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#3 Prayer Brings Deliverance

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                    “PRAYER BRINGS DELIVERANCE

                    (A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 11-05-06                       2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Proposition:      When you are going through stuff, don’t hide it from God’s people, your deliverance will come, God helping you through the prayers of His people.

i.    introduction

-     THERE is a common assumption….it was present in the apostle Paul’s day and it is the same for us today…that if you are going through stuff, deep stuff, that there must be something very wrong with you.

*     Maybe it is because you have sinned and God is punishing you?

*     Maybe it is because you have missed God’s will with some decision you made along the way, and God is punishing you.

*     Maybe it is because your faith is not strong enough, and bad things are happening to you.

-     AND the net result of these kinds of attitudes, tragically within the Church towards people going through deep trials, is….

*     Gossip.

*     Syrupy useless sympathy.

*     Rejection.

-     HOW could anyone going through those kinds of trials have anything to contribute…much less be in a position of leadership?

-     THAT was the attitude amongst many of the Corinthian Christians towards the apostle Paul….and in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, characteristic for Paul, he tackles the subject head on.

-     TURN to verse 8 with me please.

ii.   don’t hide your stuff

-     2 CORINTHIANS 1:8,

      “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life….” (2 Corinthians 1:8)

-     IN the verses we studied last Sunday, Paul talked about trials and suffering in general.

-     IN this verse he gets very specific.

-     THERE was an affliction which came to him in Asia.

-     BIBLE scholars disagree somewhat about the nature of this particular suffering….and Paul doesn’t give us the specifics.

-     MY personal feeling is that it is a combination of afflictions on different fronts at the same time.

-     USUALLY, I can handle one battle on one front at a time.

-     WHEN it goes to two….my stress level goes up more than twice.

-     AND when it is three…I begin to feel like I am on overload.

-     REMEMBER, when Paul writes to the Corinthian church in the second epistle, he is possibly in Philippi (Macedonia), having left Ephesus in the middle of an anti-Christian, anti-Paul all out riot.

*     First of all, in every city where Paul planted churches the Jews incited hatred and riots against him….and Ephesus was no different.

      “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews…” (Acts 20:18-19)

*     But Paul was also persecuted by the Greeks in Ephesus because he turned thousands away from the goddess Artemis and to Christ.

*     In Acts 19:28 it says that Ephesus was filled with rage, stirred up by the silversmiths of the city….and almost rioted against Christianity and Paul. He had to be secreted out of town to stop them from killing him.

*     In 1 Corinthians 15:32 Paul is defending his belief in the resurrection, and writes,

      “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32)

*     But persecution was not new to Paul. Why was he now “despairing of life”?

*     Why, in the next verse, does he tell us that “the sentence of death was within him”?

*     Most of the Bible scholars I read on this passage believe that on top of the abuse that Paul suffered from the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus….and while he was on the run from the city…that he contracted some debilitating disease “within him” that almost killed him and slowed him down from that time on.

-     HOW many of you know that when you are down physically….every other trial you are going through gets amplified?

-     SO, on top of the Jews hating him and hunting him down wherever he went, and on top of the Greeks hating him for denouncing their gods, and being on the run all the time….he is now battling a physical illness that almost kills him.

-     THAT is why he uses the phrases, “burdened excessively…beyond our strength” and “despaired of life” in verse 8, and “we had the sentence of death within ourselves” in verse 9.

-     THIS is the lowest Paul ever got in any of his writings….including 2 Timothy, which he wrote right before he was executed in Rome.

-     WHICH is why the first phrase of verse 8 just jumps out at me….

      “…we do not want you to be unaware brethren of our affliction…” (2 Corinthians 1:8a)

-     THE literal translation is, “we do not want you not to know…”

-     WHY?

-     IS Paul looking for sympathy?

-     NO!

-     HE is the one who will write, just a few chapters later,

      “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

-     SO, why does Paul not want them to be ignorant of what he is going through?

1.   He wants to teach them what God is doing in the middle of those trials that take you and me to the end of our strength and resources.

2.   He wants them to know that trials are nothing to be ashamed of.

3.   He wants them to know that when we allow others to know about what we are going through….they will be encouraged when they go through something similar.

4.   He wants them to know that the humbling process that trials take us through is a good thing. The only people that God raises up are the humble.

5.   He wants them to know that in God’s kingdom weakness is the pathway to strength. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

6.   He wants them to know that what you and I are willing to reveal about yourself others can then stand with you and pray about….and that is part of God’s pathway to deliverance.

-     SO, Paul says, “I don’t want you to not know about what I am going through…”

-     WHAT do we learn from this?

-     DON’T hide your stuff from godly people in your life.

 

iii.  your deliverance will come

-     VERSE 9,

      “…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9)

-     IF you are in the middle of debilitating trials right now….regardless of how you got into the mess you are in.

-     EVEN if the situation is so severe that you feel like it will be the end of you, one way or another

-     THAT is where Paul was right before he wrote 2nd Corinthians.

-     TAKE heart! Be encouraged!

-     GOD is at work in you!

-     AND the lesson He is teaching you is to not trust in yourself, but rather in God, who even raises the dead if He needs to.

-     PROVERBS 3:5-6 says,

      “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

-     TOO many times we don’t even think about trusting on and calling on the Lord….until we are at rock bottom and literally have nowhere else to turn.

-     WE all need those lessons of life that teach us not to trust in our personality, our wisdom, our ingenuity,  our experience….but on the God who even raises the dead.

-     I CAN say with the assurance of this passage that if you will turn to the Lord in the middle of your trial, make Him your goal even before making deliverance your goal….God will use your trial to teach you how to trust Him instead of in yourself.

-     AND that in itself will be a great victory in your life!

-     AND speaking of victory, look at verse 10, about the God,

      “…who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,” (2 Corinthians 1:10)

-     THE word translated “deliver” means to rescue, to snatch from danger.

-     AND the God, whom Paul is learning to trust, is the God who…..watch this!

*     Delivered us……past tense.

*     Will deliver us….present tense.

*     Will yet deliver us…future tense and whenever you see the word, hope, in the NT you can be fairly sure it is referring to eternal life.

-     WHEN you learn to trust in God…..especially as you look around you and see others coming through their trials….you can live in the confidence that your deliverance WILL COME!

-     IN spite of what you may feel like today!

-     IN spite of what others may be saying about you!

-     IN spite of what the devil may be whispering in your ear…..YOUR DELIVERANCE WILL COME.

 

iv. god helping you through the prayers of his people

-     ONE last thought from this passage, from verse 11,

      “…and He [God] will yet deliver us 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” (2 Corinthians 1:11)

-     PAUL realizes that given the nature of the battle he is in, and given the nature of his calling to suffer for the Name of Jesus….that there will be times in the future for him when he will need God to deliver him.

-     PAUL doesn’t know it but he is just months away from being imprisoned in Caesarea for about two years and then in Rome.

-     AND he recognizes that one of the ways God delivers is through the prayers of others.

      “God will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers.”

-     THERE is power in prayer.

-     GOD brings about deliverance through prayer.

-     GOD answers prayer.

-     I AM convinced that one of the main reasons that Paul did not want the Christians at Corinth to be ignorant about his trials, was because he knew that their prayers on his behalf would be powerful and effective….in bringing about the will of God in his circumstances.

*     In Romans 15:30-31, Paul writes,

      “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints…” (Romans 15:30-31)

*     In Ephesians 6:18-19, he writes,

      “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…” (Ephesians 6:18-19)

*     In Colossians 4:3,

      “…praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned.”

*     In 2 Thessalonians 3:1,

      “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you…”

-     NOTICE that even as Paul solicits the prayer that God uses to deliver, that the object of the prayers he solicits are kingdom goals and not personal goals.

-     LOOK at verse 2 Corinthians 1:11. Paul’s objective of the prayers on his behalf there are “so that thanks will be given…

*     …by many persons.

*     …on our behalf.

*     …for the favor bestowed on us.

*     …through the prayers of many.

-     THE lesson?

-     SOLICIT the prayers of God’s people “so that thanks will be given…

*     …by many persons.

*     …on your behalf.

*     …for the favor bestowed on you.

*     …through the prayers of many.

v.  conclusion

-     MAY I summarize this message for you from the apostle Paul to those of you in a deep trial?

1.   Don’t hide your stuff from God’s people.

2.   Your deliverance will come!

3.   God helping you through the prayers of His people.

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