Monday, April 16, 2007


Prayer Opens Doors and Opens Hearts Col 4:2

Colossians 4:2-6. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
In 1886, John R. Mott was in sitting in a crowd gathered in Northfield, Massachusetts when the Holy Spirit electrified him for the lost through the preaching of D. L. Moody. Moody called for 100 men to step forward for missions. John Mott left his seat to stand forth.
As God refined this call on Mott’s life, it became clear that the mission field for him would be college campuses. For the rest of his life, John Mott devoted himself to the salvation and spiritual growth of college students. Simultaneous to this, he passionately worked toward the unifying of various denominations for the sake of advancing the Gospel globally. God granted John Mott amazing inroads internationally. Governments and religious leaders around the world were influenced toward cooperation, and because of this, John Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 1946.
For all his achievements, Mott was bold to make one thing clear. These are his words: “More important than the most earnest thinking about a problem, more important than a personal interview to influence an individual, more important than addressing and swaying an audience—far more important than these and all other forms of activity is the act of coming into vital communion with God. It is indeed true that he that saveth his time for prayer shall lose it. And he that loseth his time for communion with God shall find it again in added blessing and power and fruitfulness.” John Mott not only believed prayer was a weapon in the hands of the saints, he acted on that belief.
Graham Scroggie, who had the unenviable task of being a pastor and preacher in England during that nation’s hardening against Christianity, once said, “One of the greatest mistakes that a Christian can make is to imagine that increased social or spiritual activity can be any compensation for the lack of…communion with God. There’s time for business, time for pleasure, time for social and Christian service, but no time for that exercise which would give to all these, and other things, power and effect. The simple fact is, we must find time for prayer or we shall perish.”
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah—for which I am in prison— 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. 13 For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis.
Right now, the Gospel is sweeping the globe at a rate that is unimaginable. Avery Willis, the VP of the 5000 strong IMB, has reported that statistically, most of the people who have ever been saved in history were saved during the 20th Century. Willis suggested as high as 70% of the total number of people who have been saved throughout world history have come to Christ in the last hundred years.
But get this: 70% of that number has been saved since 1945! Let me boggle your mind with one other layer of observation from this world missions expert: 70% of those saved since 1945 were saved since 1990! That’s how fast the Gospel is storming our world. That means that at the turn of the 21st Century, possibly one-third of all Christians who have ever lived have been converted since 1990!
What does that look like? In Nepal, just 2000 Christians were known in 1990; ten years later that number had grown to half a million. Cambodia claimed only 600 believers in 1990; there is a reported 60,000 today. In Korea during the 20th Century, the country advanced from being 2% Christian to about 40% Christian today. East Africa is experiencing one of the greatest movements of God in history. In Uganda alone, HIV/AIDS once claimed the lives of one-third of the population. The World Health Organization predicted the complete collapse of the Ugandan economy by the year 2000.
But revival has come to that country. With the salvation of many has come a transformation in morals, so that AIDS is down to 5%. So great is this revival that one church alone went from 7 in attendance to an average of 2000 in just two weeks! Currently, that same church as a membership of 22,000 and has planted 150 other churches.
In almost every quarter of the globe, Christianity is advancing…except for four primary areas: North America, Japan, Australia, and Western Europe. Guess what one of the common denominators is everywhere Christianity marches forward? Christians spend time in prayer together. Track what God is doing in Korea, in China, in India, in Eastern Africa, and you will find behind the scenes prayer meetings.
I can’t imagine living without it. Can you imagine how things would be if Jesus said.. OK Here’s what I want you to do. Give your life. Spread the news of grace and forgiveness. Change the world! And by the way… you are on your own. I have great plans… but I am fresh out of POWER.
Some of say, No problem. We can pretend…. That’s what we do… God says of one early congregation… “You have all the forms right … but you don’t have the power!”
Let me tell you about a lady in South Florida, who learned to live without electrical power…
When a hurricane hit South Florida, Norena's home was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena has been living without power ever since.
The astounding part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina, but Andrew. Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Norena has been living in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90's and the humidity clung to 100 percent. Not one hot shower.
Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors didn't seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor Kent Crook to return power to the house. CBS News says Norena plans to let the water get really hot, and then take her first bubble bath in a decade and a half. "It's hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on," she said. "It's overwhelming."
As tragic as that may seems, it is even more tragic to think about the people – perhaps in this very auditorium this morning – who settle for the same powerless kind of living when it comes to how they live from day to day. Powerless on the interior
Objects: An electric power strip with multiple outlets (the kind that computers and appliances are plugged into). One or two appliances and a light.
Experience: Hold up the power strip for everyone to see and say: "You have all seen one of these. We use power strips to plug computers or appliances into." Then plug one or two appliances and lights into the strip. Finally, plug the power strip into itself and attempt to turn on the lights and appliances. When they don't turn on, ask, "Why won't this work?"
"Well, obviously it won't work because the power strip doesn't have any electrical power in itself. It has to plug into an electrical outlet in order to bring any power to the other appliances." Then, unplug the power strip from itself and into a wall outlet so that the appliances and lights turn on.
1. Prayer involves Dedication to the task
"devote" - to be strong toward - (present tense - continually) Men ought always to pray. Devotion Intensity Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.
Drive by prayers? No Watch and pray
Amy’s car, has been a worry. One day it wouldn’t start. Took it to auto electrician at Charlestown, it stopped on way up the hill! Finally got there, bought a new battery and brought it back to the car. Got vcar to auto electrician and found out it wasn’t the battery. It was the connection. The wires that connected the battery to the car, both looked like they were connected but the positive terminal was loose – I could move it from back and forth with my hand. He cleaned the contacts, tightened it up good and tight. …. And never had another problem. Without a good connection were going nowhere.
The auto electrician was happy. Amy was happy, but my wallet wasn’t. I had bought a new battery when I didn’t need one.
The sustaining and transforming power of God is more than enough for anything you will ever need. The only question is: do you have a good tight connection?
7 days without prayer makes one weak!
2. Prayer involves Discipline
"keeping alert in it" - word means "to stay awake" - to be spiritually alert.
Sensitivity, be alert in prayer. Watching
Don’t become blasé about people. Care for people
Pray for people each day. Everybody has a hole in the heart.
All of their lives getting and doing being and then nothing.
We need to break up fallow ground through prayer before proclamation.
- it is easy to "fall asleep" spiritually - cf. Matt. 26:36-46 - Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. 44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go! See—My betrayer is near.”
Two things emphasized in Matt. 26:41:
a. The Purpose of discipline "that you may not enter into temptation"
b. The Problem in discipline "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"

3. Prayer involves Delight in what God is doing and allowing "in thanksgiving"
Thanksgiving in prayer is our way of saying thank you for answering prayers in the past.
It’s a marker of how God has worked in past days that shows us the future days.
Paul in a great storm on way to Rome, acts 27:35 After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 They all became encouraged and took food themselves. 37 In all there were 276 of us on the ship.
4. Prayer Involves What God is Doing
(twice - "in order that") Pray For An Open Door
Colossians 4:3 - “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
Acts 14:27 - “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
1 Corinthians 16:9 - “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
How do we put ourselves into a position to experience Christ’s “open door?”
Open doors come from Jesus, not us (Revelation 3:7). “The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens
Jesus says about Himself, “I am the True One.”
Jesus says about Himself, “I have the authority.”
If the door to reaching people is to be open for us, it will take Jesus Christ to open it.
God is the one Who "opens" doors! - None of us have the ability or the techniques to do this!
That's why we need prayer! Only God can do it!
70% became Christians because someone personally invited them to become a Christian.
We are so afraid of saying the wrong thing we say nothing.
Easier to be a teaser use bait, rather than be a closer. To close the deal.
Pray For Open Hearts
Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.
1 Tim 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Pray For An Open Mouth
For clear speech. Most don’t now how to help others become Christians.
In Colossians 4:12 the apostle Paul describes Epaphras as "a servant of Christ Jesus". He is mentioned only three times in the New Testament – in Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12-13 and Philemon 23. He was a native of Colosse and a zealous worker for the Lord; through his ministry many of his fellow-countrymen had been converted, and thus the church at Colosse had been founded. In this church, as well as in the assemblies at Laodicea and Hierapolis, Epaphras exercised a pastoral and a teaching ministry (Colossians 4:12-13).
EPAPHRAS WAS A BELOVED FELLOW-WORKER In Colossians 1:7 the apostle describes Epaphras as his "dear fellow-servant". There was a special reason for referring to him in this way. At the time this epistle was written Epaphras was with Paul in prison, and he had visited Paul to seek his advice and counsel concerning errors which were creeping into the church at Colosse. But he did not only seek help, for without doubt he gave much help to Paul, comforting him and ministering to him in a number of different ways. What a great privilege it was for Epaphras to minister to God's honoured, suffering apostle, and how natural that Paul should feel a deep affection for Epaphras!
EPAPHRAS WAS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST He was undoubtedly a successful servant of the Lord – but Paul emphasises that he was "a faithful minister of Christ" (Colossians 1:7). Can there be a greater commendation than this?
Colossians 4:12 tells us this. We should all be men and women of prayer, though some may be specially called to a ministry of prayer, as Epaphras evidently was. Notice the three characteristics of Epaphras' praying:-
It was PERSISTENT prayer – "always…" Is not this where we so frequently fail? We give up, instead of holding on.
It was AGONISING prayer – "wrestling…" or, quite literally, "striving in an agony…" Here is the idea of intensity in prayer Acts 20:31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears.
It was INTELLIGENT prayer – "that you may stand firm, in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." What need there is for such Spirit-taught praying –Romans 8:26In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings

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