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Tim Keller Lecture Notes — Series: Sex, Singleness, and Marriage — Lecture #1: Sex–The Biblical Guidelines

Lecture was given on September 1, 1993.

The teaching is based on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Please note that these notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction:

There is no biblical view of dating. They didn’t date. You were three years old and you were walking along with your parents and they saw someone and said, “Oh, there’s a nice family, there’s a good arrangement, let’s have them get married.” My grandmother was betrothed; she was twelve and she was betrothed to my grandfather by her parents. And I used to say, “How was it?” And she’d say, “I had a great marriage, what are you talking about? It was fine!” (More on dating next week, when we talk about singleness.)

The biggest problem tonight is that you’re all in different places, but I’m going to have to aim at a particular type of person. I may not be coming right up the center of your alley, but I hope I can at least knock down a lot of pins in your alley….

Many of you have heard me preach on sex before, though I haven’t done it many times. But you’ve come tonight because you need more details than the overview I’ve given in sermons. So first, I’ll lecture, and second, I’ll let you ask me questions so that you can get the details you need.

Here’s how I’ll start, at the locus classicus on the subject: 1 Corinthians 6:12 to the end….

What is the biblical sex ethic?

  • First I’ll say it negatively: the Bible is clear that sex is for a man and a woman within a marriage. It’s always been like that.
  • Sometimes when I’ve taught on this, people have looked at me and said, “Period? That’s where it ends?” They’ve said you must be one of the conservative pastors.
    • Every branch of Judaism and Christianity has always taught this same thing. It’s very hard to find something that all of the religions have consensus on. Someone who says that this kind of stance on sexuality is part of a backwater cult, they simply don’t understand the history of the world.
    • They say, “Times have changed! This was an idea developed in Europe to keep population down.” I’m glad you’re laughing at that, because that’s really silly. Christianity originally broke on the scene in the middle of the Roman empire! Everybody looked at them and thought they were crazy. But when people came into belief and experienced the power of this ethic, it won. Believing this is something that’s outdated is simply showing a lack of understanding of the transformative power that this idea of a biblical sex ethic had in the sexually permissive society it came on the scene in.
  • The problem with this negatively posed description of sex is that it doesn’t tell you what sex is for, it only tells you what it’s not for.
    • A lot of you were raised in churches where you were taught this, but you weren’t converted, and then later in life you were transformed and came back to the church as genuine believers, and you’re faced again with this teaching which for years you’ve abandoned.
    • So I want to explain what sex is for.
  • But before that, let’s address two views that Paul was dealing with.
    • The Platonic View: First, get out of your head of the way that word is used today. We’re talking about the philosophy of Plato–that the body is bad, matter is bad, the soul is imprisoned in the body, and therefore sexuality is a dirty bad thing.
    • On the other hand, there was the view of the mystery religions: That sex was an appetite that you fulfilled when you felt like it.
    • Paul is careful to distinguish the Christian view from both.
  • We are neither to despise nor deify sex.
    • To despise it is to think of it as a dirty, defiling thing.
    • To deify it is to simply let our instincts do what they want; we can’t treat our instincts as if they’re God.
    • Paul teaches that sex isn’t dirty, but that our sexual instinct is disordered.
    • To deal with the Platonic side, Paul says, “Sex is so critical that both spouses ‘owe’ sex to each other.” It’s commanded–go to it! (“That’s a paraphrase.”)
      • Is it possible that God would command something that was defiling? Heck no. It’s good. He gave it a benediction after creation (Genesis 1-2).
      • The Bible is very embarrassing for Platonic views of sex — the Song of Solomon. The translators constantly wimp out on translating the Hebrew as it really is.
      • Proverbs 5:18 — A man must be ravished with his wife’s breasts.
      • There’s no tittering about sex in the Bible; when it’s wrong, it addresses it, when it’s right, it praises it.
      • Romans 7 — the image is that just as a woman puts herself literally in the arms of her husband and fruit is born into the world, in the same way the Bible says if you put yourself into the arms of Jesus Christ, in the same way fruit will be born into the world through you. It’s an amazingly intimate and daring thing.
      • The Bible teaches us that the ecstasy and joy of sex was created by God to give a foretaste of the amazing intimacy and closure that we will enjoy with God. Sex is a signpost, it’s an analogy. The intimacy that you hunger for in sex can only be given to you by intimacy with God.
      • When we meet with Christ face to face, when we enter into that closure, then we’ll know what sex has all been about; therefore, sex is glorious! How can it possibly be dirty or defiling?
      • The Bible’s view of sex is higher than any other book or philosopher I’ve ever read.
    • To deal with the appetite view of sex, Paul says:
      • v. 13-15, 18 — the body is not for immorality!
      • Sexual oneness with somebody apart from having every other kind of oneness (through marriage) is a monstrosity
      • Now: Why? If sex is so great and glorious, why is Paul talking about how serious it is?
        • Sexual sin can really disorder you in a major way.
        • Sex isn’t any more unforgivable than other sins, but biblically, because sex is a whole lot closer to the center of reality than a mere appetite, therefore sin has hurt sex in the way it hasn’t hurt your physical appetite for food
        • Sin: the bent of the whole person to want to live for your own self and to do things your own way. It’s sin that makes us use people, that makes us always want to put ourselves in the center.
        • Sin can affect our appetite with food, but when you’re dealing with food your dealing with an inanimate object; sex is dealing with another person.
          • If anyone says they deny sin, why do they lock their car? Their front door?
        • Lewis’ radio talk over the BBC on sexuality: Imagine going to a country where young men in college put on the walls of their dorm rooms great big, life-size, full color pictures of hot dogs and hamburgers, and the guys went around to each other’s room saying, “Oh, wow, look at this one!”
          • If you saw this, you’d say, “What’s wrong with these people? They must be starving!” But if you came you’d find out that’s not true; they’ve been eating like crazy. The only conclusion you’d be able to come to would be to say that there’s something deeply disordered and distorted about their appetite for sex.
          • So can you really believe that the appetite for food and the appetite for sex are similar?
          • No — something has gone much more deeply awry with sex than with appetites.
        • You can’t follow your instincts with sex; something has gone wrong with them.
        • If you give sex it’s way, if you hand over the reigns, you won’t get much out of it at all.
        • J. I. Packer — Sex is a signpost to God, now if you camp under a signpost you’re not going to get much of anywhere. If you camp under a sign that says, “New York – 50 Miles,” and say, “We’re here, honey!” you won’t get there. That’s what we’re doing.

What are the three biblical purposes for sex?

  • Procreation
    • One of the reasons the Roman Catholic church doesn’t do birth control is that it believes this is the purpose for sex. They believe that because of St. Augustine, who was a Platonist.
    • However, if there’s more than just this purpose for sex, than some forms of birth control are permissable.
  • Fun
    • Proverbs 5:18 — It brings joy. It’s recreational.
    • But if we stop there, we get into trouble, too. We get stuck with the mystery religions.
  • A Unitive Act
    • It is for fully, permanently, completely committed relationships b/c sex is a way of cementing relationships with complete oneness. It is God’s appointed way for saying to another person, “I belong completely and permanently to you.”

Four ways of saying the same thing

  • What Paul is saying here is that to have sexual, physical union with a prostitute (a woman) without all the other kinds of union is a monstrosity, is frustrating the purpose of sex.
  • What happens physically has got to have as its context the same unification at every level–social, legal, moral, psychological, emotional, spiritual.
  • E.g., when you have sex, you become naked. You make yourself physically vulnerable. When you have sex outside of marriage, you say, “I’m going to make myself physically vulnerable, but I won’t do it in any other way. I don’t want to make myself that vulnerable to you!”
  • You know darn well that when you first had sex with that first person, it seemed like a monstrosity that that person didn’t have any obligation to be with you.

If you see these things, you begin to see that “Thou shalt not have sex outside of marriage” is not just because we like to have rules, we like to keep you from having fun–it’s because sex is BUILT to say I belong completely to you, and if you don’t use it that way, you’ll destroy it.

  • Star Trek, “The Trouble with Tribbles”: There’s some governor of a wimpy asteroid somewhere whose trying to protect his special grain and he calls a star destroyer to come help him, he puts out a Priority One distress call, which always means that a planet’s about to be utterly destroyed.
  • If you use a non-verbal communication signal that has been legislated for one particular purpose for a different purpose, the communication signal gets destroyed!
    • When you have sex with someone who you’re not married to, you ruin your ability to communicate that commitment with sex.
  • Covenant: A binding legal contract done in public. It’s something done with witnesses, so that it’s hard for you to break your word.
    • Sex is supposed to be a regular covenant renewal ceremony
    • If you use sex the way God invented it to be used, every time you use it properly it continually strengthens and renews that covenant.
    • If, on the other hand, you use it outside of marriage, it operates backwards and destroys your ability to be totally committed, and some of you see that in your own life. It doesn’t mean anything anymore, it makes it harder and harder for you to trust.
      • A wife was once incredibly jealous of her husband and could no trust him
        • It came out that she had undermined her ability to trust by being sexually unfaithful to her husband
  • “To know” — this is one of the Hebrew words for sex in the Old Testament

So how do I actually start to practice that?

  • The Bible is always talking about lust. Jimmy Carter was mocked for admitting that he lusted for women in his heart, and that’s because if you’re not a Christian your view of sex is not very nuanced.
  • Lust is for something–for a sexual thrill.
  • So how do you deal with lust?
    • Make a distinction b/w a thought and  fantasy.
      • You can’t stop thoughts from happening. There’s a bit of time to deal with a thought.
      • To admire sexual beauty is not wrong. But to then begin to sit and entertain and begin to think of yourself in relation to that person, at that point you’re getting into a fantasy.
      • You don’t have control over the thought. You can’t stop somebody from knocking at the door, but you can go to the door and say, “I’m not interested.”
      • You can control whether or not you come to the door and say, “Well, come on in and let’s decide what to do with you.”
      • You don’t hear a knock at the door and say, “There I go again!” with dismay.
    • Fast sexually instead of starving
      • This is the difference b/w a diet and being starved. A diet is proactive approach to eating that gets you results that you like.
      • So, when it comes from dieting sexually,
    • Use the Gospel to overcome guilt from the past.
      • A lot of us have problems with our adult life because we used to have trouble with our behavior life.
      • I remember the naked women posters in the rooms on my freshman hallway. That was a long time ago! There are so many useful things to fill my mind with; why is that stuck!
      • The only way to turn those things off is if you don’t feel guilty for them anymore. You need to look at the people in the Bible who were healed and accepted who had a much worse past. Tamar’s incest. Rahab’s prostitution. And Jesus brought them into his family.
  • I’m a Christian, and I’m wondering, “How far can you go, sexually?”
      • Christianity makes you see distinctions, it gives you a much more nuanced view of sexuality, and you begin to see a real different between godly sexual passion and lust.
      • Now that you’re a Christian you’re a connosieur of sex!
    • Don’t forget that if you define sexual intercourse as penetration, it’s something for marriage, but we all know that there are all sorts of things leading up to it.
      • You’ve got to figure out that there is a place where your body will only be satisfied with penetration. I’m not going to tell you where that is. (This seems like a rigorous enough model for self-examination if you’re honest.)
      • You’ve got to think of sex as an escalator, and that everything you do will move you up it. A few steps up, there’s no problem getting off an escalator, but on the other hand, if you’re going up to the top you realize that there is no way you’re getting off.
    • Commitment and contact/intimacy go together.
      • The first time I held my wife (Kathy’s) hand, I got aroused. Women say, “What?” I think it’s because our egos kick in. We think, “Wow, she’s squeezing my hand back.” Just knowing that she’s interested in you can be sexually stimulating and arousing.
      • That doesn’t happen anymore–and that doesn’t mean the honeymoon is over, etc.
        • The reason for that is, the more committed you get the less your sexual stimulation is engaged with your ego and the more it is aroused when the other person is opening themselves up to you.
        • As time goes on, your intimacy moves up; as the commitment grows, the intimacy can grow.
    • Treat the person the way you would want someone to treat your future spouse
      • This rule will keep you safe!
  • These have been some specifics, and if you press me I might give you some more details, but I’m probably going to stick to principles because people are so different.

Some notes from the Q & A:

Someone expressed essentially that the main problem with being a Christian is not that you have to sexually fast, it’s that it narrows down your options so much for who you can marry.

  • Even you go for a long period of time without finding someone that meets the criteria, the alternative is having a string of divorces or being in a marriage where you are seen and not loved.

Marriage doesn’t fulfill you; nothing fulfills you but God. People who are rich have tremendous difficulties; people who are treading water financially have others.

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Scott Sauls Sermon Notes — Series: The Life of David 2009 — Sermon #13: David and Absalom

Sermon preached on September 6, 2009.

The teaching is based on Psalm 63.

Scott Sauls preached this message. Rev. Sauls is a Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; his preaching style is very similar to that of his Senior Pastor, Tim Keller.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction:

Psalm 63 shows us David at a time when his exterior life is in shambles and his interior life has never been better. What are the signs of spiritual health that we see here in David?

Outline: Signs of Spiritual Health

I. A Thirsty Soul

II. A Clinging Soul

III. A Joyful Soul

IV. A Tender Soul

I. A thirsty soul: an insatiable appetite for the things of God

  • Children are a better teacher for you than the best preacher in the world about what it is to be in the Kingdom
    • Kids cry out for nourishment; they demand it
    • Paul said crave the milk of the Word; Ezekiel even said the harsh words felt sweet; Jesus said His nourishment was to do God’s will
  • How do you respond when a worship service goes over or Bible study runs long?

II. A clinging soul (same word as cleaving in Genesis 2)

  • I’d rather die than live without your life, because your life is better than life.
  • David is saying, “If I lost my connection to God, I would die inside, I would lose the will to live.”
  • Everyone leans on a crutch that they use to move on out into the world with confidence
    • There are a million ways to self-medicate
  • David’s crutch for a season was the arms of women; God knew that the only way to knock that crutch out from under David was turning his son against him
    • The things we interpret as God’s judgment on us or the worst things that could ever happen to us could actually be the best things, because they will make us more God dependent.

III. A joyful heart

  • Rev. Sauls used to think reverent meant serious and grumpy
  • Luke 15 — the elder son has been good, reverent; the father says, “Come in and sing and dance and drink. This singing and dancing and welcoming in is a picture of the Kingdom: JOY.
  • How do you tell if you have real joy? It flourishes in hard times.
  • Think and and enumerate the glories of your beloved–it’s a discipline sometimes, something you start even if you don’t feel like it.
  • “the humblest, most well-balanced minds praise most” -C. S. Lewis
  • Praise: seeing what is truly valuable and treating it for the treasure that it is

IV. A tender soul

  • If you don’t want things set right, you’re not emotionally healthy
    • If your God is not just, He is an enabling co-dependent.
  • David, upon Absalom’s death: “Would that I have died instead of you.”
  • David, the recipient of this unchanging covenant love, was once a home-wrecker and a murderer.
    • God delights in forgiving even the most heinous sins to show us the roots, the jaded, twisted, misshapen parts of us, the leprosy
  • Personal Example: Rev. Sauls once came to his car in NYC and found that the window had been bashed out. He then had two options:
    • 1) Resent the city
    • 2) Love the city: this means that I must remember my own history; as I pay for someone else’s sins (by paying to get my car fixed), I must remember with joy that I don’t have to pay for my sins

Conclusion:

Jesus was the true king who went to the desert (as David went to the desert to flee from Absalom). He went willingly, because He clung to your heart. The thought of saving you was worth death to him.

Notes on Sleeping In

Reasons to hit the snooze button:

  1. Don’t feel like facing the day.
  2. Fear of the day.
  3. Don’t feel good (super tired, achy, etc.)
  4. Laziness.
  5. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before (7 hours, based on last night’s guess and this morning’s feeling and vaguely remembered past experiences, seems optimal for me).
Psalm 3:5 says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the LORD sustains me.”
This was probably originally written meaning this: David, running from Absalom, just wanted to lie down and sleep and survive through the night. I used to relate it to how, when I went to sleep, I didn’t want to get up again, but I did because I had faith that God would get me through the day (this was during my first year of teaching, mostly!). Last year, I began to read it like this: though rest and sleep are so scrumptious, I wake up from them because the LORD, not sleep, sustains me.
I think that today, this latter sense of the verse continues to instruct me most. If anything, I tend to idolize sleep, giving it more time, thought, and faith than I do God. I am the sloth written of in the proverbs; I am the foolish man. Apart from God, I would be living in my parents’ basement playing video games right now, fifty or one hundred pounds heavier.
It is only because of God, because of His redeeming work of transforming grace on my life, that I am anything more than a lazy, slothish, foolish slug of a man. It is only God. It is only Christ. It is only the Holy Spirit Who teaches me daily. Apart from them, I am the other criminal before Christ, I am Cain before repentance, I am Barabas before the switch, I am Peter before the restoration, I am Paul before the road to Damascus.
This is why God deserves all the glory for every good thing that occurs in my home, my classroom, my life. Everything.

Sermon Notes – Mark Driscoll – Genesis 3, The Fall

http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/genesis/the-fall

As I’ve been starting back in Genesis this month (I was convicted a year or so ago by Tim Keller to read the Bible straight through, trusting that it is smarter than me), I’ve been listening to Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon series on the book. Pastor Mark taught the book of Genesis at Mars Hill Church in Seattle for nearly a year. Though this sermon series is several years old, it’s basis in the timeless truth of God’s Word makes it excellent and edifying.

One thing I appreciate about Pastor Mark’s teaching is that he reads through the text and, as he reads the texts, he inserts teaching. Listening to this sermon, for example, Pastor Mark reads through Genesis 3. But during it, Pastor Mark preaches on the sinful tendencies of men, the sinful tendences of women, and common problems in marriages that come from these tendencies. But he also teaches on what the Bible teaches of Satan’s history and on some of the characteristics of our enemy.

But, classically, Pastor Mark brings it back to the gospel. After teaching on our sinfulness, he teaches on the “second Adam” (as Paul calls him), Jesus. He draws the parallels between the first and second Adams and he ends with the triumphant fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Genesis 3 of the son of Adam that would crush the serpent’s head.

I was so blown away by Pastor Mark’s closing presentation of the good news in this sermon that I had to rewind and listen to it again. I would rate this sermon a definite 10 out of 10. May the Lord continue to shape us all more into His holy Christlikeness.

My goodness, what a wonderful comfort is our Lord in the midst of our enemies of Satan, sin, and death.

Tim Keller Sermon Notes — Series: “Practicing the Christian Life: Worshipping” — Sermon #1: The Supper

Sermon was preached on May 4, 2008.

Teaching is based on 1 Corinthians 11:18-34, where Paul discusses the Lord’s Table with the Corinthians.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Introduction: Beliefs don’t automatically change your character. Many people who believe God really loves them are as selfish and messed up as everyone else

  • Belief is turned into character by what we’re calling practices / disciplines.

Outline

The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects…

I. the present to the past

II. yourself to God

III. the individual to community

IV. your beliefs to your practices

V. your present to your future.

I. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects the present to the past

  • 1 Cor 11:23 mentions “the night he was betrayed.”
  • The angel of death that came at the first passover in Egypt was judgment day fast forward. The night Jesus was betrayed was Passover. Moses said it must never be altered, and Jesus changed it. Isa. 53:6-8. No lamb can possibly cover our sin; Jesus knew He was the ultimate lamb (He in effect says, “Think about it, no lamb can cover the sins of Israel”).
  • Jesus says, “My death is the climactic event that all of history has been building up to.

Practical application: When you take the bread and cup, you’re connecting with that night.

II. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects yourself to God

  • Jesus has the audacity to take something you can put in your hands and say, “This is me.”
  • How?
    • “High view” (Catholic tradition): This bread is literally me; this is literally the saving grace without which you perish. If you don’t eat the Lord’s Supper, you’re not saved. John 6:40 refutes this.
      • The problem with this is that the night He said this, He was holding the bread, so it must have been symbolic.
    • “Low view” (Protestant tradition): This bread symbolizes me; it symbolizes saving grace.
      • The problem with this is John 6:54 says, “Unless you eat…”
    • The word “remember” began by meaning the opposite of dismember. To take something and graft it back on.

Practical application: If you’re anxious, despondent, depressed: What you believe in your head is detached from your heart, and you need to remember. If Jesus isn’t broken, you’re lost; if He’s broken, you’re made whole.

III. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects the individual to community

  • vs. 18 “there are divisions among you”; Paul is essentially saying, “You’re not recognizing that you’re a part of a body. [The Lord’s Supper] is a communal meal.
  • The whole point of the gospel is that it gives you a completely new way to look at God and yourself.
  • Once you believe that in Christ punishment for your sins falls on Him, you realize that the bad things that happen aren’t punishment
    • But God does use life’s troubles to shape us
  • When you eat with this division, or with a sole focus on the individual, it’s not the Lord’s supper that you’re eating

IV. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects your beliefs to your practices

  • Eucharist means thanksgiving. This practice is an expression of gratitude.
    • If you get a paycheck after working hard for it, you’re not filled with gratitude for it! You say, “This is mine! I earned this!!”
    • You’re not filled with gratitude for things you’ve worked for.
  • To eat the Lord’s Supper ungratefully is to eat it unworthily
  • J. N. Darby: Whenever we get out of our nothingness, we get into it. As soon as we think we have what it takes, we’ve lost the one thing it takes to be spiritually mature. (i.e., humility)

Practical application: Am I living like I’m unworthy?

  • To think you’re worthy is to eat the supper unworthily.

V. The practice of the Lord’s Supper connects our present to our future

  • Why is our future called a feast in Revelation? You’ll finally be full. You’ll no longer be empty.
  • God’s whisper at the Lord’s Supper: I am unconditionally committed to getting you in my arms at that future supper.

Close: Lord of the Rings illustration
Pippin is in the terrible city, about to die in the great battle, when he hears the horn of the coming delivering army. Tolkein writes (rough quote): “For the rest of his life, Pippin couldn’t hear a distant horn without bursting into tears.”

  • The Lord’s Table is a distant horn to remind us of the One who died to get you out of the terrible city.

Rick McKinley Sermon Notes – Worship Through Prayer

Worship through Prayer – 8/29/04 – Rick McKinley

In college Rick crank-called some believers on TV. All of them stood up and prayed for him; 6mo later he was saved, now he’s a pastor. He was a little punk crank calling these Christians, but God showed up anyway.

Nine Months of Prayer and Repentance:

When they started the church, they started it on prayer. 15-20 people, knew what God wanted us to do: be a church that builds the kingdom, be a church that serves the lost and broken. And yet every Sunday it was everybody’s buddies from other churches. We recognized that we didn’t want to love the world and this city. We got honest and said we didn’t want to. God called us to repent. We started meeting every Wednesday night at Evangel Baptist and we started praying and repenting before God. The prayers were very honest: “God, I hate my neighbor, he drives me crazy.” Our hearts started to change, because we were before God. Our prayers started to change. Instead of “I hate my neighbor” we were praying for him by name and doing acts of kindness and actually reaching out and loving these people. Over the course of 9 months God converted us. When we started, before our conversion, we were believers in Christ but not in his mission. Once we got out there, we saw the massive harvest that sin had reaped in the lives we were encountering and serving. We then prayed, God, you’ve gotten us to believe in your mission, you’ve gotten us outside the church walls, but there’s just no way we can change lives so broken unless you show up. No way, not gonna happen. The brokenness is too great.

Call to Prayer of Dependence

There is a sense that if we ask to pray with someone else, honestly and openly, that they will be down on us and judging us and treating us differently. The family of God comes together to talk to each other and say, “I need you.” A lot of you are involved in ministries in which you’re working with people that you can’t fix. There’s an overwhelmingness to it that puts us into despair sometimes. We live between the tension of our lives and a broken world spun out of control and yet this God who says I’m here, I’m attentive, and I’m listening.

Rev 5: Elders coming before the throne of God with bowls of incense. Incense is a powerful, overwhelming scent, it’s unavoidable, you have to pay attention to it.

Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed by the brokenness that we assume God isn’t there, that he’s not near and that he’s not attentive and that he doesn’t care.

What are the principles that we see from Gen to Rev that people are engaged in when they pray?

Phil 4:6-7

1 Tim 2:1–I urge you then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone

As you travel through the NT you see the Apostle Paul saying over and over and over again, pray, pray, bring everything to God, fall on your face, give thanks, make requests, intercede, ask God to show up. Paul is living on both sides of the coin—he’s not in an office, he gets stoned to death with rocks twice and left for dead. He can look at his circumstances from A-Z and say, God, you’ve left the building, I’m getting my tail kicked out here, where are you. He takes the brokenness of his circumstance and he says God is near and is attentive: pray, pray. That has to be the motivation behind prayer, or it becomes this weird work thing.

I was going to God saying, God, look how spiritual I am, rather than saying, God, I’m powerless, these circumstances in my life are out of hand and unless your goodness and care and attentiveness doesn’t break in, I have no hope. There was no power in my motivation. God says, I’m never going to make that a super good experience for you because that’s a false gospel, you need Jesus. There’s a bloodstained cross, so call out to him.

James 1:5—If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault

Prayer focuses us on the greatness and goodness of God, and that’s why unbelief is so detrimental to prayer. If I believe God ignores me, where is the motivation to cry out to him?

Why go to someone else when you can go to God? We’re sitting here saying, Hmm, I don’t know what to do, this is beyond me, and God’s behind us saying, Hello, I made the world, I’ve got a pretty good helicopter view of history and everything else. And we say, I’m gonna go to Bill, he’s smart.

James 5:13 If any of you is in trouble, he should pray.

If someone’s coming to you confessing, don’t try to fix them, just put your hand on em and pray. So much more will happen in the 10 minutes praying for them than your 4 hours babbling at them.

Ephesians 6:18 – Paul asks them for prayers. Says there’s nothing you can’t pray about. Pray for all the saints and for me. That whenever I open my mouth words will be given me that I may fearlessly let know the mystery of the gospel. Pray that I might declare it fearlessly, as I should.

1. Courage in Mission: Paul goes into towns and gets beat up for preaching the Gospel. Now he’s in jail, writing this. What would your prayer sound like in this situation? Mine would sound like, “I don’t want to get hit by rocks anymore God, please stop people from throwing rocks at me.” But Paul prays that when the rocks are coming at me next time I won’t be scared and quit talking. I believe because Paul prays all the time and he’s always in God’s face, that at the heart of mission he says, Yeah, cruddy things are going to happen in this life, but I’m not really banking on this life, I’m banking on the hope that is in Christ. God says, Pray to me; ask me for courage. It’s scary to get rejected, but they probably won’t throw boulders at you. It is scary, but you say God give me courage so they can see Jesus.

Ephesians 3:14-19: A prayer of boldness, for God to encounter your soul. Paul says I know that connecting with an infinite God is not super easy, but I also know that beyond me stands the all-powerful who wants to dwell in your life. He knows that only God can change you.

Prayer:

  • Begins with a belief that God is good and near and attentive.
  • Includes an honest examination of where their life is at: God, we need you, we’re desperate for you, you have to show up, we’re being straight up with you about that. Confess your sins to one another, quit playing games and be straight up with God.
  • Includes a confession that they are powerless to change it.

God wants to give himself away, but he wants you to come to him and ask. He leaves himself vulnerable in his way.

I pray not for megachurches but that the Church in United States will wake up and start being the church, building the kingdom.

We realize that if He doesn’t show up we could still be thousands and thousands of people playing games. But if He does show up, we could be a church that if we went away the city would miss us.