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Faith God's Will and Prayer January 21 07

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Faith, God’s Will, and Prayer

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Introduction: Last week we looked at several passages in the Old Testament, we talked about Inquiring of the Lord—seeking guidance and Direction from God.  The Lord desires to be a part of every aspect of our lives—not just our Sundays, Tuesdays, and other church days—the Lord wants to be a part of every decision—every step forward—every step backward.  We can and we must inquire of the Lord—and He WILL give us guidance in any situation, crisis, or turmoil time that we may find ourselves—He will give direction to our path.  One passage in the Psalm 32 says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." (Psalm 32:8, NKJV) The word guide used in this passage means to advise or to give counsel.  God is watching over us, he wants to give us advice and counsel—it is incumbent upon us then that we inquire of the Lord.  James makes this inquiring of the Lord very clear—Look with me for a moment in James 1- verse 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach,( God is not going to literally throw it back in your face) and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV).  We must believe and trust God when we ask him for guidance and direction.

This morning we will go to two New Testament passages that continue our study of prayer.  In both of these passages we will again see two common principles that always connect with biblical prayer—faith and God’s will.  Go with me please to the first passage in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 21—At the beginning of chapter 21 Jesus comes into Jerusalem midst the shouts of Hosanna, blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord. He is received as the son of David—the crowd recognizes him as a prophet. He goes to the temple drives out the money changes, turns over their tables "And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”" (Matthew 21:13, NKJV).  The next morning as he returns to Jerusalem, he is hungry and goes to a fig tree to find figs to eat.  The tree has no figs—but in fact gave the appearance that it did.  He curses the tree and over a 24 period (Mark’s version fills in for us) it withers and dies.  Look with me at the passage in verse 18, “In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith (the trust, belief that God is absolutely in charge of every aspect of a believer’s life—and that God rewards faithfulness) and do not doubt (the word indicates to be divided in mind, to waiver), you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”” (Matthew 21:18-22, ESV). 

Principle number one: faith without doubt—I will trust and believe God above and beyond any circumstance, or situation—because I understand that all circumstances, situations, and relationships in my life happen to so that I might continued to be shaped in the image of Jesus—the highest good and the highest goal in my life is to become like Jesus—that in every situation, circumstance and relationship God will produce in me a fruitfulness that cannot come any other way.  The Holy Spirit must produce fruit in me so that I can be productive for the kingdom.  The temple no longer represented a place where God’s people could go to seek God.  The fig tree had the appearance of a fruitful tree—but it was not. 

Prayer for us has everything to do with faithfulness and fruitfulness. 

There can be no high talk—Low walk.   All fruitlessness in our lives and in the lives of other believers must be rutted out, destroyed and replaced with fruitfulness. We have no value to the productiveness of the kingdom when we remain unfruitful and unproductive to what God is doing.  Faith has to mean that we constantly desire for God to change us—to remove those aspects of our life that hinder fruitfulness and faithfulness.

          Principle number two—our prayer must center on God’s will—not our will.  Look at the second passage of Scripture from 1 John chapter 5,  "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15, ESV).  We must pray in agreement with God. His desire is to see His kingdom Come and His will be done in each and every person that we meet, hang out with, have association with, work with, build relationship with—He wants nothing less that to bring them into the kingdom—if they are in the kingdom (are already believers) he want for them to be faithful and fruitful so that the kingdom of God expands.

          Thought filled prayer—faith filled prayer—prayer that absolutely knows that God hears and answers—is kingdom advancing and expanding prayer.  The results of all answered prayer for a believer should be removing everything that is unproductive, and seeing the Holy Spirit produce fruit in our life and in the lives of others.

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