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Midnight Hour Prayer

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Offering

Midnight Hour Prayer

Intro:

When Mercy was only a few months old, Angela got pregnant with our second child.
Silence. Ooh.
Scholars note that between the end of the Old Testament and the time of the New Testament, there was a period of 400 years of silence. For 400 years there was no prophecy. Think of that, our nation is only 241 years old.
During the 400 years of silence, the nation of Israel had struggled to obtain their independence.
During the 400 years of silence, the nation of Israel had struggled to obtain their independence.
They even had seasons of freedom and independence... but eventually fail to the Roman Empire.
Thailand ultrasound indicated possible problem.
By the birth of Christ, Rome had exerted such irresistible force that Israel was hopelessly subjected to them. When they would later rebel in AD 70, the temple would be destroyed and the land ransacked. All Jews would be forced to leave the land by command of the emperor. This would lead to two thousand years of Jewish exile from their homeland- a time in which they would be scattered to the ends of the earth with no motherland to call home.
They were fighting for a homeland they felt powerless to defend. They were controlled by a culture they could not influence. And they could not seem to hear God.
Ultrasound in Calcutta revealed the baby had died in the wound and stopped developing and she would miscarry anytime.
Anyone ever felt like that? Anyone ever been in a midnight hour season of life?
For Israel, Jesus was born at one of the darkest moments in their history.
Returned to the hotel in a dark cloud.
There is another story in scripture that reminds me of the silent years. It is the story of Paul and Silas in jail. We find the story in
We did not know what to do? Should we take Angela to the camp? Should we leave her back? Stay or go?
How do you balance faith and wisdom?
I can tell you, that was one of the darkest hours of our life.
What do you do in the dark hours? When there is no light? When your life is flooded with pain? When you are confined with no way out, no way forward?
Paul and Silas faced a moment like that.
There is another story in scripture that reminds me of the silent years. It is the story of Paul and Silas in jail. We find the story in . Please turn there with me in your Bibles.
Acts 16:16–40 NIV84
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family. When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
So the great apostolic missionary team was split. But it turned out to be ok. What looked like a tragedy born out of frustration actually resulted in a multiplication of ministry. Only God can turn frustration into multiplication.
So Paul and Silas set out. But soon they are stopped by the Holy Spirit from speaking the word of God in Asia.
Why? They are missionaries. Aren’t they supposed to preach the Gospel?
Perhaps God is protecting them. Perhaps He has someone else to minister in that region. Perhaps He is rushing them to an urgent assignment. Perhaps Paul would have been killed and half the New Testament would not have been written. We cannot say for sure.
And sometimes, that is how God’s will is. We cannot fully understand it. But we must be people of the Spirit, lead by God. We must be prepared to obey God even when we do not fully understand what He is saying.
God Is Leading Paul and Silas.

God Will Lead Us

Now most of us have been so infected by the American Gospel- the idea that Jesus called us to take up a crown and not a cross- that we think whatever God is leading us to will always be better than where we are, easier than where we are, more comfortable than where we are, more successful than where we are. Friends, that simply is not true. God rewards us with higher levels of service, not necessarily higher levels of income. He gives us more important assignments, not more indulgent assignments.
How many Navy Seals sign up with the expectation that the harder they work- the safer they will be? The more they get promoted, the easier life will be. Let me answer that for you. None.
If they work hard, serve faithfully, and continue in service long enough to be promoted- the best they can hope for is to be entrusted with the responsibility of sending other men into harm’s way- an assignment far more difficult than going yourself for those who have already gone.
What we see with Paul and Silas is that God clearly leads them to Macedonia. But when they get there- life is not paradise. Heaven will be paradise. This life is war. We have marching orders from our Commander to march into the battle and push back the enemy and liberate the captives. That is not a vacation. This is war.
And Paul and Silas find themselves in the middle of this war.
As soon as they arrived, they encountered two things:
Salvations
Satanic opposition
When we follow God, He will use us to reach the lost and confront the enemy. One will be fun. One will not- but it will be necessary.
Watch what happens.
You would think that the satanic opposition would come in the form of an enemy- someone out to get them. But actually- just the opposite. A slave girl starts bragging about how great Paul and Silas are. Satan knows the power of pride. He will try to puff us up to bring us down.
And this fortune telling slave girl, who has a demonic spirit, comes to Paul and Silas and starts bragging about them.
There is a huge difference between encouraging some one and enticing them.
Both say nice words but they have a different motive.
Encouraging them is saying kind words to help them follow the Lord, to not give up, to strengthen them.
Enticing them is saying nice words to influence them, control them, to manipulate them into what you want them to do.
The devil is using this slave girl to say nice words- not to help them, but to distract others from hearing them.
May I suggest to you that some of the darkest seasons of life will not come from your enemies- but from your friends. From those on your side. From the ones who should be standing with you, but instead begin to work against you.
Paul discerns by the Holy Spirit the motive and the spirit behind the slave girl’s words and rebukes the demonic spirit. The result is that the girl is set free. Praise God right.
Paul does the right thing.
He confronts the demonic spirit.
He delivers a child from demonic possession.
He proclaims the Gospel. He should get a trophy right. At least a good offering. A handclap.
We must confront demonic distraction to make way for the proclamation of the gospel.
But the devil is never happy about being confronted and dethroned.
And often when we do the right thing, bad things result.
The slave girls’ greedy owners do not rejoice in her freedom, but rather they attack Paul for driving out the spirit. Paul and Silas are dragged before a kangaroo court, unjustly beaten with rods and thrown into prison with their feet fastened in stocks.
And that is where we take up the story.
How would you react in this situation? Frustrated. Sullen. Disappointed.
We see none of this from Paul and Silas. Rather, what we see is men of God moved by their love for God- even in the darkest of circumstances.
Untested faith is of questionable value. But it is the faith that has been through the fire, that has stood through the storm, that has endured a dark night and still keeps standing, that still keeps praising, that still keeps worshipping God, despite the blows, despite the blood, despite the storms- that is the kind of faith that I want to have. That is the kind of faith that is worth more than gold.
Faith at its core simply says- God is good and I can trust Him.
Of course, it is more difficult to believe that God is good when we go through something difficult, something bad, something painful.
And that is where Paul and Silas are at.
They trusted God. They followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. And suddenly that got beat, put in jail and locked in stocks. What would you do in that moment.
They did something powerful. They began to praise God!
After everything they had suffered, they lifted up their voices and praised God for His goodness.
I don’t know what you are going through, I don’t know what you are facing, I don’t know what sickness is affecting your family, what bills are weighing on your mind, what shame and failures are weighing you down, but this is what I do know. If you will praise God- even in your darkest hour, God will show up.
You see, He promised to inhabit the praises of His people.
Psalm 22:3 NLT
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
And God dwells in unapproachable light.
1 Timothy 6:16 NIV84
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
And He promised to never turn away from anyone who calls on Him.
Romans 10:13 NIV84
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So that means, if you are in a dark place and you need light to know the way, then turn on the Praise and watch your heavenly Father show up and shine out. And with Him comes the overwhelming glory of His presence.
Midnight hour praise is the most precious of all praise. It is praise that comes from a pure faith, from a crushed spirit, from a heart in love with God. And sincere praise is something that God will not ignore.
So let me talk to you for a minute about the power of Midnight Hour Prayer.
Midnight hour prayer is crying out to God when everything seems hopeless. It is prayer in the darkest seasons of life. When despair is thick. When problems are overwhelming. When hope seems lost. Midnight hour prayer pushes off the weight of despair, lifts its hands to God and prays for His help.
We see in this passage that Midnight hour did 4 critical things.
Midnight hour prayer:

Shakes Foundations

Opens Doors

Looses Chains

Saves The Lost

Shakes Foundations

Sometimes in life, there are problems that are so big we cannot escape them. Giants so big we don’t have the power to slay them. What do we do in those moments.
We cry out to God.
Luke 1:37 NIV84
For nothing is impossible with God.”
Sometimes wordly systems seem to be opposed to the purposes of God.
When Bakers are fined and bankrupteded for refusing to bake cakes they feel endorse same sex marriage- there is a foundation problem.
When kids can do Yoga- in other words, Worship the Hindu god Shiva- in school but not Pray or Read their Bible or even talk about Jesus, there is a foundation problem.
When our nation allows the prosecution of the man who exposes Planned Parenthood’s business of chopping up babies and selling the parts to the highest bidder, but refuses to defund or hold Planned Parenthood accountable for the slaughter and sale of millions of babies- there is a foundation problem.
When proud politicians and movie stars think they can sexually assault women without consequence, there is a foundation problem.
When preachers talk more about getting rich than they talk about getting right with God, there is a foundation problem.
When the color of your skin closes doors that should be open, there is a foundation problem.
But what can you do.
The wrong thing to do is get bitter, get angry, and lash out.
The right thing to do is to go to God, humble yourself and cry out for His help and support.
Ps 11:3-4
Psalm 11:3–4 NIV84
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.
Psalm 11:3
Remember when the foundations need to be shaken, God is still on His throne. He is not surprised by anything that is happening. And God is well able to defend those who trust in Him.
In Bihar there is a wonderful ministry called GEMS. They are the largest Christian organization in a state with very few Christians and Churches.
Several years ago a politician well known for his corruption and scams was elected. Immediately, some anti-Christian radicals came to him demanding that he shut down GEMS’ ministry in the state. They made many terrible accusations. So the politician sent a rep to see the situation. When the rep came back, his report was so astonishing, the politician himself decided to go and see. When he arrived at GEMS he saw an amazing hospital in a very remote location. A Christian school. A home for polio children, and numerous other social projects. It was such a beautiful ministry, he told the leader of GEMS, “If I had known about this place, I would have quit half my sins long ago.”
He returned to the capital and issued a stern warning that no one was to disturb the GEMS ministry because they were doing a beautiful work for the poor and he himself would take action against anyone who tried to disturb them.
Our God can shake the foundations of power to protect his children.

Midnight Hour Prayer Opens Doors

There are times when doors are closed before us. What do we do in those seasons. Do we quit? Do we stop? Do we turn back? Or do we persevere in God’s purpose.
When we face closed doors, it can seem impossible. In those moments life can seem dark. But we need to remember that God is in charge of opening and closing the doors.

If a door is closed, it is because God wanted it to be closed. If God wanted it open, no one could close it.

It could be that it is not time yet.
It could be that you need to pray that door open.
Or it could be that God has another way.
The Bible says:
Revelation 3:7–8 NIV84
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Joseph Gordon: going into Laos.
Planned to start a trekking company
Applied for a visa. Turned down.
Met a man on a plane. They had a school. Gave the school to Joseph. He took in a team that began to teach English and through that to make disciples.

God opens doors no man can shut.

God will make a way for you to do what He has called you to do.

Midnight Hour Prayer Looses Chains

The prisoners were in chains in the jail. Including Paul and Silas. And God sent an earthquake and everyone was set free. How many of you know- when God brings us out of bondage, He does not want to bring us out alone. He wants to bring others out with us.
I don’t know what chains are binding you today...
Maybe chains of drug addiction...
Maybe chains of pornography...
Maybe chains of bitterness and unforgiveness...
Maybe chains of alcoholism...
Maybe chains of fear...
Maybe chains of shame and guilt from divorce or sexual abuse...
I don’t know what chains you dragged in with you this morning, but what I do know is this…

Jesus looses chains.

And when Jesus looses the chains- He does not just loose them from you. His blessing and love will flow through you to your entire family. And the ones that are laughing at your Jesus right now could very well be crying out to Him for salvation tomorrow.

If you are in a midnight season of your life, you don’t need to fear the darkness. You need to cry out to the LIGHT!

Midnight Hour Prayer Saves the Lost

The jailer got so scared when the prison doors spring open, he started to kill himself. But Paul and Silas stopped him, shared the Gospel with him and he and his entire household believed in Jesus, got saved and got baptized that night.
You know God is doing something when people get so on fire for Jesus they won’t even wait til morning for baptism. Of course, Paul and Silas did not know what would happen to them in the morning. For all they knew, they might be killed the next morning- so I guess they all felt a little bit of urgency.
But watch this- when God shows up- the ones that were beating you yesterday will be the ones that are treating your wounds today.
When God shows up, those who opposed the Gospel yesterday will be the ones embracing it today.
You see...

Midnight Hour Prayer Ushers in Midnight Hour Praise!

Midnight hour praise is the most precious of all praise. It is praise that comes from a pure faith, from a crushed spirit, from a heart in love with God. And sincere praise is something that God will not ignore.
And...
Psalm 50:23 NIV84
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
Ps
You see, when you start praising God in the midst of your darkness, God decides to show up and show off to demonstrate He is worthy of your praise.
Did you praise me as your savior? Let me rescue you from that injustice.
Did you praise me as your Way Maker? Let me open those doors.
Did you praise me as your deliverer? Let me loose those chains.
Did you praise me as your redeemer? Let me save you from your sins… and let’s save your whole family too.
God is enthroned on the praises of His people.
So when you praise God in the middle of your Midnight Hour- you prepare a place for Him to show up in the midst or your problems.
You give him an invitation He can’t resist.
When my wife makes chocolate chip cookies, that fragrance fills the house. And wow. So good. You know- it is inevitable. I can’t resist the smell of hot fresh chocolate chip cookies. It does not matter what room of our house I am in… I always know when she has made chocolate chip cookies and I come looking for them.
Did you know that when you begin to Pray to God and Praise God in your midnight hour, it is like setting out a plate full of hot, fresh chocolate cookies out in front of Him. God says- oh yeah. I like that. Genuine prayer. Sacrificial praise. Ha! Look at that. In jail. In stocks. Beaten and bleeding and still praising me. Ha! I am going down there.
Hey look at that… divorced, abused, broke, mistreated, persecuted, jobless, homeless penniless and still praising me as her savior, redeemer, provider, shelter. Well I will show her that I am all of that and much more.
Midnight hour praise gets your eyes off your problem and onto the problem solver.
Angela cried out to God in the hotel room that day after we found out she was going to miscarry.
We were so confused. Did we do something wrong? Should we expect a miracle? Was it doubt to believe the doctors that she was about to have a miscarriage.
As she returned to the room, Angela began to pray and cry out to God asking Him yes or no- would she miscarry.
God did not say yes. God did not say no.
God spoke two words clearly to Angela’s heart: Worship Me!
You see, that is what God desires. In your darkest season, He calls you to look to Him. Not because He does not care about your pain- but because He does. He wants you to see the tears in His eyes, to be comforted by His protection, to hear His heart beating as He holds you close, to see the strength of His arms and feel the warmth of His embrace so that you will know that no matter what you are facing- He is good and He is able and He loves you.
Story of the miscarriage.
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