The History Of God

7:1 After the wall had been rebuilt and I had set the doors in place, the gatekeepers,  the musicians  and the Levites  were appointed.

2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah  the commander of the citadel,  because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.

3 I said to them, “The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot. While the gatekeepers are still on duty, have them shut the doors and bar them. Also appoint residents of Jerusalem as guards, some at their posts and some near their own houses.”

4 Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt.

5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there:

6   These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town,

7   in company with Zerubbabel,  Joshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah): The list of the men of Israel:

8  the descendants of Parosh   2,172  

9    of Shephatiah  372

10    of Arah  652   

11    of Pahath-moab (through the line of Jeshua and Joab)  2,818   [supervisors of Moab]

12    of Elam  1,254

13    of Zattu  845

14    of Zakkai  760

15    of Binnui  648

16    of Bebai  628

17    of Azgad  2,322

18    of Adonikam  667

19    of Bigvai  2,067

20    of Adin   655

21    of Ater (through Hezekiah)  98     

22    of Hashum  328      

23    of Bezai  324

24    of Hariph  112

25    of Gibeon  95 

26  the men of Bethlehem and Netophah    188

27    of Anathoth   128

28    of Beth Azmaveth  42

29    of Kiriath Jearim, Kephirah  and Beeroth   743

30    of Ramah and Geba  621

31    of Mikmash  122

32    of Bethel and Ai   123

33    of the other Nebo  52

34    of the other Elam  1,254

35    of Harim  320

36    of Jericho   345

37    of Lod, Hadid and Ono   721

38    of Senaah  3,930 

39 The priests: the descendants of Jedaiah (through the family of Jeshua)   973

40    of Immer  1,052

41    of Pashhur  1,247

42    of Harim  1,017 

43 The Levites: the descendants of Jeshua (through Kadmiel through the line of Hodaviah)   74 

44 The musicians: the descendants of Asaph   148 

45 The gatekeepers: the descendants of  Shallum, Ater, Talmon, Akkub, Hatita and Shobai  138 

46 The temple servants: the descendants of Ziha, Hasupha, Tabbaoth,

47    Keros, Sia, Padon,

48    Lebana, Hagaba, Shalmai,

49    Hanan, Giddel, Gahar,

50    Reaiah, Rezin, Nekoda,

51    Gazzam, Uzza, Paseah,

52    Besai, Meunim, Nephusim,

53    Bakbuk, Hakupha, Harhur,

54    Bazluth, Mehida, Harsha,

55    Barkos, Sisera, Temah,

56    Neziah and Hatipha 

57 The descendants of the servants of Solomon:    the descendants of     Sotai, Sophereth, Perida,

58    Jaala, Darkon, Giddel,

59    Shephatiah, Hattil,    Pokereth-hazzebaim and Amon 

60  The temple servants and the descendants of the servants of Solomon    392 

61   The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

62  the descendants of     Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda  642 

63 And from among the priests:   the descendants of     Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).

64   These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

65   The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. 

66   The whole company numbered 42,360,

67   besides their 7,337 male and female slaves; and they also had 245 male and female singers.

68   There were 736 horses, 245 mules,

69   435 camels and 6,720 donkeys.

70   Some of the heads of the families contributed to the work. The governor gave to the treasury 1,000 darics of gold, 50 bowls and 530 garments for priests.

71   Some of the heads of the families gave to the treasury for the work 20,000 darics of gold and 2,200 minas of silver.

72   The total given by the rest of the people was 20,000 darics of gold, 2,000 minas of silver and 67 garments for priests.

73   The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the musicians and the temple servants, along with certain of the people and the rest of the Israelites, settled in their own towns. When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns,

 

 

There are 18 family names mentioned. 20 different towns and villages.  4,289 priests. And a number of family lines represented by individuals. Plus servants. Nehemiah’s grand total of 49,942 people  (including those mentioned after verse 66) is very close to Ezra’s total of 49,897 (Ezra 2:64-65). The extra 45 in Nehemiah’s total are the singers (Nehemiah had 245 whereas Ezra referred to 200).

We don’t know why there is a difference. It may have been that the count had been taken at different times. It may have been that since the discrepancy is related to the singers that Ezra wasn’t counting the tenors.

 

Actually, there are some other differences between Ezra’s count and Nehemiah’s count, and the difference is probably a combination of discrepancy between women and children; the accounting of the Northern Tribes who were not settled in Jerusalem participated in the rebuild; or it may have been those that are described in verses 61-63, which we’ll take a look at in a moment.

 

Now, while this passage is curious and interesting because it gives us some insight to what was happening at that time, the purpose of this passage is not to give us a history lesson on the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

 

The Bible is not a history book about man.  It is a history book about God. It is the story of God’s love and desire to relate to mankind. To accomplish His purpose and plan in His creation.

 

If you read this passage from the standpoint of the history of man, it becomes rather cumbersome and boring.  But when you read this passage from the standpoint of the history of God and how He seeks to relate to His creation, it becomes a very different and powerful story.

 

You see to us, those names mean very little.  They may be curious or interesting. Especially when you look at what some of the names mean…

 

But the truth that we need to cull from this passage is that every one of these people were important to God.

 

He created every one of them…with a purpose and plan for every one of them…each one with an eternal destiny designed by God.

 

25 … Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh

26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower.

Nehemiah 3:25-26

 

We tend to look at people for what they are worth to us.  God looks at us for what we are worth for eternity.

 

Even the ones that it looked like they had no future…no right to be there…no hope:

 

61   The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Kerub, Addon and Immer, but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel:

62  the descendants of Delaiah, Tobiah and Nekoda  642 

63 And from among the priests:   the descendants of Hobaiah, Hakkoz and Barzillai (a man who had married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite and was called by that name).

64   These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean.

65   The governor, therefore, ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there should be a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. 

Nehemiah 7:61-65

 

These were a number of people there who had no family record. They couldn’t prove their right to the community. They had no identity.

 

But they weren’t excluded without hope.

 

It was required that they meet with a priest that could use the Urim & Thummim to determine their fate.

 

Now, we have no historical evidence to affirm what the Urim & Thummim were.  Many speculate that they were small stones.  Some have suggested they were actually pieces of bone or wood. But whatever they were, they were used to determine fault or innocence, or truth or lie.

 

Urim and Thummim essentially means cursed or faultless

 

The reason they used the Urim and Thummim was because they had not been given the Holy Spirit to lead them.  So God used other methods to reveal truth.  

 

But you have the Holy Spirit!

 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

           

8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

9 about sin, because people do not believe in me;

10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;

11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

John 16:8-11

 

And to use anything other than the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to determine truth and the revelation of God is violating God’s standard and method.

 

Now, back to our passage in Nehemiah where the priest used the Urim and Thummim…

whatever and however it was used, this passage is a beautiful picture of God’s grace.

 

See, none of us has any right to the family of God. Our sin has separated us. We can’t plead immunity because of our lineage or our good works or our good name.  We are separated from God.

 

            For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

 

That’s a desperate position to be in.  In the OT, the priest would use the Urim and Thummin to determine your condition, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

 

But God became our High Priest to provide a way for us to pass from being cursed to being faultless.

 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Hebrews 4:14

 

God provided a way for YOU to have a place in the family of God…forever!

 

The apostle Paul explained it this way:

 

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

Your “Working Faith”

Your “Working Faith”…or maybe notwhen the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

 

Welcome –      — Dan & Marsha …..(no Dan hasn’t retired…….)

Grandkids           1

                                2

Video-2

Announcements/Birthdays —                

Your “Working Faith”…or maybe notwhen the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

(in Luke 18:8 Jesus refers to Jesus second coming. This will be a period of spiritual decline and

persecution, a time that will require perseverance and Faith, but few will endure.)

 

–Opening Prayer     

 

 

 

–   Jessica McClure – 25 years ago –Midland Tx –18 month old – 3 days

 

This morning we’re going to talk about “Working Faith”

 

 

 

How many of you watched some portion of the recent London Summer Olympics? Did you happen to see the Women’s 800 meter Swimming event?  The race is 25 laps long, it takes over 8 minutes, the longest race of the competition.  This year a 15 year old US swimmer (the youngest competitor in the entire Olympics) competed against 9 other seasoned Veterans.  Maybe she didn’t know she should pace herself and not start out so fast. after all its 25 laps. Maybe she forgot she was the only rookie in the pool, but lap after lap she swam her personal best  and lap after lap the TV announcers predicted the other more powerful swimmers would shortly over take her. But 8 minutes and 14 seconds later Katie Ledecky     won the Gold Metal and beat the current World Record Holder, who was 2 lanes away. She beat a USA record set 23 years ago. Ledecky is the youngest athlete in any sport from any country to win gold since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

 

How did she do it?  She wasn’t satisfied to just be there as an Olympic competitor, against all odds, she believed she could win.  Her training and preparation prepared her for that grueling 8 minutes.          She believed and acted on that Belief.

 

 

We may not be as dedicated as Katie Ledecky, but we all practice some degree of Faith

          The Sun will be up each morning

          The Lights will turn on when I hit the switch

          The coffee maker will have a fresh brew when I get out of bed in the morning, or in my case, Sue will have a fresh cup ready for me along with my vitamins

But is that really Faith or just habit…

 

 

***– Oswald Chambers—“My Utmost for His Highest”– Faith

                “Faith in active opposition to common sense is mistaken enthusiasm and narrow-mindedness, and common sense in opposition to faith demonstrates a mistaken reliance on reason as the basis for truth.”

 

 

***We all know what “Spiritual Faith” is, but here’s Dan’s definition:

 

ž   “Faith” is Trusting Obedience to the Known Will of God

***(MY EXAMPLE)  57 VW        ***Faith Is Not A Head Thing, It’s A Heart Thing      

 

 

Video-3 –

Don’t let your Failures define your legacy, develop a Working Faith and God will use you, despite your failures.  We Serve a God of second chances.

 

However, Faith can actually be an Obstacle to our Spiritual Growth.       Sometimes we have no Power behind our Faith  We know Faith exists and we Believe, but it’s not really an active force in our Life and consequently we dismiss it as not being relevant to our spiritual walk. We don’t have a “Working Faith”

 

What does Scripture says about this practical side of Faith, this “Working Faith”

In Matthew 17:20    Jesus explained to His Disciples……..

 

MT 17:20 …..”Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. “

          Can you really believe that?  Maybe it’s just symbolic or a metaphor meaning something else.                         (don’t you just hate when someone says that?      Scripture means what it says & the Holy Spirit will interpret that Scripture for us)

                                           

How about this “Working Faith” example

GE 22:1 Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

    “Here I am,” he replied.

 

    GE 22:2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

 

    GE 22:3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.  On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

 

    Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,  Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

    “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

    “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

 

    Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

 

    When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

    “Here I am,” he replied.

 

    “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

 

(An often overlooked  example of Faith is Abraham’s son Isaac——————-    17yrs old carried wood)

I look at this example and I know my Working Faith isn’t strong enough to be obedient and sacrifice one of my sons to God

( although some days,……. maybe  a minor injury.)

 

 

 

***Was God testing Abrahams Faith?              Does He test our Faith?? 

DEUTERONOMY 13:3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

2 CHRONICLES 32:31  . . . God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (the Prophet Hezekiah, whether he would place his trust in human treaties or in God)

PSALM 11:4-5  The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
 The Lord tests the righteous .

ISAIAH 48:10  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  (Israel, God’s chosen people were rebellious)

JOHN 6:5-6  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do….(tested Disciples)

JAMES 1:2-3  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (Jesus step brother written to Believers)

 

So, God does Test our Faith,

But it’s always an Open-Book Test, & With the help of God’s instruction Book we SHOULD always pass the test,      but we don’t.

 

I used to think God doesn’t test us. I reasoned that He knew what was in us, so He had no need to test us.

Well, he does know — but WE don’t.   Each time we step out in Faith & see a glimpse of God’s Plan for our Lives, we Trust and Grow and are open to be used by Him to a greater degree.

 

As God tests our Faith, (and if we stay faithful), we can see a little more of His Plan & enjoy Victory (however sometimes Victory is a long time coming).  As our Working Faith grows, God will give us greater responsibilities.

It often seems the larger the God given opportunity ahead — the bigger the test required now. God tests our Faith to prepare us. Think of Moses or Abraham or Paul, they were all given great responsibility but not until they had overcome great adversity and each had established a Working Faith.

In school students are tested to determine whether they’ve mastered the Subject.

A student may think they’re ready to graduate, but testing is a reality check that forces the student to see the real situation 

Learning and Growth involve testing;  testing lets you know how you’re Working Faith is doing.

If you are not satisfied with your Faith walk, spend more time in God’s Word and in Prayer.  Get serious about your Spiritual Connection & deepen your relationship with God

 

Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

            –When was the last time you read your Bible, other than on a Sunday? Or listened to a Christian radio station, or got on your knees in humility to God

That’s how you develop a Working Faith;   develop a closer connection with God.

 

 

 

 

Remember Peter   (right after the feeding of the 5000)    Matt 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
but the boat was already a considerable distance£ from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night (they divided the night into four watches. These watches consisted of three hours each . beginning at 6 o’clock in the evening. the fourth was from three AM until six.AM, is was called the morning watch. )Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

What would you have done if you were in that boat?  Yeah, exactly what the other Disciples did,   look for the Life Preservers…

  Why don’t we have a “Working Faith”?   A Faith that works, a Faith we can count on when our Life gets tough and dishes up a Trial or Temptation.  Instead we look for our “water wings” and hope they don’t spring a leak.

(John Ortberg  – If you Want to Walk on Water, you’ve got to get Out of the Boat)

 

***A Working Faith requires not only being convinced that WHAT we believe in is true, (just knowing the truth is only half of working faith). We must ACT on thatFaith and Live our lives accordingly.

         

Brother Mike —  Stock Market

 

What did Dan say again about Faith……

ž              “Faith” is Trusting Obedience to the Known Will of God

“Trusting” when common sense tells you not to; “Obedience” when your brain tells you Reason should be your basis for Truth

 

***How do we “know God’s Will” for us? 

Did you ever wish for a Burning Bush experience?

 

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that God first and foremost wants us to have a personal relationship with Him, and bring glory to Him by the way we live our lives.

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31). (Greatest Commandments)

                                           AND

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart   and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,    and he will make your paths straight”. Prov 3:5-6

 

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” Jeremiah 29:11.

 

 

The biblical principle is that we live in the Present trusting in the Lord, daily living our lives obedient to Him, and He’ll direct us towards what He wants us to do in the future. 

We live by Faith, trusting in the Lord today, and by this process God will prepare us for future service and get us to where He wants us to be.   If we are living today for the Lord, the future will take care of itself.

Romans 12:1 …”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

If you do decide to step out in Faith & “Present your Bodies as a Living sacrifice & don’t Conform to the Standards of this World” , how do we know God does have a Plan for our Lives; not just a long term Plan, but a Plan for today & tomorrow & the day after that.

 

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.   Jeremiah 1:5

 

Psalm 139:  1-4, 13-17

 O LORD, you have searched me    and you know me.

 You know when I sit and when I rise;    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 You discern my going out and my lying down;    you are familiar with all my ways.

 Before a word is on my tongue    you know it completely, O LORD………………………………….

 

 For you created my inmost being;    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;    your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.

 My frame was not hidden from you    when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,  your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me    were written in your book    before one of them came to be.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!    How vast is the sum of them!

 

Example –Pastor Brandon/Deacon Mtg – Names & God – Stars/each Hair

 

 

So, “Working Faith” starts with God, not us. If you’re making decisions based primarily on “You”,  then you have your priorities backwards and you’ll not reach your full spiritual potential;    it’s God first, then you.

Rick Warren said in his multi-zillion selling book The Purpose Driven Life, “It’s not about You”  Life is about God.   God is the Creator of all, and all of creation exists to bring Him glory.

    Our Journey to a Working Faith, begins with an acknowledgement of God’s place in our Life.

 

That’s the order laid out by Christ in Matthew 10:39,

“If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me” (The Message).

 

 

You must want to Seek Gods’ Will & make it a daily priority in your Life if you want a “Working Faith” like Abrahams, Peters, Paul’s    or DAN’S

 

- Joni Erickson Tada       Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.
     It’s  simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.
                                                                       

 

“Trusting Obedience”

Trusting is “taking God at His word”,  Obedienceis Acting on that Faith& “taking the next step”

 

 

Heb 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

Heb 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

 

Heb 11:1 (NEB) Faith… makes us certain of realities we do not see.

The New English Bible (NEB) is a translation of the Bible into modern English directly from the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic

 

Heb 11:1 (Mof) Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see.

James Moffat published one of the first Modern Translations of the Bible in 1926

 

Heb 11:1 (Wey) Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

John Wycliffe produced the first complete English language Bible in the late 14th Century

 

 

HEB 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

          Do you believe He rewards those who faithfully seek Him?

 

For a lot of years I didn’t have a plan; I was a Christian who lived day to day…I didn’t have a Working Faith, but He still took care of me and my Family, waiting for me to Trust & to Grow

 

Does that describe you? Do you have a Working Faith in God?  Is it a “REAL” part of your life?  If not, what’s the point?  Don’t be just a member of a “Spiritual Party”  Who attends “Party Meetings” on Sundays.  Faith may be part of your Life, but is it a daily Priority in your Life?

Like the car that doesn’t drive or a light without power, so is the man of Faith who Life doesn’t reflect a Working Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord.

 

Remember, Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.  Rom 10:17 

 

.***God requires belief and trust in moments of human weakness, but Faith is what makes us strong. Faith is the state of being convinced that God is in control even if it seems to make no sense. However, Faith without “feet” is futile.

 

So tomorrow morning when you wake up    turn over control of your day to the Lord; start your day in Prayer renouncing your own way and commit the day to Christ as Lord. This habit of committing to Jesus first each day, will develop in you a Working Faith.  Remember, Christ already has a Plan for your Day, but only if you allow Him to be a bigger part of your Life.  It’s a journey, it takes time and patience, but you’ve got to take the first step..

 

–Your “Working Faith”…or maybe not  LK 18:8 …. when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Are you content with the Working Faith in your Life?  

When Christ returns, and He will, Will He find you with a Working Faith that reflects the kind of relationship you want with God?  

 

I’d like to close with this verse:.

 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”                 1Cor 2:9-13, 15-16

 

Closing Prayer                  Next Week                  Dan returns    (I Promise)

Power Praying (Continued)

Matt 6

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

(for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.)

I. REVIEW

There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. This one in Matthew 6 and one in Luke 11. They are quite similar, but there are differences. Why?

Most likely the prayer was taught several times. Jesus was a Rabbi (teacher). He was addressed and treated that way by the crowds, His enemies, and His disciples. When He taught, He usually sat; the teaching posture of that era of Rabbis. He taught on a number of topics that Rabbis only were allowed to teach. Rabbis often taught prayers to their followers by repeating them. So, the slight differentiation would be perfectly normal.

We’re going to take a look at the Matthew version because of it’s detail and setting.

A. Our Father In Heaven

There are over 50 prayers recorded in the Bible before this one (72 prayers in the Bible), and not once is God addressed in a prayer as Father. Jesus suddenly introduced a whole new concept!

Now, the Jews were not unfamiliar with the Father God concept, but praying that way was incredibly new. Jesus was saying, when you pray it needs to be very personal, intimate, and real.

B. 6 Petitions

Now, at this point we begin what some have called the 6 Petitions. There are six requests made during the rest of the Lord’s Prayer:

Your Kingdom Come

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

Forgive Us Our Debts (Sins) As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Deliver Us From The Evil One

1. Your Kingdom Come

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)

Righteousness: “dikaiosune” The work (things) we do because of our

holiness (set aside for God)

Peace: “Eirene” Restored Quiet Rest

Joy: “Chara” Full (total) Delight

Now that’s a Kingdom!!! And wherever God’s kingdom or His Lordship is found, there will be totally changed people; people who live for God; people who know Jesus as Lord of their lives; people who have discovered the power of the Holy Spirit in and through their lives.

The kingdom of heaven is the willing acceptance of God’s rule within our individual lives. It is a kingdom of grace and forgiveness. And that Kingdom changes our lives; it changes our homes; it changes the way we do business; it changes the way we treat ourselves, our families, our friends, and the other people in our lives. It changes the way we think. It changes the way we live!

2. Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

This is an interesting statement that Jesus introduces. It is a recommitment to yielding to God’s way.

I LOVE that Jesus taught us to pray this: Your will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven.” God’s will can be done here on earth in the same way that it is done in heaven!!! That means that we really can have close to heaven on earth!!!

How so???

a. Heaven Is God’s Kingdom Without Dominion Of Sin!

b. Heaven Is A Place Full Of God’s Gifts!

c. Heaven Is A Place Where God’s People Gather

d. Heaven Is A Place Of Knowledge and Understanding!

e. Heaven Is A Place Of Childlike Wonder

f. Heaven Is A Place Of Treasure

g. Heaven Is A Place Where You Will Have Angelic Qualities

II. THE 6 PETITIONS cont.

A. Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

This is a breath-taking statement and petition.

The term for “daily” is never used anywhere else in the Bible. It’s not even used in classical

Greek literature. It is a compound word: “epiousios” – meaning supervening existence.

That, combined with the word “bread” reads “Give us for today that bread which causes us to continue to exist.” In other words, meet our needs for today.

One of the major flaws of human nature is that we live for tomorrow. Just about everything that we plan and do today has implications for tomorrow. We work today so we can retire tomorrow. We save money today so we can buy something we need tomorrow.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s quite wise to do so. But Jesus’ ministry put a great emphasis on “today”.

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow.

They do not labor or spin.

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:28-30)

In the story of Zacchaeus,

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. (Luke 19:5,9)

But the great truth behind this petition is that God is in the business of meeting needs! It’s what He WANTS to do!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all

times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

(2 Cor 9:8)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may

receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4:16)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet 1:3)

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

To pray “Give us today our daily bread” is to acknowledge that you are completely dependent on God TODAY; that you are not planning a scheming behind God’s back; that you do not have a “Plan B”.

Now, I want to give some clarity to this. God does not say that you shouldn’t plan for tomorrow He does not say you shouldn’t be wise and financially astute. Look at the way Jesus explained it:

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.

17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

The term “rich toward God” means focused and dependent on God, realizing that God is your source, your provider. It is a pathetic person who is financially wealthy, but not spiritually wealthy.

B. Forgive Us Our Debts As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

This 4th Petition has two parts. But the focus of both parts should be the forgiveness

aspect as opposed to the indebtedness aspect.

Now, the word for debts here, “opheilema”, does mean debt or obligation, but it is also a

word that was used to refer to a debt that is in default – that cannot be paid

appropriately because the payment has already been missed. In other words, if I

borrowed a hundred bucks from you and promised to pay it back on Friday, but missed

the deadline, now I still owe you the money, but I have also failed my obligation to pay it

on time – in a sense a double fault.

1. Forgive Us Our Debts.

The fact is we are not able to pay the debt of our sin. Any sin is an offense

against God. The penalty for any sin against God is death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in

Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

Without God’s forgiveness you are in default – not only have you not paid for

your sin, you have not paid for it on time. And the only way out of that mess is

God’s mercy – His forgiveness. Forgiveness that wipes the slate clean.

So, when you sin you need to ask and receive God’s forgiveness.

2. Forgive your Debtors.

Likewise, there are those who have offended you. They’ve lied to you; said

something inappropriate; they’ve hurt you; etc. Now, we’re not talking about

legal offenses here. We’re talking about personal offenses. Legal offenses are

handled by the law. They have a whole different set of guidelines and

requirements. But personal offenses are ours to forgive. Ours to release.

But how do you do that when you’ve been hurt so badly?

The secret is in the little word “as”.

Our forgiveness of others is to be a reflection of God’s forgiveness of us.

How does that happen?

Well, God’s forgiveness is based on the fact that the penalty of death for your

offense against God was paid on the cross by Jesus. In the same way, Jesus

paid for the offense that was made against you.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we

might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)

a. Notice that He became sin…for US. God the Father pounded your

sin onto the cross. And He also pounded the sin of the person who

has offended you onto the cross.

b. If you can receive the forgiveness for your sin…you can receive the

forgiveness for the sin of the person of offended you.

C. Lead Us Not Into Temptation

This is one of the oddest statements. Doesn’t the Bible say:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. (James 1:13)

The key to understanding this is in the word “Lead”. The word literally means “to carry or deliver to the point or the edge” of something. The perfect word picture is that of a delivery man bringing something and leaving it at your door.

So the idea here is “God, don’t leave me when I’m at the point of temptation.”

It is an acknowledgement that we are weak; that we need God’s strength; that we are dependent on His watchful, loving protection; that without Him, we are vulnerable and complicit to sin.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Cor 10:13)

D. Deliver Us From The Evil One

There is a common belief among many biblical scholars that “The Evil One” is intended here. The main reason given is that it follows the petition on temptation and temptation is normally attributed to the devil.

But I’m not sure that is sufficient enough to say that Jesus was referring to the devil. I maintain that Jesus meant to use the term He used and that He meant evil.

He used the same word in his prayer for the disciples in the Upper Room, and again the NIV interprets it as “the evil one”, but Jesus really just used the word for evil.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15)

A better way to understand the flow of the prayer here is to understand the Biblical concept of human evil. The Apostle Paul explained it this way:

19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Rom 7:19-20)

James explained it this way:

14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15)

So, at the root of sin is evil. Your sin is rooted in evil – that evil nature which exists in

you; that nature which when allow to run unchecked wreaks havoc in our lives.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.(Rom 6:12)

So how do you deal with that root of evil in you life?

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1-2)

a. Recognize that only Christ can overcome your sin.

b. Stay in the will of God.

c. Trust this promise from God:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Tim 4:18)

E. The Doxology

The last line that we normally include when saying the Lord’s Prayer apparently was not included in the original manuscripts. In fact the earliest record we have of it is from sometime in the second century.

There’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing inappropriate. No doubt it was well-intended, but it was apparently not part of the original prayer.

That being said, it probably came from an earlier prayer by David in the OT:

11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (1 Chron 29:11-14)

Praying Like Jesus

POWER PRAYING

Matthew 6:5-13

PRAYING LIKE JESUS

Matt 6

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

(for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.)

 

I. PRAYER MISTAKES (:5-8)

 

A. False Praying (:5-6)

 

1. Hypocritical Praying – pretending prayer

 

2. Using Prayer To Build Personal Esteem

 

3. Power praying is private and personal

 

B. Manipulation Praying (:7-8)

 

1. Prayer is not about asking for the same thing over and over until you get it!

It is not some sort of superstition where if you say just the right combination

of words you cast some sort of spell like the pagans attempt to do.

 

2. Many have misinterpreted what Jesus taught in Luke 18:

 

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.

3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,

5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

(Luke 18:1-5)

 

What Jesus was teaching here was to never give up on your prayers…even when

the circumstances (unjust judge) seem to come against your requests.

 

3. Anytime you pray attempting to convince God of something, you are “babbling

like a pagan”. You are pitting yourself against spiritual power in some sort of

spiritual chess match and you will not win – why? Because God’s not listening.

You insult Him when you pray that way. You make it clear that you don’t know

the One to whom you pray. You don’t understand what prayer is.

 

4. Verse 8 is the calm and pointed reminder from Jesus that God knows what’s

going on. God never says, “What’s going on here?” He knows you. He knows

your circumstances. He knows what you need. What He wants to hear from you

is your total reliance and trust in Him. He wants you to get your eyes of the

problem and on to Him – the source; the solution.

 

II. DISCOVERING THE PRAYER (:9-13)

 

There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. This one in Matthew 6 and one in Luke 11. They are quite similar, but there are differences. Why?

 

Most likely the prayer was taught several times. Jesus was a Rabbi (teacher). He was addressed and treated that way by the crowds, His enemies, and His disciples. When He taught, He usually sat; the teaching posture of that era of Rabbis. He taught on a number of topics that Rabbis only were allowed to teach. Rabbis often taught prayers to their followers by repeating them. So, the slight differentiation would be perfectly normal.

 

We’re going to take a look at the Matthew version because of it’s detail and setting.

A. Our Father In Heaven

There are over 50 prayers recorded in the Bible before this one (72 prayers in the Bible), and not once is God addressed in a prayer as Father. Jesus suddenly introduced a whole new concept!

 

Now, the Jews were not unfamiliar with the Father God concept, but praying that way was incredibly new. Jesus was saying, when you pray it needs to be very personal, intimate, and real.

 

It does not need to be public and/or impressive.

 

You don’t need a human intercessor. You don’t need a priest to do your praying. In fact, you don’t need anyone to do your praying for you.

 

This is where our Catholic friends have it wrong. Praying and asking other saints in heaven to intercede for you…to pray for you…violates the very privilege that you have as a child of God – to crawl up into God’s lap and have a heart to heart talk with Him. Nowhere did Jesus ever teach to pray to anyone but to The Father.

 

 

The apostle Paul made it even clearer that those who have the Spirit of God in them can address Him as ‘Abba’, ‘Father, my Father’.

 

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15)

 

That is the privilege of God’s people. We can approach God as the perfect Father/child relationship. We can come to Him knowing that He accepts us that way, and is wanting us to come to Him that way!

 

But notice that Jesus said to pray to “Our” Father.

What an amazing statement! We belong to each other as a family because of our OUR FATHER!

 

When we truly begin to grasp that our brothers and sisters in Christ really are family, it will move our hearts with God-like compassion, challenging us to give and forgive, to share and to care for those around us.

And OUR Father will be so pleased!

B. Hallowed Be Your Name.

The word “hallowed” means “holy”, but the intent is “to be honored” or to hold in high esteem.

If we do not have a high regard for people who live or work with us, if we simply take no notice of them, if we are just not interested in their opinion, let alone their advice or moral judgment, if we ignore them: neighbor, teacher, husband, wife, colleague, or whomever, we ignore them because we regard their opinion and their advice as irrelevant. Many people act the same way towards God. We ignore him, we fail to honor the God who holds our very existence in the palm of His hand.

 

But if we have a high regard for someone, we are totally interested in their input and opinion. We honor them. The same thing is true with God. As we make our choices we should be asking, “Lord, what do You think about this. What do You have to say about this matter? That’s how we honor Him.

 

So we are to honor Him. But what does it mean that His Name is hallowed?

 

The Bible gives great significance to the NAME of God:

 

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe. (Pro 18:10)

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13)

“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isa 42:8)

In that culture and in most cultures, a person’s name is of extreme importance. A

name is one’s identity. In the same way that the word chair identifies what an object is, one’s name identifies a person, and we associate all the characteristics, talents and abilities that that one person has with their name.

 

For example when I say Michael Jackson, many of you think of a singer, some of you think dancer, and some of you think “why do they let some people breed?”. But his name encompasses all that she is. If I say Donald Trump, many of you think wealthy investor. Some think TV Show personality. Some of you think “how does he get his hair to do that?” But his name encompasses all that he is.

 

What God was saying was “I am the Lord, and you’re not!” Quit trying to be something that you aren’t. I am Lord, and I’m not going to share that responsibility or authority with anyone else, so don’t even think that you’re in charge.

 

So, “Hallowed be Your Name” is a way of acknowledging that you are not in charge – God is. You are not in control – He is. You are not on the throne – He is. It’s His Kingdom!

 

Therefore, God teaches us to pray for the establishment of God’s Kingdom…

C. Your Kingdom Come

Now, at this point we begin what some have called the 6 Petitions. There are six requests made during the rest of the Lord’s Prayer:

Your Kingdom Come

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

Forgive Us Our Debts (Sins) As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Deliver Us From The Evil One

The kingdom of God is described a number of different ways in the Bible: ‘The kingdom of heaven,’ ‘The kingdom of God,’ ‘The kingdom of Christ and of God,’ ‘The kingdom of his beloved Son’ and in Revelation it’s called ‘The kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.’

Israel was ready for the Kingdom of God to come. When John the Baptizer spoke about it, proclaiming that the Messiah was at hand, it created quite a stir. Then when Jesus came along – the one John pointed out as the Messiah – and made statements like the one recorded in Mark 1 –

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the

good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)

 

They were beside themselves. Could it be? Could it be what they had been waiting for, for so long? Had the time come when Roman rule would be overthrown, and everyone in the world that had stood against Jehovah would be destroyed, and the final, perfect Kingdom of God would be established in Israel? Were they about to witness this massive political upheaval that they had been hoping for?

 

22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had

authority, not as the teachers of the law.

23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out,

24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I

know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”

26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new

teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”

28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:22-28)

 

But Jesus had some disappointing news for Israel: God’s Kingdom isn’t about armies and crusades, and conquests, and battlefields. The kingdom of God extends beyond the boundaries of this world, and therefore cannot be limited or contained by the definitions of this world.

And the things He said about the Kingdom of God were disconcerting!

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mat 12:28)

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:3)

“…the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

 

And not only did Jesus rile up the political factions that were ready to overthrow the government, but He really riled up the religious establishment when He said things like:

 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:20)

 

…because what He was saying was that the Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t about political rule, NOR was it about religious rule! It wasn’t about how religious you acted, or about how much of the scriptures you knew! What He was saying to the Pharisees and Religious leaders was that their form of religion didn’t cut it with God, and that anyone could be more righteous than they were!

 

In fact, Jesus went on to say:

 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

 

So, when Jesus teaches us to pray “Your Kingdom come…”, what does He mean?

 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)

Righteousness: “dikaiosune” The work (things) we do because of our

holiness (set aside for God)

 

Peace: “Eirene” Restored Quiet Rest

 

Joy: “Chara” Full (total) Delight

 

Now that’s a Kingdom!!! And wherever God’s kingdom or His Lordship is found, there will be totally changed people; people who live for God; people who know Jesus as Lord of their lives; people who have discovered the power of the Holy Spirit in and through their lives.

 

The kingdom of heaven is the willing acceptance of God’s rule within our individual lives. It is a kingdom of grace and forgiveness. And that Kingdom changes our lives; it changes our homes; it changes the way we do business; it changes the way we treat ourselves, our families, our friends, and the other people in our lives. It changes the way we think. It changes the way we live!

D. Your Will Be Done

This is an interesting statement that Jesus introduces. It is a recommitment to yielding to God’s way.

 

The book of Daniel tells an amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow down to the King, so they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment.

 

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan 3:16-17)

The words “But even if he does not…” are basically the same thing that Jesus said to pray – “But God, no matter what, You’re will be done.”

Jesus prayed this same way as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane as he got ready to face the cross. He asked the Father to spare Him the agony, but then said:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

(Luke 22:42)

The greatest peace, the greatest hope, the greatest rest comes from immersing ourselves in this wonderful resignation and commitment: “God, the pressure is on right now; I don’t know what to do; I don’t know what choice to make; I don’t have any good options; things don’t look good for me… but Your Will Be Done!”

When we discover how to pray that legitimately, it will totally change our lives.

E. On Earth

We must live out God’s will on earth, even though we know that someday we will enjoy His will in heaven!

F. As It Is In Heaven

I LOVE that Jesus taught us to pray this: Your will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven.” God’s will can be done here on earth in the same way that it is done in heaven!!! That means that we really can have close to heaven on earth!!!

How so???

 

1. Heaven Is God’s Kingdom Without Dominion Of Sin!

 

But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne. (Mat 5:34)

 

2. Heaven Is A Place Full Of God’s Gifts!

 

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Mat 7:11)

 

3. Heaven Is A Place Where God’s People Gather

 

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 8:11)

 

4. Heaven Is A Place Of Knowledge and Understanding!

 

He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. (Mat 13:11)

 

 

5. Heaven Is A Place Of Childlike Wonder

 

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them.

3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:1-4)

PRAYING LIKE JESUS

Matt 6

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

(for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.)

I. PRAYER MISTAKES (:5-8)

A. False Praying (:5-6)

1. Hypocritical Praying – pretending prayer

2. Using Prayer To Build Personal Esteem

3. Power praying is private and personal

B. Manipulation Praying (:7-8)

1. Prayer is not about asking for the same thing over and over until you get it!

It is not some sort of superstition where if you say just the right combination

of words you cast some sort of spell like the pagans attempt to do.

2. Many have misinterpreted what Jesus taught in Luke 18:

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.

3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,

5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

(Luke 18:1-5)

What Jesus was teaching here was to never give up on your prayers…even when

the circumstances (unjust judge) seem to come against your requests.

3. Anytime you pray attempting to convince God of something, you are “babbling

like a pagan”. You are pitting yourself against spiritual power in some sort of

spiritual chess match and you will not win – why? Because God’s not listening.

You insult Him when you pray that way. You make it clear that you don’t know

the One to whom you pray. You don’t understand what prayer is.

4. Verse 8 is the calm and pointed reminder from Jesus that God knows what’s

going on. God never says, “What’s going on here?” He knows you. He knows

your circumstances. He knows what you need. What He wants to hear from you

is your total reliance and trust in Him. He wants you to get your eyes of the

problem and on to Him – the source; the solution.

II. DISCOVERING THE PRAYER (:9-13)

There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. This one in Matthew 6 and one in Luke 11. They are quite similar, but there are differences. Why?

Most likely the prayer was taught several times. Jesus was a Rabbi (teacher). He was addressed and treated that way by the crowds, His enemies, and His disciples. When He taught, He usually sat; the teaching posture of that era of Rabbis. He taught on a number of topics that Rabbis only were allowed to teach. Rabbis often taught prayers to their followers by repeating them. So, the slight differentiation would be perfectly normal.

We’re going to take a look at the Matthew version because of it’s detail and setting.

A. Our Father In Heaven

There are over 50 prayers recorded in the Bible before this one (72 prayers in the Bible), and not once is God addressed in a prayer as Father. Jesus suddenly introduced a whole new concept!

Now, the Jews were not unfamiliar with the Father God concept, but praying that way was incredibly new. Jesus was saying, when you pray it needs to be very personal, intimate, and real.

It does not need to be public and/or impressive.

You don’t need a human intercessor. You don’t need a priest to do your praying. In fact, you don’t need anyone to do your praying for you.

This is where our Catholic friends have it wrong. Praying and asking other saints in heaven to intercede for you…to pray for you…violates the very privilege that you have as a child of God – to crawl up into God’s lap and have a heart to heart talk with Him. Nowhere did Jesus ever teach to pray to anyone but to The Father.

The apostle Paul made it even clearer that those who have the Spirit of God in them can address Him as ‘Abba’, ‘Father, my Father’.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15)

That is the privilege of God’s people. We can approach God as the perfect Father/child relationship. We can come to Him knowing that He accepts us that way, and is wanting us to come to Him that way!

But notice that Jesus said to pray to “Our” Father.

What an amazing statement! We belong to each other as a family because of our OUR FATHER!

When we truly begin to grasp that our brothers and sisters in Christ really are family, it will move our hearts with God-like compassion, challenging us to give and forgive, to share and to care for those around us.

And OUR Father will be so pleased!

B. Hallowed Be Your Name.

The word “hallowed” means “holy”, but the intent is “to be honored” or to hold in high esteem.

If we do not have a high regard for people who live or work with us, if we simply take no notice of them, if we are just not interested in their opinion, let alone their advice or moral judgment, if we ignore them: neighbor, teacher, husband, wife, colleague, or whomever, we ignore them because we regard their opinion and their advice as irrelevant. Many people act the same way towards God. We ignore him, we fail to honor the God who holds our very existence in the palm of His hand.

But if we have a high regard for someone, we are totally interested in their input and opinion. We honor them. The same thing is true with God. As we make our choices we should be asking, “Lord, what do You think about this. What do You have to say about this matter? That’s how we honor Him.

So we are to honor Him. But what does it mean that His Name is hallowed?

The Bible gives great significance to the NAME of God:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe. (Pro 18:10)

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13)

“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isa 42:8)

In that culture and in most cultures, a person’s name is of extreme importance. A

name is one’s identity. In the same way that the word chair identifies what an object is, one’s name identifies a person, and we associate all the characteristics, talents and abilities that that one person has with their name.

For example when I say Michael Jackson, many of you think of a singer, some of you think dancer, and some of you think “why do they let some people breed?”. But his name encompasses all that she is. If I say Donald Trump, many of you think wealthy investor. Some think TV Show personality. Some of you think “how does he get his hair to do that?” But his name encompasses all that he is.

What God was saying was “I am the Lord, and you’re not!” Quit trying to be something that you aren’t. I am Lord, and I’m not going to share that responsibility or authority with anyone else, so don’t even think that you’re in charge.

So, “Hallowed be Your Name” is a way of acknowledging that you are not in charge – God is. You are not in control – He is. You are not on the throne – He is. It’s His Kingdom!

Therefore, God teaches us to pray for the establishment of God’s Kingdom…

C. Your Kingdom Come

Now, at this point we begin what some have called the 6 Petitions. There are six requests made during the rest of the Lord’s Prayer:

Your Kingdom Come

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

Forgive Us Our Debts (Sins) As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Deliver Us From The Evil One

The kingdom of God is described a number of different ways in the Bible: ‘The kingdom of heaven,’ ‘The kingdom of God,’ ‘The kingdom of Christ and of God,’ ‘The kingdom of his beloved Son’ and in Revelation it’s called ‘The kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.’

Israel was ready for the Kingdom of God to come. When John the Baptizer spoke about it, proclaiming that the Messiah was at hand, it created quite a stir. Then when Jesus came along – the one John pointed out as the Messiah – and made statements like the one recorded in Mark 1 –

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the

good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)

They were beside themselves. Could it be? Could it be what they had been waiting for, for so long? Had the time come when Roman rule would be overthrown, and everyone in the world that had stood against Jehovah would be destroyed, and the final, perfect Kingdom of God would be established in Israel? Were they about to witness this massive political upheaval that they had been hoping for?

22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had

authority, not as the teachers of the law.

23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out,

24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I

know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!”

26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new

teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”

28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:22-28)

But Jesus had some disappointing news for Israel: God’s Kingdom isn’t about armies and crusades, and conquests, and battlefields. The kingdom of God extends beyond the boundaries of this world, and therefore cannot be limited or contained by the definitions of this world.

And the things He said about the Kingdom of God were disconcerting!

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mat 12:28)

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:3)

“…the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

And not only did Jesus rile up the political factions that were ready to overthrow the government, but He really riled up the religious establishment when He said things like:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:20)

…because what He was saying was that the Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t about political rule, NOR was it about religious rule! It wasn’t about how religious you acted, or about how much of the scriptures you knew! What He was saying to the Pharisees and Religious leaders was that their form of religion didn’t cut it with God, and that anyone could be more righteous than they were!

In fact, Jesus went on to say:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

So, when Jesus teaches us to pray “Your Kingdom come…”, what does He mean?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)

Righteousness: “dikaiosune” The work (things) we do because of our

holiness (set aside for God)

Peace: “Eirene” Restored Quiet Rest

Joy: “Chara” Full (total) Delight

Now that’s a Kingdom!!! And wherever God’s kingdom or His Lordship is found, there will be totally changed people; people who live for God; people who know Jesus as Lord of their lives; people who have discovered the power of the Holy Spirit in and through their lives.

The kingdom of heaven is the willing acceptance of God’s rule within our individual lives. It is a kingdom of grace and forgiveness. And that Kingdom changes our lives; it changes our homes; it changes the way we do business; it changes the way we treat ourselves, our families, our friends, and the other people in our lives. It changes the way we think. It changes the way we live!

D. Your Will Be Done

This is an interesting statement that Jesus introduces. It is a recommitment to yielding to God’s way.

The book of Daniel tells an amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow down to the King, so they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment.

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan 3:16-17)

The words “But even if he does not…” are basically the same thing that Jesus said to pray – “But God, no matter what, You’re will be done.”

Jesus prayed this same way as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane as he got ready to face the cross. He asked the Father to spare Him the agony, but then said:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

(Luke 22:42)

The greatest peace, the greatest hope, the greatest rest comes from immersing ourselves in this wonderful resignation and commitment: “God, the pressure is on right now; I don’t know what to do; I don’t know what choice to make; I don’t have any good options; things don’t look good for me… but Your Will Be Done!”

When we discover how to pray that legitimately, it will totally change our lives.

E. On Earth

We must live out God’s will on earth, even though we know that someday we will enjoy His will in heaven!

F. As It Is In Heaven

I LOVE that Jesus taught us to pray this: Your will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven.” God’s will can be done here on earth in the same way that it is done in heaven!!! That means that we really can have close to heaven on earth!!!

How so???

1. Heaven Is God’s Kingdom Without Dominion Of Sin!

But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne. (Mat 5:34)

2. Heaven Is A Place Full Of God’s Gifts!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Mat 7:11)

3. Heaven Is A Place Where God’s People Gather

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 8:11)

4. Heaven Is A Place Of Knowledge and Understanding!

He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. (Mat 13:11)

5. Heaven Is A Place Of Childlike Wonder

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child and had him stand among them.

3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 18:1-4)

6. Heaven Is A Place Of Complete Access To God!

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Mat 18:10)

7. Heaven Is A Place Of Treasure

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mat 19:21)

8. Heaven Is A Place Where You Will Have Angelic Qualities

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (Mat 22:30)

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

(for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.) (Matt 6:9-13)

The Power of Supernatural Praying

I. WHAT PRAYER IS NOT

 

Matthew 6:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

 

A. It’s Not About How Spiritual You Are.

 

B. It’s Not About What Other People Think.

 

C. It’s Not About Words.

 

II. TRUE PRAYER HAPPENS IN RELATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

Anything less than Praying In The Spirit is just wishing.

 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests… (Eph 6:18)

 

A. Power Praying Is Always Fundamental To Spiritual Growth.

 

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (Jude :20)

 

B. Power Praying Is Always Connected With The Holy Spirit.

 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Eph 3:16)

 

C. Power Praying Is Always Motivated By The Holy Spirit.

 

*ROMANS 8:

25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Rom 8:25-27)

1. Prayer Gives Us Hope (;25)

 

a. Hope – “confident anticipation”

 

b. Prayer also gives us patience. The word for patience (“hupomone”) means

hopeful endurance.

 

c. Patience isn’t something you will to happen. It is the result of a confident

anticipation that God is in control and has you’re best interests at heart.

 

2. A Power Praying Lifestyle (:26-27)

 

a. Begins with our weakness. You are never asked to pray from strength, but

rather from weakness.

 

b. Acknowledges that we don’t really even know what to pray for! Praying isn’t

telling God what to do. Prayer is crawling up into God’s lap and telling Him what’s

on your heart.

 

c. And the Holy Spirit understands your heart and clarifies that to the Father. That

is exactly what verse 27 says. The Father wants to know what’s on your heart.

And it is the Holy Spirit that is the translator, if you will, to the mind of God.

 

d. That’s why it is so important to have the Holy Spirit have free rein in your life.

 

e. You do that by confessing your sinfulness and asking Holy Spirit to come in and

fill you with His presence.

 

3. We Have Trouble Praying.

 

a. It was Jesus who, while telling his disciples to pray said,

 

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt 26:41)

 

b. It is especially difficult to pray appropriately when things seem to be going wrong.

 

1. It’s easy to start praying at those times, but do we know what to pray for?

 

2. How do you pray in God’s will when your life is in chaos?

 

3.There are some amazing prayers in the Bible by people who were troubled:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a. Jacob in Genesis 32:

 

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’

10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.

11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children.

12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'” (Gen 32:9-12)

 

b. Saul, in I Sam 14, had apparently no prayer life to speak of:

 

35 Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this.

36 Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.” “Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied. But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day. (like God was an 8-Ball)

38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. (assumption)

(1 Sam 14:35-38)

 

c. Jonah wanted the Ninevites destroyed. He hated them. But God sent him to preach to them. And they repented…which really got on Jonah’s nerves. So God spared Ninevah from destruction. And that REALLY ticked off Jonah. And he prayed in Jonah 4:

 

2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade. (he went there to pout)

(Jonah 4:2-5)

 

But the Bible is very clear about Power Praying. It’s not about your

crisis or the chaos in your life.

 

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

 

It’s about your righteousness.

 

Righteousness – “dikaios” – the acts of holiness – the physical activity of

doing God’s will.

 

 

The man or woman who is physically doing God’s will is in touch with God

and their prayers are powerful and effective.

 

So…how do you develop this “Praying Spirit” that the letter to the Romans talks about?

 

 

D. The Praying Spirit

 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Rom 8:26)

 

So…what should we do when we have trouble praying?

 

Let the Spirit pray through us.

 

1. Since the Spirit is the best that God has to offer us, one of the best things that the

Spirit does is to help us pray.

 

a. When we don’t know what to pray for:

 

1. “PERFECT!!!

 

2. The secret to power praying is to be so drained of self that the Spirit

takes over.

 

3. John the Baptizer understood that when he said:

 

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

 

b. The Spirit intercedes for us.

 

1. He steps in on our behalf.

 

2. This is one of the things the Spirit does!!! But we all to often don’t let

Him!!!

 

3. But he knows what is really on our heart, and that’s what He conveys

to God the Father.

 

2. He prays on our behalf!

 

* “groans” – from the word “stenazo” – intense praying with sighs!!!

 

E. The Secret To Power Praying!

 

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Rom 8:27)

 

1. Have a pure heart (“…He who searches our heart…”

 

2. Release our burden to the Spirit (God listens to His Spirit… “He…knows the mind of the Spirit…” )

 

3. The Spirit prays IN the will of God (“…in accordance with God’s will”)

 

a. The Holy Spirit prays KNOWING God’s will!!!

 

b. The perfect way to pray!!!

 

c. Now, notice what follows this verse:

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

(Rom 8:28)

 

What an exciting reminder that those who pray in the Spirit, pray in the will of God, and have the comfort and confidence of knowing that God is up to ALL good.

Destroy the High Places

I. A HISTORY OF THE HIGH PLACES

 

Throughout history places referred to as “The High Places” have been a critical issue with God. In Leviticus 26, which contains the 5 Cycles of Discipline that a nation goes through if it rejects God, in the 5th Cycle this is one of the things that happens:

 

I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. (Lev 26:30)

 

God gave the Israelites some very specific instructions for when they arrived at the Promised Land. Those instructions included what they were to do with “the high places.”

 

51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan,

52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. (Numbers 33:51-52)

 

And, in fact, they were told specifically how and where to worship.

 

11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name–there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.

12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.

14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. (Deut 12:11-14)

 

But what did the Israelites do?

 

1 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.

2 The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LORD.

3 Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

(1 Kings 3:1-3)

 

33 …Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places.

34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth. (1 Kings 13:33-34)

 

11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done…

14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. (1 Kings 15:11-14)

 

41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.

42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years…

43 In everything he walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed…

(1 Kings 22:41-43)

 

1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba.

2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 The high places, however, were not removed… (2 Kings 12:1-3)

 

1 In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign.

2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin; she was from Jerusalem.

3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash.

4 The high places, however, were not removed… (2 Kings 14:1-4)

 

1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign.

2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem.

3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.

4 The high places, however, were not removed… (2 Kings 15:1-4)

 

32 In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah king of Judah began to reign.

33 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok.

34 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done.

35 The high places, however, were not removed… (2 Kings 15:32-35)

 

6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.

7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt…

9 The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns.

(2 Kings 17:6-9)

 

 

 

 

1 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.

2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.

3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.

4 He removed the high places… (2 Kings 18:1-4)

 

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah.

2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed… (2 Kings 21:1-3)

 

What were and are these “High Places”?

 

 

Archaeological and scientific researches have revealed that in many different religions around the world, places up on hill tops and mountains were used for worship…usually to idols. In Mesopotamia, where the land is flat, they built artificial mountains in the shape of step pyramids called ZIGGURATS. The TOWER OF BABEL (Gen 11:1-9) was probably such a ziggurat. They were generally surrounded by brightly colored tapestries; sometimes there was a tent; and usually the components for sacrificial offerings.

 

The Israelites also gave in to this practice. The priests whom the kings of Judah ordained to burn incense in the high places were called Chemarim; often times young boys dressed in black. The Hebrew term for the high places is Bamah or Bamoth. These places were so common that the term came to used for any shrine.

 

28 When I brought them into the land I had sworn to give them and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices, made offerings that provoked me to anger, presented their fragrant incense and poured out their drink offerings.

29 Then I said to them: What is this high place you go to?'” (It is called Bamah to this day.)

(Ezek 20:28-29)

 

The High Places are so out of bounds spiritually that they can, in fact, become demonic. Remember when Jesus was about to begin His ministry, and He went into the desert to fast and pray, and the devil came to Him to tempt Him away from His calling? Look at one of the things the Devil did:

 

5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.

6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. (Luke 4:5-6)

 

It was as if the Devil was saying, “I have controlled man because he has refused to do it Your way, and chose the High Places instead of obeying You. Now, I have authority over man.”

 

So, the “High Places” represent man’s substitution for God’s ways; those areas in your life where you violate God’s standard, and you choose to disobey God, and do things your way instead of His.

 

King Saul was terribly guilty of that. In 1 Sam 15 we read the story of how he wanted to worship and offer a sacrifice, but he didn’t want to wait for the prophet Sammuel, so he went up to Mt. Carmel, and built his own altar, offered his own sacrifice, and did it all his way, instead being obedient to the Lord. When Sammuel found out, this is what he told King Saul:

 

22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

(1 Sam 15:22-23)

 

And that was the turning point of Saul’s kingship. Soon after, Samuel anointed David as king.

 

There is a price to pay for the High Places in your life!

 

II. THE DANGER OF HIGH PLACES

 

A. High Places Break Fellowship With God

 

56 But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes.

57 Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow.

58 They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.

59 When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely.

(Ps 78:56-59)

 

B. High Places Are Self-Defeating

 

When Moab appears at her high place, she only wears herself out; when she goes to her

shrine to pray, it is to no avail. (Isa 16:12)

 

C. High Places Bring Destruction

 

3 Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth.

4 The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.

5 All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the house of Israel. What is Jacob’s transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem?

6 “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations. (Micah 1:3-6)

 

 

III. DESTROY THE HIGH PLACES

 

4 He [Hezekiah] removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.

6 He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. (2 Kings 18:4-7)

 

A. Remove The Things That Lead You To Disobey God.

 

B. Put Your Complete Trust In God.

 

C. Intentionally Obey God.

 

1. Seek out the areas of disobedience in your life

 

2. Determine that you are following God in all areas of your life

 

3. Know the Word of God

 

D. Enjoy The Presence Of God.

 

E. Discover The Success Of God.

 

1. Success is always identified by the meeting needs.

 

This is a major key to success. I call it the Principle of Need.

 

It is fundamental to the way God operates. He seeks to meet needs. Everything God does is centered around meeting needs.

 

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious

riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

 

Check it out. I challenge you to find one example in the Bible where God wasn’t trying to meet some need. Simply put, this is the way God works. He is in the business of meeting needs.

 

Therefore, it just makes sense to embrace this key principle for success. Success is always focused on meeting needs.

 

2. Success is an act of God.

 

The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the

house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD

was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he

did… (Gen 39:2-3)

 

The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because

the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

(Gen 39:23)

 

The individual who is truly successful understands that his success is not because of anything that he has done but rather what God has done. It’s all God. Therefore the focus, the glory, and the honor all go to God, not the individual.

 

3. Success is the result of the presence of God.

 

Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but

had left Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him. (1 Sam 18:12-14)

 

The very nature of God is success. Anything that God touches is naturally successful – by His standards. So wherever God is, success reigns.

 

One who enjoys and lives in the presence of God will also know the success that God’s nature produces.

 

See, success is not about what you do. It’s about what God does.

 

4. Success is the result of God fulfilling His promises.

 

When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he

promised concerning him and has appointed him leader over

Israel, my master will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the LORD has brought my master success, remember your servant.(1 Sam 25:30-31)

 

This is an exciting realization. God has promised success to his children. The promise is reaffirmed in Galatians:

 

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:29)

 

You are an heir to all that God has to offer.

 

5. Success is the result of obedience to God.

 

Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have

success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and

understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that

you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws

that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and

courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. (1 Chr 22:11-13)

 

 

 

This seems like such a simple principle but it is a critical one.

 

Obedience opens the doors for God’s blessing. However, disobedience closes the doors to God’s blessing. God simply will not bless those who are disobedient to Him. That’s true for individuals, for families, for businesses, even for churches.

 

It’s not that God doesn’t want to. It’s just that He won’t. He’s not going to bless or condone disobedience, or any other sin.

 

6. Success is an act of faith.

 

By its Greek definition and concept Faith is trusting obedience to the known will of God.

 

Faith is simply acting on what you know is what God wants.

 

Faith can’t manipulate or will success. It can’t. It’s not about that. Remember, success is something God does, not about what you do.

 

Notice the importance of this in the words of Jehoshaphat,

 

Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set

out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful. (2 Chr 20:20)

 

This is a fascinating statement. The instruction is very clear: Faith in God leads to success. Once we understand this simple, yet dynamic, truth, we can begin to understand how success is an act of faith – trusting obedience to the known will of God.

 

7. Success is the result of right priorities.

 

Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he

reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jecoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.

(2 Chr 26:3-5)

 

Notice Uzziah’s priorities: 1) To do what was Godly right, which he learned from his father; 2) He sought to know God; and, 3) He received spiritual instruction from God’s messenger. The result was God-given success.

 

8. Success always glorifies God.

 

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.

(Psalm 20:1-5)

 

There is an interesting correlation in the Bible between true success and Godly worship. Success is the result of focus on God, not on the activity or event in which one desires success.

 

9. God’s plan for your success can be found in the Word of God.

 

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his

servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

 

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it

day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

 

The purpose of God’s Word is to reveal God. But in the process of revealing the nature of God, His word gives us some practical, applicable truths that should be applied to our lives. Such truths will change us eternally. One of those significant truths is that God wants you to be successful and has designed your life for success.

 

Not only does He state that He intends for you to be successful, He gives you insight to how He desires you to succeed. As we’ve already seen, obedience to God is a pre-requisite for success. This verse makes that clear. But along with that pre-requisite is a promise from God that total obedience to God will produce success.

 

So, what is the definition of success? Success is the result of accomplishing God’s plans for one’s life.

 

And such success can only be discovered when you remove the High Places in your life.