“Vertical Balance in 06: Prayer and The Word”
January 1, 2006
Vertical balance in our relationship with God requires the balance of prayer and the Word.
I. Christ's balanced life of prayer
II. Christ's balanced life in the Scriptures
MessageAn ongoing to joke I make with our kids at home is that I tell them they must stop growing because I like them the way the they are. When I tell them this they say “but daddy we have to grow because that’s the way God made us. Then, I say ok, all right. The other day I was using this joke with Cade. This time He responded by giving me a hug and said “Daddy I have to grow up because I want to be like you.” As you can imagine that really pulled on my heart strings. But now think how much God wants to hear us saying to Him: “Daddy I have to grow up because I want to be just like you and your Son.”
In light of that, for today’s sermon and next Sunday’s sermon we will go back in time and experience the life of Jesus to remind ourselves how we grow up to be like Jesus. So I want us to do some personal and corporate inventory based upon our mission here at Trinity Fellowship. These next two sermons are going to be about the big picture and the basics of what God wants us to do. Sometimes we lose sight of the forest and only see the trees. Hence, we will take a wide lens look at God’s commands on our lives so we don’t miss the big picture.
The “wheel” on the screen is a picture of what priorities we believe God has called us to have. We believe the Scriptures give us these commands personally and corporately.
Each priority or big command is a spoke in the wheel. There are four spokes in the wheel. The center of the wheel is worshiping Christ. Everything we do in our lives is for the primary purpose of worshiping and loving Jesus Christ. The vertical spokes, prayer and the Word, are how we love God in our relationship with Him. Furthermore, the horizontal spokes are how we love God in our relationships with others. For this morning I will focus on the vertical spokes, prayer and the Scriptures. In looking at these spokes I want to emphasize keeping a balance of each of these in our lives.
So my purpose this morning is to motivate us to have a strong vertical relationship with God. Of course the vertical and horizontal spokes cannot be separated completely. For if we do not love others we cannot love God. Yet, the vertical spokes are the foundation for the horizontal spokes in the wheel.
Now I must ask you the question, “How are you doing in prayer? How well are you hearing and doing God’s Word? How well balanced are you with each of these?
As I was developing this sermon I have pondered, “What should motivate us to make these a passion in our life?” There are plenty of motivations in Scripture to obey God such as rewards in heaven, blessings on earth, and avoidance of God’s discipline. These are valid and important motivations.
Yet I believe the primary motivation we have is found in 1 John 4:19
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
The Son of God first loved us by taking on the form of a man and living a perfect life. So let’s take a look at Jesus’ life to find the example and the inspiration to improve our vertical relationship with Him in 06.
First we look at some selected texts from Jesus’ life in the area of prayer. The first observation in Jesus’ life of prayer is when He prayed. Let’s look at Luke 5:16.
Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Notice how Jesus balanced horizontal priorities with His vertical priorities. Horizontally, He is loving people. He is doing great ministry. Jesus heals numbers of people. Yet he OFTEN purposely walked away from ministry and went to a lonely place to pray. He left behind people’s needs temporarily to get in touch with His Father, since His Father is the source of His ministry.
In some ways this is like a person who is always working and at work, but rarely goes home for refuge. He ends up burning out because He is out of balance. Jesus often served others, but He also OFTEN prayed.
But why pray more often? Pray more because Christ did it. Pray more because He first loved us. Pray often because we love our Savior.
How often do you pray? Do you get away to lonely places to pray? Do you pray daily? Do you pray throughout the day? This is a hard one for me to preach because I think I can do better in this area. So let’s do a little exercise. Take 30 seconds to write down how what you will do to pray more.
The second observation regarding Jesus and prayer is that His prayer life had times of great passion. Let’s read Hebrews 5:4-7
Hebrews 5:4-7 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
"You are my Son; today I have become your Father."
And he says in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Jesus was and is the perfect great high priest because although He never sinned He was subject to weakness. He understands our weaknesses so He is a great priest or go-between God and man. And when Christ prayed He prayed with passion and obedience. Notice in verse 7 that Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears in submission to the Father. It seems that Christ didn’t always pray with loud cries and tears, but in time of great need as Jesus headed to the cross He cried out to the Father.
There are many times in our lives when we need to cry out with tears to our Heavenly Father. One time for me to cry out was when Shawn was pregnant with Christian they thought His heart was defective and would need immediate surgery after He was born or He would die. I remember crying out to the Lord to save Christian. Then we went to the specialist who did further examination and found his heart to be ok. Either the first doctor was wrong or God did a miracle in the meantime. It seems more likely that it was the latter. But we cried out to the Lord. Yet I think we don’t realize how often and for how many things we should be crying out to the Lord.
For example, how about crying out to the Lord for people we think are unsaved. How often do weep in tears and cry out in pains for God to deliver them from Hell.
How about you? Do you cry out to the Lord for deliverance? Do cry out for lost souls to be saved? How about our church as a whole? Do we have times a prayer when we fervently call out to the Lord? How does God want us to cry out for deliverance? One outreach idea that I will explain more next week must be bathed in passionate prayer. Maybe that is one way for us as a church to be more passionate in our praying.
Trans: The last area of Christ’s prayer life we will look at is a balance between praying for the saved and praying for the lost.
Let’s read John 17:9-10 and Luke 23:32-34 next to each other.
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
In John 17:8-9 Jesus prays near the end of His Life for the disciples and later He says He prays for the believers who will believe. That is in contrast with His prayer at the cross for the ones crucifying Him to be forgiven. Jesus prayed both for the lost and the saved. The Son of God loves all and prays for all.
How balanced are you in your personal prayer for the saved and the lost? Do you pray primarily for some and not the others? How do you make sure you pray consistently for both the lost and the saved? How do we pray as a whole church? In our men’s Bible Studies, women’s Bible studies, small groups, youth group, Sunday School classes do we pray for both lost and saved people? Maybe God is prompting someone to start a prayer ministry. Come talk to Bob, the elders and myself and let’s see how God leads.
Trans: So we have seen that Jesus was balanced in prayer, now let’s look at how Jesus was lived a balanced life in the Scriptures.
Jesus balanced his life in the Word with knowledge, memorization, and teaching of the Scripture. Let’s look at passage, which reveals His knowledge.
When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Here we find Jesus at the age of 12 baffling the teachers of the Law with His answers. You may say that of course it was easy for Jesus to amaze the teachers because He was God, He knew it all anyway. Yet we have to remember that in verses 51-52 we learn that Jesus grew in knowledge. So, I don’t understand this completely yet He chose not to use His ability to know all things. But he studied and learned the Scriptures just like you and I except without computer programs, concordances, and study Bibles. He grew in great knowledge of the Scriptures.
We are very blessed to have so many translations and so many tools to study God’s Word. God’s grace has been superabundant to us. How are you growing in knowledge of the Scriptures? Do you spend consistent time study the Scriptures? How will you do better this year?
Jesus not only had great understanding of the Scriptures, but also He memorized and used the Scriptures to change His life on a moment-by- moment basis. There is a famous story from Jesus’ life that illustrates this well. Can anyone guess what passage I am going to? Yes, you are right and for having such knowledge of the Scripture you get a free chocolate. Let’s read Jesus responses to the Devil’s temptations.
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"
Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Jesus had hidden God’s Word in His heart that when a time of temptation came He resisted Satan’s temptations. There appears to be no hesitation on Jesus’ part when he is tempted. He didn’t get out his concordance and look up a word that correlated with Satan’s temptation. In machine gun like manner He fires back at Satan.
Have you loaded your Scripture machine gun? Do you have any ammunition to fire back? Pardon the gun analogy. I wrote some of this sermon in a hunting blind.
The last area we will look at is Christ’s teaching of the Scriptures
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Christ didn’t keep the Scriptures to Himself. He opened the minds of the disciples to understand what was written about Christ. He understood the Scriptures Himself extremely well, yet he didn’t hide His knowledge under a bushel. He shined His knowledge upon the disciples and it revolutionized their life. Our Lord cared enough to spend time with His disciples and share the Scriptures.
Now let’s do another exercise. Rate yourself from 1-10 on your card regarding the use of the Scriptures in your life. Then write down some things that God is impressing on your heart that He wants you to do in your life.
How well are we doing as a church? It seems to me that this is a real strong point for this church. The question is how much are you taking advantage of all the Bible Studies, small groups, and involving your children in youth ministries?
Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect balance regarding the commands God the Father had on His life. In His vertical relationship with God He balanced prayer and the Scriptures. By obeying these commands He stayed close to the Father in His relationship with Him. His life is our ultimate inspiration, motivation, and example.
Are prayer and God’s Word priorities in your life? Will you be balancing prayer and in the Word in 2006? Will we as a church balance prayer and the Word in 2006
In 2006 will we climb up in Jesus’ lap to tell Him we want to grow up to be like Him?