministry. v.17-18 - The words Jesus speaks is not directed at any nearby crowd. Matthew makes the disciples center stage in his account. No, Jesus’ rebuke is directed at the ones He expected and commissioned to help set the captives of satan free. Jesus not only called His disciples “unbelieving” but He gets very harsh with them declaring them no different than obstinate Israel and its leaders - the perverted generation. The word implies something being distorted to the point uselessness. Jesus empowered His disciples to draw upon His authority to advance the kingdom of heaven. His disciples had failed miserably because they failed to depend on His power to accomplish their ministry. I have said it many times. When people think or speak about the Great Commission, they always leave out the most important verse. Matthew 28:18 KJV 1900 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Church we have been given a Commission and a ministry in various forms, look around you. Page 3. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. We have powerless people all around us in our communities, who are captives to the dark forces at work behind the scenes. We are not seeing many set free these days. Why? What would Jesus say to us right now? Are we as humble as the disciples in our recognition of our lack of power? Do we want to ask the question like they did? Do we want the answer to the problem? Second Notice with me: The Answer v.21 - Is likely added later in Matthew by a scribe but can be found in similar form in the original of another gospel. Mark 9:29 CSB 29 And he told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” The Message of Matthew The Messiah’s Frustration (17:14–21) Matthew goes out of his way to stress the danger of lack of faith. He has had a lot to say about the failure of the disciples in this department already. It is an important lesson, and the more settled and established a church becomes, the more it needs to learn afresh that it can achieve precisely nothing without sincere dependence on the Lord, a point highlighted by the many manuscripts that add after verse 20, ‘But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting’—a marvelous rebuttal, incidentally, of the charge that Jesus performed exorcisms by magic. Instead, they happened because of implicit faith in the power of the Lord, claimed by prayer and from time to time reinforced by fasting. v.19 - notice it says they came to Jesus privately. Your prayer must always begin in your private places, not just talking but listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisee prayed the way he did in public because he had not prayed the way he should in private. Pray in private so you can pray like the publican did in public. Page 4. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. v.20 - When Jesus says the problem is their little faith he is not talking about size. He describes an extremely powerful faith as being as small as the smallest of seeds that grows to be Huge. This seed was extremely tiny yet grew into a 10ft high shrub. Their faith was of poor quality. It is all about in whom your faith is placed and how it is placed. John 15:5 CSB 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. You need a closeness with Jesus, expressed through you talking to Jesus (Prayer that is rightly focused - Father, Holy is your name, rightly purposed - Your Kingdom come.) That is only half of the relationship. John 15:7 CSB 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. Jesus talking to you (The study of the Bible on a much deeper level, not just a highlighted reading. To know Jesus more fully you must place yourselves where you can know Him.) Notice how our prayers are answered according to God’s Word not our wishes. People can have heaps and bounds of faith, but a faith that God is going to do something that you don’t see is contrary to His Word is no faith at all. 1 John 5:14–15 CSB 14 This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him. Knowing his Word guides our prayers and grows our faith. Page 5. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. Tony Evans says to picture faith as a connection between the work of the Holy Spirit and the power at work in our new nature. Faith is a wire that conducts a current called grace that flows from the Spirit so that the new nature receives power. Conclusion: Inside your house is a television, a washer and dryer set, a refrigerator, and hopefully an air conditioning unit and heater. You have ceiling fans and chandeliers with light bulbs. Those things are wonderful inventions, but, none of these electrical items in your house are working, despite all cords being plugged in the socket and the switches in the on position. What could be the problem? You walk outside and realize the power that resides at the top of the pole does not flow down into your house. There is power on high at the pole in the name of Ameren, but without the power at the pole being connected to the power box at the house, nothing electrical you have will work nor anything electrical you seek to do will be effective. We are today’s disciples of Jesus Christ gathered in a place we call God’s house, not because it is the temple, but because His temple is gathered inside it. For God’s pastor in this house to be fruitful and effective at what he does, he must have the power at the pole connected with the box at the house (this pulpit). For You, God’s people in this house to be fruitful and effective, and for what we have (our ministries) to work successfully, we need the power to flow from the pole to the box at the house (those pews) and through the house (us people). 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Christian Life, Faith In Telephone-pole climbing is an art. In order to climb, one must have a belt that goes around the pole and wear spiked shoes. The secret is to lean back and depend on the belt so the spikes can dig into the pole. Depending on the belt is hard to learn; often a beginner slides down the splintery pole because he won’t depend on his equipment. It only takes a few such experiences to convince the beginner that it is better to depend on the belt. In the Christian life, God wants us to climb by depending on him. When we are hurt by splinters, we should recognize that they are reminders that we need to depend on his strength and loving protection.148 Page 6. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. There is power on high in the name of Jesus and prayer is our pole climbing belt. Each one of us would be naive to sit here and believe that none of the rest of us do not look around at the church and say, “What are we going to do for our future?” I do, and I know you do. The answer to that question is right here in this Book. James 5:16 CSB 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. The prayer of a righteous church is very powerful in its effect. Most churches talk about prayer. Some churches actually pray. Listen to see which one most characterizes our church? • Churches that only talk about prayer tell people to pray; churches that really pray teach people to pray. • Churches that only talk about prayer schedule prayer meetings; churches that really pray genuinely pray at prayer meetings. • Churches that only talk about prayer preach about prayer; churches that really pray preach about prayer and pray during preaching. • Churches that only talk about prayer may have a prayer list; churches that really pray use that list every day and report God’s answers. • Churches that only talk about prayer may have a prayer ministry among others; churches that really pray have a prayer ministry that covers every other ministry. • Churches that only talk about prayer have leaders who themselves talk about prayer; churches that really pray have leaders who model prayer. • Churches that only talk about prayer usually respond reactively to the enemy’s attacks; churches that really pray do so proactively in preparation for those attacks. • Churches that only talk about prayer hope that God will do great things; churches that really pray expect God to do something great. Page 7. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017. • Churches that talk about prayer don’t threaten the enemy; churches that really pray make him shake. Can we be prayerful disciples who are powerful disciples? Can we be a church that actually prays and doesn’t just talk about prayer? Invitation to Respond The only thing I am asking you to do is what God is asking you to do. Prayer begins with obedience. WE have a list here you can come and get and pray even now for the Mission Trip to Cairo. Page 8. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 10:04 AM July 23, 2017.