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Monday, April 21, 2014

Revival an Reformation Pt. 3: Prayer, Faith-Keeping and God-Dependence



[Listen to the Audio File Here]
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Revival and Reformation Pt 3
Prayer, Faith-keeping and God-Dependence

O LORD God, mighty and magnificent, who hears the prayers of your people, who is FOR your people, and to whom belongs the victory: rouse our hearts to be more fully beney-chayil – sons and daughters of virtue and valor – in this long obedience in the same direction; and grant that your word to us this day will fortify us, in the name of your Son – raised triumphant over sin and society, death and the devil. Amen

“The Fear of God makes a Hero; the fear of man makes a coward” said Sgt Alvin York. There is something in this statement that resonates with our souls. Who wants to be known as a coward? No, most of us have, or still do, day-dream about doing something heroic. Sgt York knew the way; Fear of God over anything. The same thing was said by God to Isaiah in 8:11-13. There God tells Isaiah not to be shaped by the fears of his society. Instead, “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” Or listen again to the Hymn we just sang: “Fear him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear: make you his service your delight; he’ll make your wants his care” (#624). Where am I going with this? Right to this passage: Fearing God gives backbone to be and do right, even when faced by insurmountable odds – because truly fearing God is trusting in him, and trusting in him means being Right. As Walter Kaiser puts it, in his book “Revive Us Again” “The “fear” of the Lord ( . . . ) is nothing less than an attitude of wholehearted trust and glad submission to the living Lord” (155). This is what is laid out in our Biblical text.

The Story....Prayer, Faith-keeping and God-Dependence v. 20 and 22: God toppled their foes because they prayed; God answered them because they kept faith. This is contrasted with 23-26 – where (roughly 300 years later) they broke faith, and were as faithless as a prostitute pursuing profit and pleasure (25), and so no help came, but only defeat and exile (in fact, now they find that the God who once fought for them is now the God who fights against them). This is a New Testament principle as well – James 4.6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”” 1 Peter 5.6-7…. The point: To contrast between Faith-Keeping-God-Dependence with its corollary of being God-enriched vs. Faith-breaking way and its result of being God-opposed! Galatians 6.7Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

And the message for Israel returning from exile is loud and clear! {1} Follow the ancient Paths, where the good way is (Jeremiah 6.16) – be a Faith-keeping-God-dependent people (God Almighty is the Hero!); and turn you back on the Progressive, Innovative, Faith-breaking, pragmatic Paths which may “feel good” [libido, lusts and leisure] but are the ways of treachery and [marital] infidelity with regard to God:  2 Chronicles 20.20c. {2} To be a Faith-Keeping-God-dependent people, crying out with urgency (even in the noise and smoke, grit and dust of battle!) for His aid – for God is the Mighty Warrior/Hero!  Psalm 56:9-Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me!” {3} This is the way to Kingdom Growth; the way to Kingdom Prosperity; and the way to Kingdom Peace. These were some of the major reasons that the editors/historians pulled out of the dusty archives the Jabez-story and these short snippets of historical-data.

And us? What about our place in the story?
We too, are confronted with these stories. They are ultimately for us: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15.4). God is not placing a choice in front of us, he is hammering home that there are two roads and they have significant consequences. The faith-keeping, God-dependent way is the God-enriched way. The Faith-breaking path is the God-opposed way. The Spirit of God is imploring us to avoid the Faith-breaking way, showing us that its end result is the traitor’s end, the adulteress’s filthy, soiled degradation. It’s very much like that time when you were a stubborn, ornery, thick-headed teenager or twenty-something, and you dad or mom sat you down and sternly implored you; “Don’t keep on going down that path Junior. Don’t you see that way is a train wreck!? You’ll crash and burn financially, morally, etc. I want the best for you. This is the better way!”

{1} We are to look to Christ the Warrior/Hero God! 1 Jn 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.” Gal 1:3-5 “the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Though many Christians probably didn’t see it today – here is the world-changing value of Christ rising from the dead: He is the triumphant Cosmos-wide Victor and Sovereign! As we sang at the beginning of this evening’s worship: “Sin’s bond severed, we’re delivered; Christ has bruised the serpent’s head; death no longer is the stronger; hell itself is captive led. Christ has risen from death’s prison; o’er the tomb he light has shed” (243)!!!

{2} We are to become a Christ-dependent people – who follow the Christ-path, the Cross-way of Christ:  Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” 1 John 5:4‑5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
 
{3} Finally, notice in our passage the importance of one other aspect of this. What is emphasized in v. 20? Prayer (2 Chron. 7.14). And in the context, it wasn’t lazy, lollygagging along type of prayer – this was warrior praying! Passionate, zealous, emotional, sweaty, gritty, gutsy prayer! Prayer that flowed from assurance, faith, belief that God could answer. Not some half-hearted, possibility thinking, faith-in-faith kind of formulaic recitation. These fighters prayed, prayed hard, prayed powerful. They prayed (in essence) expand this kingdom turf!  C.f. E. M. Bounds: “The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men...What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men.  He does not anoint plans, but men - men of prayer.”


This is the way, you beney-chayil – you sons and daughters of virtue and valor, this is the way of real revival and reformation. Cultivation of Faith-Keeping-God-dependence and warrior praying, by looking to our Great Warrior/Hero God, Jesus Christ, call out to Him in the battle, and be part of His kingdom’s growth and expansion!  

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