RS: We have been considering the issue of prayer, and we have been looking at, Tim Keller calls them, the rules of prayer, I call them the principles of prayer. You can use whichever one you want, but where we’ve been so far is we’ve spent a good bit of time talking about the importance of approaching God with humility. We’ve talked at length about what does it mean to humble yourself before God, and you see that in both the Old and the New Testaments, the importance and the significance, and just how God feels about those who humble themselves before Him. So, that was really the first principle. The second, that we didn’t really spend a lot of time on, was praying with the right motive. You know, in James it talks about, you have not because you ask not, and when you ask, the problem is, you ask with the wrong motives. And so, we looked at that as well. This morning we’re going to look at two other principles. This fourth one, I think, may be the most important. But the third one, though, it’s kind of, I think it’s important, because Jesus gives us two little short parables on it, the same principle, which we’re going to look at real quickly, then we’re going to turn to the fourth. I tell you what, just for time’s sake, how about the guys on this side of the room here look up Luke 11:5-8 and then you three over here, look up Luke 18:1-5. So that’s Luke 11:5-8, and Luke 18:1-5. Everybody ready? Charlie DeBardeleben, how about reading Luke 11:5-8.
Charlie: ” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is a friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.”
RS: Some translations say, instead of impudence, his persistence. Tom Wall, you want to read 18:1-5.
Tom: “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent. For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.”
RS: Don’t you love that? Wear me out! You ever had a salesman that kind of wears you out, and finally you just say, yeah, I’ll buy it, yeah, I’m in. What is this about? What are these two parables about? What is Jesus trying to teach us about prayer?
RS: The importance of persistence in our prayer life. In 18:1, it says we should not lose heart and give up, and in Luke 11:8, it says, I tell you though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, the NIV says because of his boldness, he will get up and respond. And then again, I just have to smile when it says, this woman is going to wear me out, unless I do this, and that word “wear me out” comes from a boxing term which means from repeated blows, blow after blow after blow. Though Jesus gives us no real explanation. It does appear that persistence is important for several reasons, one being that it indicates the priority of the heart. Now how serious is this issue that we’re praying over. It shows, I think, a real intent and purpose. Author Jerry Sitzer talks about persistence through the eyes of a parent, in reference to this parable. He says, you know, “my kids have asked me for many things over the years. A smartphone, boat, bicycle, car, exotic vacations, you name it, my kids have asked for it. But, I ignore them most of the time. I am as hard-hearted as they come. A parent made of granite. But my ears do begin to perk up when they persist, because persistence usually says they are very serious about something.”
This really happened in my own life. Growing up, I never was really much of a dog person, I just didn’t really like dogs that much, we had dogs over the years, but I just never, we never really had a great dog, and my wife, the only dog she ever had, she ran over as a teenager. So, we weren’t that excited about getting a dog. But my 19 year old, Dixon, this was 10 years ago when he was 9, in the summer says, Dad, for Christmas, I wasn’t a dog. I said, well, we’ll think about it, and thinking, this will pass, because like this guy says, they ask for things, they come and go, so well, September rolls around, and he says, dad my birthday is a week before Christmas, so for my birthday and for Christmas both, I want a dog, I want a golden retriever. That was the first time, he normally wouldn’t come back and ask for things again, because he’s always asking for stuff, still does, and he kept asking, and kept asking, until we got to the point that we realized this is what he really wants, this is his heart’s desire, he wants a dog. He wants his own dog, and so, you know, I finally kind of gave in. I didn’t really want a dog. That’s what we got him for his birthday, is this golden retriever. Now, here we are, 10 years later, and guess what? I love the dog more than anybody. My wife and I do all the caring for the dog. He and I had a conversation before I left this morning, he was lying there, and I just rubbed on him, and he’s the only one, when I come in the door, he’s there wagging his tail, nobody else is there. So, it’s been a good thing.
But the fact of the matter is, I think it’s important that we persist in our prayers. And, as we get through this, I think you’ll kind of see more what this is all about. But, as I share this, it struck me, you really have to keep all these principles in line with each other when you pray, to have an effective prayer life. For instance, you may pray consistently in great perseverance that your profits would double or that your sales would double, and yet, when it gets right down to it, your real motive is greed. Just unadulterated greed. You’re praying with the wrong motive. I do think you should be praying about your business which we’ll come back to, and say, what should we properly be praying. But then on the other hand think about it in these terms . Think about the example I gave a couple of weeks ago of the man whose marriage was on the rocks, he had cheated on his wife, yet, he was contrite, he was broken over it, and his wife realized, I do still love him, and she just told me, she said, I can’t forgive him. We can’t go forward, I just can’t forgive him. I said, then you need to start praying and asking God to give you strength, and the power, and the grace to be able to truly forgive your husband, and guess what? Over time, as she prayed diligently, she was able to forgive him, and their marriage was restored, and that’s happened in my own life. There have been times where, I can think of one in particular, where there was a family member, it wasn’t a friend, it was a family member, that I had a real problem with. I had a real problem loving him. In fact, when it got right down to it, I just didn’t like him. Yet, they’re a family member, and I felt like God really wanted to change something in my relationship with this person, and so I really began to pray, God give me a love for this person. And, over time, God has transformed my relationship with this person. They still aggravate me sometimes, but there is a love there that was not there before. So, I think as we are talking about prayer, and as we line these things up, what I was praying for, in loving this person, was right in the center of God’s will, I think that’s what God desired. And so, praying diligently, praying with the right motive, praying with humility, I think is significant as we consider having an effective prayer life. Any comments on this? Anything I’ve just said? You know, I think, over time, somebody said this, I think it was Craig Blumberg, on his commentary on the parables, he says, over time, “we will mature in our prayer life, and develop a greater understanding in what to bring before God as we pray.” What you’re going to find, guys, is that prayer is not just about asking God for things. In fact, a major part of your prayer life is not asking, and that’s why it’s again, this is a relationship with God. Think about your relationship with your wife. You’re not always asking your wife for things, I mean, ya’ll have a relationship. And, as we go through this, we will see there is so much we need to be bringing before Him. But, with that being said, let’s look at the fourth and final principle, because I think it’s the most important. My opinion only. Turn to the book of James, chapter 1. And we’re going to read verses 5, 6, and 7. Ham, how about reading those, verses 5, 6, and 7.
Ham: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a doubleminded man, unstable in all he does.”
RS: Here James is talking about asking God for wisdom, and God desires to give us wisdom. But he says like there is a condition, as you pray for wisdom, there is a condition, what is that condition?
Unidentified audience member: Can’t doubt.
RS: Yes. Pray with faith. This is about really having, when you pray, pray with faith; when you say that, it means to pray with an expectant heart. That’s what he said. Pray with an expectant heart, expecting God to move. Several years ago, I heard a pastor share a great story, talk about having an expectant heart. He read this from the journal of a missionary, and this missionary had gone, and I don’t know which country, overseas, and had established a mission in this community, it was primarily an agrarian community, a lot of uneducated people, but this guy’s ministry really was fruitful and a lot of people came to Christ, and they set up this church, and, at some point, along the way, they ran into this incredible drought, and they had gone for months and they had no rain, and it was basically ruining their crops. And so, one of the farmers in the congregation approached the minister, and said, don’t you think we should have a prayer meeting and pray for rain. And I think the missionary minister was kind of taken aback, well, you know, well, I guess we probably should. So, he announced Sunday night after church, this Wednesday night we’re going to meet at 6:00 and we’re going to pray for rain, and I think he said it a little reluctantly. And they all bought in, and so Wednesday night rolls around, and he shows up, and the entire congregation is there. And he looks at them, and they all have their raingear with them. They all have their raincoats. And he says, what are you guys doing? They said, aren’t we praying for rain. And he said, they went into the church and they prayed for hours, they prayed for several hours for rain. And, all of a sudden, the heavens opened up, and a downpour, and the missionary said, you know, because of my lack of faith, I'[m surprised that God did this, but because of the congregation, because of their expectant hearts, they brought their raingear, they were expecting it to rain, that he was convinced that God blessed that community with rain. So, when you pray with faith, yo pray with expectant hearts. There is a great example of this in the Gospels, in Matthew. So, if you would, turn to Matthew 8. Anybody have a comment, question?
Unidentified audience member: Richard, you may get into this, but we’re looking at humility, right motive, persistence, obviously expectant heart, but also there’s the thanksgiving and love involved.
RS: When we get through the principles, that will be one of the first things we talk about. I think that’s, to me, just my opinion, that’s the heart of prayer. Are we at Matthew 8? Donnie, how about reading 5 though 10, then read verse 13, just skip on down and read verse 13.
Donnie: ” When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “ Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, and in terrible suffering.”Jesus said to him, I will go and heal him. The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. When Jesus heard this, He was astonished and said to those following him, I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. ….Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go, it will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed just at that very hour.”
RS: This is a great incident, I think. The centurion recognized that Jesus had power and authority. Notice he didn’t say come to my house, come lay hands on the servant, he just says, I realize you are a man under authority just as I am, and if you say it will be done, it will be done. And what you see is a great picture of a person extending confidence in Jesus and you see the expectant heart that he had. And what I find interesting, it said that Jesus was astonished, in the NIV that Donnie read, it says that he was astonished, other translations says Jesus marveled at this man’s faith. And, if you think about it guys, Jesus didn’t marvel at pretty much anything. He never was impressed with much of anything; I mean He was impressed with the widow’s mite, remember the widow that puts in everything she has. If you think about it, Jesus kind of complained about their lack of faith. He said, “You men of little faith.” So this was a big deal. As you see this Roman soldier extend and put confidence in Christ having that expectant heart. What I want to do in the balance of our time guys, is to explore this issue of faith, because, what I find, is that this is a problem. This is a struggle, and what you’re going to see is that faith is something that has to be learned. Faith is something you have to develop in your life. Someone once put it this way, Faith is like a muscle and if you’re going to strengthen it, you have to exercise it. And so, I want to give you, I hope when you leave today, you’ll have a good understanding of what faith is, and how to build it. And that’s what really this series is going to be about. With that, I want everybody to turn to II Corinthians chapter 5. We’re going to look at one quick little verse, then we’re going to look at some scripture that I think is a real building block in what we’re trying to learn here. II Corinthians chapter 5. Before we read in Corinthians, there’s two verses in I Peter that I want to read to you. This is I Peter, chapter 1, verses 6 and 7. It says, ” In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have been stressed by various trials.” Now listen to this, “The proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And I wanted to read this because it’s really saying there, the incredible value of being a man of faith, and how our faith is more precious than gold which is perishable, he says. I have a man who has had a huge impact on my life. A very wise, Godly man, he’s probably 70 years old now. And he once said to me, he said, Richard, you know, I really believe that God would like to see more than anything else in His children, is that they really learn to walk by faith. He thinks, he really believes the most important thing you can have is a strong faith. As you think about your own children, there are certain things that you desire for them. I tell my children that my desire is that they would be people of Godly character, that they would have great wisdom, that they would first and foremost, know the Lord. And the reason I desire that so much for them is that I realize the great benefit that is to their lives as they move into adulthood. And I think what this guy is saying is that as God looks at us, there is so much He would like to bless us with, but the most important thing that He thinks God would desire for us is that we would be men of strong faith. And yet, I think this is a struggle that we have, and the reason is that we realy don’t know how do you build that. How do you truly learn to be a person of faith. As we get into that, we’re going to look at several verses in II Corinthians, but I think this idea of our faith being so important is found in II Corinthians chapter 5, verse 7. Ben, you want to read that, II Corinthians 5:7.
Ben: “We live by faith, not by sight.”
RS: That’s it. Some translations say, we walk by faith, and not by sight. This is what makes faith so difficult, guys, is that we grow up, and we live by sight. It’s natural, I mean, you’ve got to live by sight. We live in a physical visible world, and so, when things come into your life, you react. What he’s saying, is we need to learn, particularly as circumstances enter into our life, we need to learn to basically see them through the lens of God’s truth. In other words, you run into a negative circumstance. Instead of just panicking over it, and saying, I want this out, a man of faith steps back and says, God how are You using this in my life? See them through different eyes, yet, it’s hard because you grow up learning to live by sight. And so, to kind of transition to learning to walk by faith, again, it’s something that has to be learned. Now, if you turn back to II Corinthians chapter 1, we’re going to read several different verses, guys, that I think is kind of the foundation of all of this. I think this is very important, very foundational, is II Corinthians chapter 1, verses 8, 9, and 10. Dennis, you want to read those for us? These are some of my favorite scriptures.
Dennis: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we f elt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.”
RS: Alright, ya’ll got a picture of what was happening here. Of course, Paul, this was pretty consistent for him. He was always facing death. Everybody wanted to kill him. He’s saying, as he writes this letter to Corinth, the church at Corinth, he’s saying, I’ve just been through a situation where we despaired, we thought we were dead. He says, but, you know what, God delivered us, and He was trying to teach us something. What does it says He was trying to teach us? Let’s take a second and go back and look at that. What was He trying to teach us?
Unidentified audience member: He have hope in God.
RS: That we have hope in God, that basically we rely on Him and not ourselves. Because that is our tendency to rely on ourselves and never look to Him. But this is crucial guys. What is the basis of their trust? They are putting their trust not just in any God, but who are they putting their trust in?
Unidentified audience member: The God who raises the dead.
RS: The God who raises the dead. Do you realize how significant the resurrection really is? We basically put our trust and our faith in the God who raises the dead. You see, we have a foundation to put our faith in. We have good reason to trust him. Why? Because He raises the dead. And He tells us, John 11:25, I am the resurrection, and the life. If you put your faith in me, and you put your trust in me, he says, you will live even when you die. This is why Paul then goes on and says, It’s on Him who I set my hope. Who is Him? The God who raises the dead. Now, that word hope is an important word. And the only problem with hope is the English word that we use and the Greek word that is actually used are almost like two separate words. Listen to the word hope as it is recorded in Webster’s dictionary, and ask yourself is this what I am looking for. Is this the Biblical hope that I’m looking for? Is this the kind of hope I’m looking for? Webster says, hope is a desire of something good. So far, so good. The desire for something good. Listen to this: with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it. Is that what we’re looking for? Now, the Greek word for hope is Elpizo. E-L-P-I-Z-O. And it means to expect with certainty. Tim Keller gives a great definition of hope. He says Biblical hope is a life-shaping certainty of something that has not yet happened but that we know one day will. And that’s why, I don’t know if we have a chance to get to it today, but that’s why a part of faith, and a part of hope is you’ve got to wait for God sometimes. A life-shaping certainty, it hasn’t happened yet, but you know one day will. That’s why you do see so often you have to wait for the Lord. Now, in the Bible, the only definition, the only time we get a definition of faith is in the book of Hebrews, and you may or may not be familiar with this verse, but the whole chapter 11 of Hebrews is on the triumph of faith; it’s about people of faith. And he starts off the chapter; I’m going to read to you three translations just so you’ll get it, but you’ll see that hope is an important word. It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” That’s the New American. Listen to the NIV. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.” But the Amplified, particularly that second part, says, “Faith is perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.” Now guys, Jesus, He dies, He rises, He meets with the disciples, on a number of occasions, then He’s gone for good, and He tells us, He tells us very clearly, that, in the future, God’s people will live by Faith. Because, if you think about it, the disciples had a pretty good deal. They got to see Jesus, they got to hear Him. I think they were probably all there when they raised Lazarus from the dead. I mean, that would have been something to see. They saw Him taken. Most of them fled, they didn’t necessarily see Him die, but the women did, a lot of the people saw him die, that was it, that Jesus had died, and they saw the resurrected Jesus, they saw Him leave, they saw Him rise. They got to see a lot that we haven’t seen. And Jesus tells us, that’s the way it’s going to be. Turn to John 20. And while we’re turning, anybody have a comment or question?
Charlie: Richard, the tough thing is when you have faith, and God’s not answering those prayers, or again, something bad happens, and you’re going, wait a minute, I’m praying for this, and you’re not listening, and I’m impatient and I’ve got to continue this faith that I’ve not seen, but, it’s …
RS: That’s a real problem we have. Are you telling me this, or are you asking me a question?
Charlie: No, it’s just myself, human nature, but you’ve got to continue, you’ve got to keep going, and not just stop and be frustrated.
RS: We’ll get into this, Charlie. This series is probably going to last four or five more weeks, so, it’s, sometimes, when you’re, particularly in a storm in life, you’re not really sure what to pray. And we’ll talk about that too. John 20:26-29. Dave Dresher, you want to read that for us? Jesus has risen from the dead, and by the way, everybody has seen him but Thomas, and remember, Thomas says, the doubting Thomas says, I ain’t going to believe it until I see the marks on His hands and the piercing in the side. Dave?
Dave: ” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
RS: Who is Jesus talking about when He says blessed are those who have not seen or will not see, and yet believe? Who is He talking about?
RS: Us. He’s talking about people of the faith in the future. He said, you know you guys have seen a lot, and then you believed. Then He used the word, but blessed are those in the future who won’t see and yet believe. Most people say they had a real advantage over us, but maybe not. What do we have that they don’t have.?
Unidentified audience member: The Holy Spirit.
RS: That is true. We’ve got this (holds up Bible); we’ve got the Old and the New Testament, we’ve got the whole story. For so long, the people of God were waiting on a Messiah. They didn’t know what to expect. I was just reading yesterday in Isaiah 9:6. It says a child will be born to you. And the government will rest on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor, almighty God. I mean, we’ve got the whole story, right here, guys. We’re incredibly blessed because of that, and we’re told it’s living and active. It’s God’s revelation. It’s God’s promises to His people. And so this is a key part of our faith is his word which is solid rock. It’s light to us. What does it say, your Word is a light to my path.
Unidentified audience member: Lamp to my feet.
RS: Lamp to my feet and light to my path. This next part is really I think crucial as we explore this a little deeper. Where does God’s Word come into my faith? Let’s turn to Romans chapter 4. Everybody there? 18 through 21. He’s talking about Abraham here. Bryan Shelfer, you want to read for us, Romans 4:18-21.
Bryan: ” Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
RS: Very good. You know, verse 20 gives us an interesting insight into faith. I mean, Abraham, how can you have children when you’re 100. Yet it says, Abraham didn’t waver in belief, why? What was his faith based on?
Unidentified audience member: The promise of God.
RS: The promise of God. God had promised him, I’m going to basically give you a people a nation, you’ll be the father. And so, guys, when it gets right down to it, faith is…. Abraham’s faith and our faith should be based on God’s revelations and God’s promises. What’s revealed to us about Him. You seee, faith, guys, has got to have some type of foundation, otherwise, it is blind faith. Now, I know I’ve shared this illustration a number of times. I’m going to change it up a little bit. I have something in my right hand, and you can’t see it. What do you think it is? Ben, what do you think it is?
Ben: Your keys?
RS: No. What else?
Unidentified audience member: Coins?
RS: No. Coins, lucky coin, no. You want to take a guess.
Unidentified audience member: A pen?
RS: Pen? No. What ya’ll are doing is kind of guessing. You don’t have any foundation on what to base it, what’s in his hand? You’re speculating. That’s what blind faith is, by the way. You have nothing to base it on, you’re guessing on things that likely could be in my pocket. You run into people that have these way out beliefs and you ask them, where did you get that, what is that based on? They say, I just think it sounds good, and a lot of people accuse us of having blind faith, but we don’t. Now, I’m going to tell you, and let me just say this. My goal in life is to always be truthful. I feel like that’s God’s will, speak the truth, even sometimes it’s painful. So, I’m going to tell you the truth that In my right hand, there is a piece of peppermint candy out of this little container right here. You still can’t see it, but Bryan, if I asked you what is in my right hand, what would you say?
Bryan: A piece of peppermint candy.
RS: You can’t see it though, can you? But you believe it. It’s plausible. But why do you really believe it?
Bryan: You said so.
RS: Because I said so. Because I told you. I’ve revealed it to you, but, again you can’t see it, you have faith that that’s what’s there. Now, when I take it out and I show it to you, you don’t need faith any more do you? You have a true knowledge of what’s in my right hand. That’s what we’re told. One day, we won’t have to live by faith. We’ll see God as He really is, and we’ll have a true knowledge of Him, but for now, we live by faith. But it’s not a blind faith; it’s a faith that’s based on what God has revealed to us in the scriptures. Because all legitimate faith, guys, has to have a foundation, and that foundation for us, is God’s revelation in the person of Christ in His revealed Word. And that’s why, in verses that Bryan read in Romans 4, verses 20 and 21 Abraham’s faith was a response to that which God revealed to him in a promise. Let me show you, let me give you an example of what God has given to us. He shared it with the disciples at a very important time, but it’s true for all of us. Turn to John 14. John 14. Now, in John 14, Jesus is giving them some final words and he’s just hours away from being taken, arrested, being flogged, and eventually crucified, so, his time is up. So, let’s read John 14 verses 1, 2, and 3. Beau, you want to read those for us?
Beau: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
RS: Very good, thank you. Jesus is getting ready to leave His disciples, and up in chapter 13, He tells them, and apparently, it’s pretty upsetting to them. Look in chapter 13, verse 33. Little children, I am with you a little while longer, and as I said to the Jews, I’ll also say to you, where I am going, you can’t come. Where I’m going you can’t come. Now, we don’t know this, but I think we can assume what they were thinking. Now, here we are, everything was going great, even though we have a lot of adversaries out there, the Jewish leaders hate us, but they had confidence, you know why? Because Jesus was with them. They had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. They had seen Jesus command the wind to stop. He commands the wind and the waves, and they had this huge following and everything ws going great, and Jesus says, alright I’m here to hand the ball to you guys, I’m here to hand the baton, I’m out of here. And so, you can kind of imagine what they’re thinking, that here is who started this great movement, we’ve got momentum, things are going great, and now, you’re leaving us, and probably feeding us to the wolves, which, in one sense, is what happened, because Judas killed himself, Matthias took his place, and 11 of the 12 died martyrs deaths. I mean, Jesus tells them, tells Peter later, basically, you’re going to be crucified. Basically, you’re going to be crucified and hung upside down. So, they feared for their lives, you have to think, and Jesus calms them down. He says, let not your heart be troubled. He’s telling them basically yes, they will face death in the future. It’s coming, don’t let your heart be troubled. He says, you’ve got to believe in me. What does Jesus want them to believe? I want you to know that in my Father’s house there are many dwelling places, and I go and prepare a place for you and when you come, I’ll be there. And, in one sense, they don’t say this, but it’s kind of like, well, why should we believe what you’re telling us, Jesus? At the crucial point, what does He say? If it were not true, what?
Unidentified audience member: I would have told you.
RS: Yeah. I wouldn’t be telling you this if it were not so. Basically, Jesus is saying, if in fact you die, and you go into eternal nothingness, I would have told you. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. I go and am preparing a place for you and I’m going to be looking for you to come. You see, faith is our responding to divine revelation is extending confidence in what God has said and revealed and promised. You know, I had a rela experience of this recently. Putting your faith in somebody else’s word, I mean, in a major way. My wife and I you know were just on vacation, and we were trying to cross the road on foot, and it wasn’t a highway, but it was a four-lane road, and you had cars going this way and cars going this way. And it was the time of day when there was a lot of traffic, and I’m looking to the left and right, and finally, it’s okay to go, and you look to left and cars are coming. Then I finally said, alright honey, I’m going to look to the right, and you look to the left, and we’ve got to get across the street. Finally, it gets clear, and I said, alright honey, it’s okay now, and she said, start running. Start running. Go, and I’m looking, and I start running, and I’m still looking to the right, and I get out in the middle of the street, and it just hit me, if my wife has it wrong, I’m dead. I’m done, but, I have such trust and belief that she’s not going to do that, and as I’m running, I’m realizing, I’m really putting my faith and my trust in what my wife said. I believed her, because she is trustworthy, she is reliable, she loves me. That’s what faith is.
Now let me share this final thought with you. I really believe that our prayer lives should be centered around the Word of God. In other words, God’s Word should serve as a template for our prayer lives. In fact, this is why for centuries, you don’t see it as much in modern churches, although there are still a lot of denominations you do see this, but over the centuries, the church had a liturgy, and so much of it were prayers. And many of those prayers came right out of the Bible. You know, there are some unbelievable prayers in the Bible that we don’t pay any attention to. Or they also would take scripture and convert it into prayer language. My first thought and idea on this came when Drayton Nabors shared this. My hope, and I’m going to be working on this in July, is that at some point when we finish this series, I’m going to have a little booklet of prayers from the Bible and certain scripture that we can convert into actual prayers. I think you’ll find it to be very helpful, because when it comes to faith, our faith has to have a foundation, and that foundation for us is Jesus and His revealed written word. Any comments or questions? We don’t really have any time to get into it, because you could say it’s a final component of faith is what Charlie brought up a little while ago, and that is the importance of waiting on God. Just because you’re praying for something doesn’t mean you’re going to have instantaneous results. In Psalm 27 verses 13 and 14, listen to this. It says, “I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong, let your heart take courage, and yes, wait for the Lord.” Philip Yancey goes on to say, you know, God doesn’t operate on our timetable and that his response to our prayers doesn’t always come when we would expect. He says, but think about all the people in the Bible who had to wait on God and he goes through and gives all these examples. And that’s something we need to remember, the importance of waiting on God as we do trust Him. .