The Sovereign Lord; Acts 4:23-31

Main Point: Depend on the Sovereign Lord.

Our goal is fairly simple and wonderful: we want to rest in the sovereignty of God. We want to rest in the sovereignty of God such that we pray to him and he strengthens us. Church, we are summoned each day to depend on the Sovereign Lord.

Last week, from Acts 4:13-22, we learned from the example of Peter and John. We are to be men and women of boldness, sharing the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, for the healing of our neighbors. Opposition and orders must not stop us. Like Peter and John, we must continue seeking to do good so that the people around us praise God.

Today, from Acts 4:23-31, we learn from the example of the church. Just as Peter and John followed the pattern of Jesus, so also the church followed the pattern of Jesus. Their focus was on the Sovereign God who strengthens his people. Our focus must be on the Sovereign God who strengthens his people.

Let’s dig into the Word, Acts 4:23-31

Here we see the church at prayer. John and Peter are released, and they go to their own; to their own people or friends. Here again, is the growing distinction between the people of God being those who depend on Jesus and the unbelieving Jews being outsiders. Jesus defines the people of God, not Judaism. It’s important to note, before we get into their prayer, that prayer is the normal thing Christians do. They gathered up to pray. Remember Acts 2:42 and the marks of the early church, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Praying together is a normal part of the bold and fruitful Christian life. Let’s look at their prayer and follow their example.

Verse 24, check out how they started their prayer, “they lifted up their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.’”

Together, they knew that

I. God is the boss

This word translated as Lord or Sovereign Lord is not a common word for addressing God in prayer. Often, God is addressed as Father or as Lord using the Greek word kurios. Here we have the Greek word despotes. In English, we’ve made the word despot negative, but this was not the case in 1st century Greek writing. The word refers positively to the absolute ruler of a home. A helpful example is found in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house ready for every good work.”

The master of the house is the lord of the house, the absolute ruler and owner of the house. The best English translation is sovereign. So, we affirm that

  • God is sovereign

Now we need to ask what God is sovereign over; what are the limits of God’s great house? Thankfully, Acts 4:24 defines the limits of God’s sovereignty, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” God is the absolute ruler of the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. God’s great house, over which he rules, is all of creation and all creatures. God rules the angels, the demons, the people, the animals, the plants, the weather, the land, the sea, and the sky. God is sovereign over everything and everyone.

Here’s more good news. The sovereign God is not silent; the sovereign God speaks. The prayer of verse 25 is the prayer of a people thankful for God’s word that makes sense of our lives. God, “who spoke through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit.” These people know the word of God and are now applying the patterns of Scripture to their lives. What God said about David applies to Jesus and therefore applies to Jesus’ people. What happened to David foreshadows what will happen to Jesus and since we follow Jesus’ example, we should expect the same to happen to us.

Before we move into the content of this prophecy, take note of the Trinity. It is God, the Sovereign Lord, who is speaking. This refers to God the Father. It is God, the Holy Spirit, who is inspiring David to write these words. It is God, the Son, who is the subject of this prophecy. Verse 26 points to the Lord’s Christ, the Lord’s anointed. God the Father speaks through God the Spirit about God the Son.

The content of David’s prophecy is the Gentiles rage against God. This, verse 27, is a reference to Jesus, Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews. We’ll take the details in moment. For now, let’s keep with the thread of sovereignty. What did all these people do? Read verse 28, “whatever God’s hand and God’s plan had predestined to take place.” The King James gives a helpful translation, “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Here is a reference to God’s mind; he planned beforehand for Jesus, Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews to do these things. Here is a reference to God’s strength, it is God’s strong hand that ensures his plan is fulfilled. Plans without power are pointless.

Take note how the sovereignty of God has been Peter’s theme. Acts 2:23, “Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” In Acts 3:18, Peter affirms that God predicted the suffering of Christ and actively guided the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Here is the significance of the sovereignty of God for the early Church: God has a plan and God is working the plan. God’s plan is to redeem his people and his creation through the suffering of his Son. God’s plan will be opposed by every sort of people, but God will strengthen his own to fulfill the mission. Knowing God’s plan to strengthen his suffering people, the early church gathers together to pray for God’s help to fulfill the mission. They pray for God to give them boldness and miracles so that they can continue to tell people about the resurrection of Jesus. Affirming the sovereignty of God led them to pray for the strength of God.

There is a theological affirmation here: God is the boss. There is also a warning here:

II. Don’t fight against God

The church prays Psalm 2 because they know the pattern of history. The Gentiles rage against the Lord and against his Anointed. The people make their plans to oppose God’s plan. The kings stand up against God’s plan. The rulers make alliances to try and thwart God’s plan. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are gladly and willingly opposing God’s sovereign plan.

The idea that if God is sovereign this means people are puppets is an argument based on philosophy not based on the Bible. In the Bible we don’t see puppets mindlessly doing the will of God against their own will. In the Bible we see men and women willingly and ferociously doing the will of God. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are doing exactly what they want to do when they oppose the Lord and his anointed. Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews are doing exactly what God’s hand and plan had predestined to take place when they oppose the Lord and his anointed.

Now remember, this prayer is a prayer according to the pattern of history. So, the warning is for us

  • We rage against God’s plans

Let’s think for a moment about why Ephesians 2:3 says we are by nature children of wrath. Every human is born with a heart that rages against God. We are born wanting to be sovereign. Why does the toddler refuse to eat when hungry and sleep when tired? Because that toddler would rather battle you for her sovereignty than go your way. Why does the child disobey your instructions that are for his good? He wants to be sovereign and who cares if his running away runs him into the street? Why do we reject God’s good plan for our families and finances? We are all desperate to fulfill the desire inside of us to be in control.

Herod wants to be in control. Pilate wants to be in control. The Romans wants to be in control. The Jewish leaders want to be in control. I want to be in control. You want to be in control. We all want to be God. We rage against God and every expression of God’s authority in our lives. But,

  • God is sovereign

It is common and quite natural to hate the idea of God’s sovereignty because we all love the idea of our own independent self-rule. I don’t want to be ruled; I want to rule! Satan fell into sin because Satan was enamored with the idea of being God. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was in love with the idea that he was in control. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was in love with the idea that he was in control. I wake up every morning in love with the idea that I control the day and will shape it according to my hand and my definite plan.

Back to Ephesians 2, verse 10 this time, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. God’s plan is to sanctify me and bring redemption to those around me. The way God has determined to bring redemption is through Jesus Christ turning rebels into humble servants. The cost of this transfer from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son is the very life of Christ. Jesus transforms his enemies by dying for his enemies. Were it not for the sovereignty of God, this plan would be such a foolish risk. But we know, listening to God’s word and looking at history, that God is sovereignly working his plan of redemption. God is working in and through our rebellion. God is working in and through the rebellion of our children and coworkers and neighbors. This gives us strong encouragement to

III. Depend on the sovereign Lord

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Acts 4:24-30 is a communal prayer. The church has gathered together to hear from Peter and John. Their natural response was to pray because prayer is dependence upon the sovereign Lord. Here are three reasons to pray. First,

  • We pray because we are rebels

These Christians in Acts 4 knew they needed help to fulfill God’s will. There is no idea here that God is going to do whatever God wants to do so my choices don’t matter. God’s sovereignty in no way removes our responsibility. God is in control and we willingly choose. Knowing their tendency to run from difficulty in order to protect their own comfort, these Christians pray for God’s help to keep preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God you must stretch out your hand to heal. God you must grant that signs and wonders be done in Jesus’ name. The Gentiles are raging against the church like they raged against Jesus like they raged against David. Give us strength and give us boldness.

We pray because we are a rebellious people and we dwell among a rebellious people. God’s will is for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. God’s will is for wives to submit to the benevolent leadership of their husbands. God’s will is for children to obey their parents, citizens to obey their leaders, and for each of us to love our neighbors. But, we don’t want to.

The reason I don’t pray is because I have bought into the lie that I am sovereign. Think about it. Why does Satan live a life of prayerlessness? Satan does not pray because he is convinced of the idea that going his own way is infinitely better than going God’s way. May God grant us the ability to see the deep-rooted rebellion that lurks in ourselves. May God grant us the strength and boldness and ability to give ourselves for the redemption of the rebels all around us.

We pray because we are rebels and

  • We pray because we are dependent

The praying Christian is the dependent Christian. I can’t change myself. I can’t change my coworker. I can’t change my spouse. I can’t change my child. Sovereign God, stretch out your hand to heal because my hand has no strength. Sovereign God, grant signs and wonders that will point the rebellious to Jesus. Sovereign God, teach me your Word so that I can teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you (Ps 51:13).

I want to run and hide from suffering and sacrifice. I want my own ease and comfort. I do not want my neighbor’s redemption. I want my child to leave me alone I do not want to point her to Jesus. Feeling our rebellious tendencies and feeling our weaknesses causes us to pray. We are dependent upon God. We pray because we are insufficient and

  • We pray because God is sovereign

Angela and I went to Trader Joe’s last week and bought a pumpkin. Imagine that I decided to pray to that pumpkin to accomplish that pumpkin’s will in my life. I might feel spiritual and empowered by praying to the pumpkin, but that prayer would be pointless because that pumpkin is powerless. The reason we pray to God is because he is the boss of heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them. We pray to God because, Philippians 2:13, God works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. We pray to God because, Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

We pray to God because he can actually do something about our situations. God is infinitely greater than my pumpkin. We pray to God because he has not created a world of robots who mindlessly obey his will. We pray to God because we have chosen a world where we are rebels. We pray to God because he has chosen a world where rebels are transformed through the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. You will not find strength by forming an idol who has neither the power nor the desire to rescue rebels. We find strength in the sovereign God who has a plan and is working his plan regardless of our plans. May the Sovereign Lord grant us repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that we may come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Tim 2:25-26).

God is working his plan in you. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. God is working his plan in your family. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. God is working his plan in your work. Stop fighting him and depend on Jesus. Let us pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we speak the word of God with boldness. Let’s rest in the sovereignty of God.

Discuss Acts 4:23-31

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. How do you define the sovereignty of God? How sovereign is God?
  3. Acts 4:24 defines God as the master of the house (the Sovereign Lord). According to Acts 4:24, what are the boundaries or limits of God’s house?
  4. Why is it necessary for the Sovereign Lord to speak to us?
  5. There is a pattern here of rebels fighting against God (Acts 4:25-27). Describe how this looked in David’s life, Jesus’ life, and now in your life.
  6. What does Acts 4:28 say the people did?
  7. What was primary in the crucifixion of Jesus, the will of the people or the will of God?
  8. How did the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage the church to pray in Acts 4?
  9. How should the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage you to pray?
  10. Did the people resign themselves to the idea that God is going to do whatever God wants to do so their prayers don’t matter? Why should we pray?
  11. Think of one person you know who is living as a rebel against God. Pray and ask God to give you the boldness to talk to him/her about Jesus.

Praying for Jay Collier

Be praying these things for Jay Collier, our newest elder among Mambrino Baptist Church.

  1. A gospel minister is made competent by grace

Pray for Jay to depend on grace to do the work among us and not on his own intellect. Pray for Jay to boast in his weakness and depend on grace. He will be tempted to fear because of his weaknesses. Ask God to make his grace known to Jay.

  1. A gospel minister ministers the gospel

Pray for Jay to deliver the gospel like a faithful workman. Pray for him to be a skilled master builder working always with the gospel. May God help Jay apply the gospel to the unbeliever and believer.

  1. A gospel minister is aware of Christ

Pray for Jay to boast in and depend upon Christ.  Pray for Jay to work by the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way Jay is going to make it as a pastor among us is if he is aware of how the Father, Son, and Spirit make him competent for this work.

  1. A gospel minister is fruitful

Ask God to use Jay to bring many sons and daughters to faith in Jesus Christ. Ask God to use Jay to disciple believers, reconcile family members, heal marriages, and instruct the saints.

  1. A gospel minister is ambitious

Ask God to give Jay clarity concerning the work he needs to do among us. There is much to do. What is Jay’s role? Pray and ask God to show Jay how to please Christ as he works among us.

Care Group / Midweek Bible Study

Care-Groups

Care Group is our Wednesday Bible study that meets from 6:45-7:45 pm at a members’ house. Care Group meets every other week (9/18, 10/3, 10/17, 10/31, etc.). The time together is spent on a simple meal, praying for one another, reviewing the sermon text from the previous Sunday, then seeking to help one another apply that text to life. It is helpful to look or listen to the sermon and discussion question posted on this blog before attending Care Group.

Comment below if you need more information.

Pray for our youth

Our youth are at camp this week. You know you should be praying for them, but what should you pray for? Alvin Reid, in his book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, gives us five helpful ways to pray.

  1. Ask God to open their spiritual eyes (2 Cor. 4:4).
  2. Ask God to give them ears to hear (Matt 13:15), faith to believe (Acts 20:21), and a will to respond (Rom 10:9).
  3. Ask God to send people into their lives to witness to them (Matt 9:38).
  4. Ask God for ways to build caring relationships (1 Cor 9:22).
  5. Ask God for an opportunity to invite them to an event where the gospel is shared (Luke 14:23).

Our youth are at camp, an event where the gospel is shared. Join me in praying for the realization of the other 4.

Praying the Attributes of God

One reason I struggle to pray is I forget, or don’t think clearly, about my heavenly Father. Here is a list of God’s attributes compiled by the Navigators. You can read one a day to start your time with God. Or, you can read through the entire list until a particular truth stirs you to pray.

https://www.navigators.org/resource/praying-names-attributes-god/

 

 

 

A “Handy” Blog

I was raised in a traditional Baptist church (for which I am very thankful). But this beneficial upbringing left me a bit uncertain about what to do with my hands during worship and prayer. Maybe you can relate to Tim Hawkins.

On a more thoughtful note, I want to recommend Sam Storm’s blog post where he lists several passages referring to our hands and then draws some implications for times of worship, both individually and corporately. Check it out here- Sam Storms, I Will Lift Up My Hands

Pray and Don’t Lose Heart; Luke 18:1-8

You can listen to the sermon audio here

Main Point: We all need help to keep praying as we ought.

In life, some things are easy to do, some things are hard to do, and other things cannot be done on your own. I can tie my shoes on my own. I’ve got that. But while remodeling our house I have run into numerous things I struggle to do alone and other things simply I cannot do by myself. I cannot hang the first course of 12’ hardie board siding. I can’t do that by myself. I need help. Years ago I watched my dad try and try and try and eventually quit smoking. He couldn’t do it alone. Big projects and kicking an addiction are all hard to do without help. We get that. But did you realize we all need help to pray?

You are not supposed to pray on your own and prayer is never presented in the bible as something which comes easily. A powerful, fruitful prayer life is hard won. We need help. What I’m saying is it encourages me to see Jesus encouraging his disciples to pray. Jesus knew his disciples needed help praying. They needed more than just instructions concerning how to pray. They needed encouragement to keep praying. Their life was hard and they often suffered in unfair or even unjust ways. Where is God in that? Why keep praying if God isn’t going to do what is right?

You and I as Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ. We suffer, our brothers and sisters suffer, in unjust conditions. As disciples we also need help to pray. Today, from Luke 18, we are going to receive encouragement for prayer. Our parable for today, the parable of the persistent widow, is one of the compare and contrast parables. Jesus wants us to look at the unrighteous judge and know if that guy delivers justice how much more will God himself deliver justice.

Let’s read the parable- Luke 18:1-8

I. The bad guy delivers

We need to follow Jesus’ logic in this parable. We start with the unrighteous judge

  • The unrighteous judge

As a judge it is his responsibility to decide between cases and uphold what is right. From the sound of the parable he is what we call a civil court judge. He doesn’t hear criminal cases. He hears disputes. The problem is the only thing he cares about is himself.

He has no fear of God. This means the judge has no higher standard than himself. He is his own guide. No one can appeal to justice or right and wrong or moral law because this judge sees no basis for moral law. To make matters worse this judge doesn’t care about the people under his authority. He doesn’t care if you are hurt or taken advantage of by another. The weak matter nothing to him and the strong matter nothing to him.

Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the citizens could not appeal to justice with this judge and the citizens could not appeal to love with this judge. Love and justice have become meaningless. So if someone wrongs you, you could go to the judge about it but there was no telling what the judge might do or if he will do anything at all. The people of this city are on their own being overseen by a useless even harmful judge.

Connect this judge with God. Many of our friends and family view God this way. God doesn’t give a rip. Maybe you view God this way. You stopped praying or have never prayed because God isn’t there or doesn’t care. If that’s you, you are safe here. We want to help you and encourage you and walk slowly with you as you figure God out.

That’s the unrighteous judge- unpredictable at best and harmful at worst. So don’t expect anything good from him. Now here comes our next character the persistent widow.

  • The persistent widow

In this parable we have a powerful person- the judge- and a powerless person- the widow. As a widow she would have little to no rights or relationships for protection. She would struggle to make it by and when wronged there would be none to defend her. Well, the judge should defend her and protect her but as we have seen this judge isn’t that type.

In verse 3 we see she has an adversary. Someone has brought an accusation against her. In Luke 20:47 we see Jesus calling out the scribes for devouring widows’ houses. So it’s not hard to imagine a situation where someone in the city with power and influence is trying to take advantage of the weak and helpless position of this widow. It is possible someone is trying to take her property by some legal maneuver.

What does she do? She keeps going to the judge saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.” She is being wronged and wants the judge to do his job and protect her.

Let’s pause for a moment here. There are many encouraging application points for this parable but let’s not move too quickly past the immediate situation. Jesus is speaking into a situation where his disciples are being wronged. So don’t think first about praying for a new car. Think first about your car being confiscated because you are a Christian. How should you respond? How should you pray? Think about your business being shut down because you are a Christian. How should you respond? How should you pray? Think about your house being confiscated because you are a Christian. How should you respond? How should you pray? Jesus wants us to pray and not lose heart when justice is thwarted. Now let’s get back to the parable.

How does the judge initially respond to her repeatedly coming and asking for justice? Verse 4, for a while he refused her. Not going to do it. Not going to listen. I don’t care. But then he thinks to himself. It’s like the prodigal son coming to his senses in the pig pin. This is not comfortable for me. I should do something about it. This judge is like the prodigal son. He is also like the unrighteous steward in chapter 16 who comes up with a plan to make his friends receive him into their houses after he’s been fired. Jesus tells parables about people thinking. You and I should try to do a little more thinking about our current situation.

So the unrighteous judge says to himself, verse 4, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”

He’s clear the reason he is giving her justice is so that she will leave him alone. He doesn’t care about what is right and he doesn’t care about her. He only wants to get her off his back. So because she was annoying she finally received what she wanted. The unrighteous judge gave her justice. He delivered. Now let’s think about God.

II. God will deliver

Look at verse 6, “And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” Here is our first encouragement to pray.

  • Pray because God is just and loving

These are two attributes of God which are absolutely necessary for prayer. If you lose either of these you will derail prayer. When wronged we need to know God has our backs. When the wrong continues unchallenged we need to know with absolute surety God will deliver justice.

Look at verse 7, God will give justice to his elect. Verse 8, he will give justice to them speedily.

Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” [See Deuteronomy 32:35; Hebrews 10:30; Psalm 94:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:6]. The storyline of Scripture reveals many things about God but one of the major truths from all of Scripture is God can be trusted to punish evil. God will uphold justice.

Now this truth can lead us to think God is concerned for the right thing but maybe he is not concerned for people. Or God is going to give justice to those people but he can’t be trusted to give justice to me. We need to know God is just AND loving towards each of us.

Look back at Luke 18:7, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” Sometimes in Scripture, like in Romans 9, a reference to election is a reference to God’s freewill choice of a particular person to be saved. Other times, like here in Luke 18, a reference to election is a reference to God’s loving relationship with a certain person or people. Colossians 2:12 gives instructions to God’s chosen ones; chosen ones are holy and loved. Think of the shepherd loving his lost sheep. Think of the woman searching for her treasured coin. Think of the father welcoming home his beloved son. Christians, the elect, God loves you.

Romans 8:31 asks, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Some of us struggle to pray because we struggle to believe God loves us. In these times do not look to your circumstances for proof of God’s love. Your circumstances are constantly changing. Instead look to the atoning work of Christ for you. Look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your salvation. There you will see how much God loves you. Pray because God is just and loving and

  • Don’t lose heart because God will give you justice

Pray because God is better than the unrighteous judge. If that scum bag gave the widow justice won’t the faithful God give his people justice? He certainly will. Remember, Jesus is not only concerned that you keep on praying, Jesus is concerned that we do not lose heart. Jesus is concerned about you and me becoming discouraged. Now why might Jesus’ disciples become discouraged and give up on prayer?

We must read Scripture in context. Luke 18 comes right after Luke 17 for a reason. Jesus had just been teaching the Pharisees and his disciples about the end of history. I’ll summarize this way, when this age comes to an end things are going to get rough. There will be suffering and rejection. God’s people will be mocked and ignored as in the day of Noah. It’s going to be like the days of Sodom when God’s people are abused by their neighbors. It’s going to be hard. Life is going to be harder than we know it now.

Don’t be surprised by difficulty. Don’t be surprised by suffering. It’s going to be rough. You will be wronged. You will be taken advantage of without any earthly course for justice. The judges aren’t going to care about God and the judges aren’t going to care about you. Will you turn your back on God?

Listen to what Jesus asks in verse 8, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will you fall away because you don’t get your way?

Luke 17 is so important for understanding Luke 18 because Jesus is reminding us that we will receive justice. God will do the right thing and we need to know when he will right every wrong. Justice will be finally served at the return of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes back God will give justice to his elect. And Jesus is coming soon. God will not delay long over his own. Jesus will come speedily and God will give justice to them.

I think of those martyred during the Tribulation. Turn with me to Revelation 6:9-11.

When will God judge? When will God avenge their blood? He will judge and avenge when Jesus returns. Church, God is surely working. He cares for us. But God is not working on our timetables.  God is working on his own time table.

God is surely working. Jesus is coming. Therefore, do not lose heart. God will give you justice. I don’t know your situation and I don’t know the ways you are being wronged but I know justice is coming. Don’t give up. Don’t harden your heart toward God. Trust that he is just and trust that he is loving regardless of how your prayers are being answered right now.

III. Let’s apply this parable

  • Pray and don’t lose heart

Jesus wants to encourage you to pray. I hope you see and feel the benefit of a just and loving God. I hope you want to keep praying because of what you have seen in the word today. It may be you need encouragement to keep paying while suffering in an unjust situation. It may also be you need encouragement to keep praying for your Christian brothers and sisters as they suffer in an unjust situation. We are to remember them as if in prison with them (Heb 13:3).

I think of our sister Asia Bibi as she suffers in Pakistan waiting trial[1].  She is certainly tempted to lose heart and stop praying. We need to be there for her.

As you pray remember

  • The fact that we need help praying means we need to gather often with the church.

This church exists to help others treasure Christ. In every Sunday School class, midweek meeting, worship gathering, and one on one get together we want to give one another more reasons to pray, keep praying, and not lose heart.

  • The fact that we need help praying means we must constantly preach, teach, sing, and speak about the trustworthiness of God.

Seeing the glorious and trustworthy God in the word and trusted in real life encourages us to pray. We must be a people who are focusing on the God revealed through Jesus in the Word.

  • The fact that we need help praying helps us understand the role of celebrating answered prayer.

Hearing your answered prayer encourages me to pray. Hearing my answered prayer encourages you to pray. We must be a people who celebrate what God is doing in and through one another.

  • The fact that we need help praying means we need to be praying together.

When we hear one another begging and pleading with God it encourages us to join with one another in trusting prayer. What I mean is sharing a prayer request is good but sitting with someone as they pour out their heart to God in pleading prayer over that request is quite another thing. To do this you need to come early and stay late so you can pray with others. To do this you need to invite people into your home to pray. It’s going to be awkward asking for help; it always is because we are prideful people. But the truth is we all need help praying and God has given you this church and given you to this church to help people pray.

So, I have declared to you the trustworthiness of God to encourage you to pray. I hope you have been helped and want to pray.

Now, you need the opportunity to pray. Pray where you are, come and knell before God, or go to a quiet place. You may want to ask another person to pray with you. Go and do that. You may be led to go and pray for someone. Go and do that. Trusting God let’s do whatever the Spirit is leading us to do.

[1] http://www.persecutionblog.com/asia-bibi/