“What The Church Needs Now”
In Luke 18:1-8, we read
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
A parable is a story that is told to explain something that the hearer is already familiar with. It is a story that reveals a greater truth, from a common fact.
This morning, by God’s grace, I’d like to open up this parable to you. And in doing so, reveal a greater truth from a common fact. What fact? That the church of the Most High God stands in need. We may not speak it openly, but in our minds we know it’s true. We may try to put a beautiful mask on an ugly pig, but I’m here to tell you it’s time that we face that ugly pig in the mirror.
· The church has lost some of her glory from by-gone days.
· She has ‘fallen down’ in the cesspool that we call this world, and is acting like she can’t get up.
· She was lost her virtue, her modesty and her purpose.
This morning, I’d like to rediscover what the Bible has to say about prayer.
· But not simply for the sake of knowing, but for the sake of growing.
· Not for an exercise in futility, but for an exercise in faithfulness.
· Not for occupying time, but for the sake of redeeming the time that we have left on this present earth.
This morning I’d like to say that What The Church Needs Now is to face reality, regarding our sin of prayerlessness. I Sam. 12:23 reads, “…God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:…”
Not praying for others is a sin, according to I Sam. 12:23. But, it doesn’t stop there. Christians have slipped down a path of prayerlessness even for themselves. And when we pray, we see little to no effect from our prayers.
· We have ‘named it and claimed it’, ‘blabbed it and grabbed’ and still walk around empty handed.
· We have refused to ‘claim’ sickness, and then die of that very sickness.
· We have denied the power of the enemy over our lives, and then fallen victim to his very temptations and traps.
· We have spoken that which is not as if it were and still have nothing to show for it!
Now, as bad as this is, there’s something that makes it a hundred times worse. While all of this has been going on, the unbelievers, the unsaved, have been on the sideline watching…waiting….to see what would happen when we pray. When they heard our loud prayers and shrilled petitions, and then see the results, they laughed at us. And when they see the redeemed of the Lord say one thing and do another, they mocked us. When they listened to our messages, and then see the things we do at home and work, they became disgusted with us.
Christian friend, it’s time that the church face it’s reality.
· The reality is the church has lost some of her splendor.
· The reality is the church has lost some of her power.
· The reality is the church has lost some of her drive.
· The reality is the church has lost some of her testimony.
· The reality is the church has lost some of her holiness.
· The reality is the church needs to face reality.
As we look at Luke 18, we see a woman, a widow, who was called upon to face her own reality. Take a look at what she had to face:
· Reality: she is a female, in a male dominated world!
· Reality: she is a widow, without a husband to represent her needs.
· Reality: she is without children or her children are not there for her in her time of need.
· Reality: the one person who could help her, the judge, is known to be unjust, unfair, and doesn’t care about people.
This widow had a rude reality to face. But God still wanted her to face it! But not only face her reality, God wanted her to change her reality!
You see, for the Christian, reality is only as real as the power of your prayers. Don’t look at me like I’m speaking another language. You know it to be true. ‘Prayer changes things!’ Prayer changes people! Prayer changes situations.
If you doubt it, consider the prayers of Moses. Israel was at battle with Amalek in Exodus 17. The Bible tells us that Moses, Aaron and Hur went to a mountaintop to watch the battle and to pray.
It goes on to say, that as long as the hands of Moses were lifted in the air, Israel prevailed. But, the instance that his hands went down, Israel began to lose. So what did they do? I’ll tell you: Moses sat on a rock, with Aaron on one side and Hur on the other side. Each of these men grabbed an arm, and held it up to the heavens and Moses prayed.
· Moses didn’t pray for peace, he prayed for victory!
· Moses didn’t pray for a draw; he prayed that the enemies of God would be defeated!
· He didn’t pray, “Can’t we all just get along?” He prayed that the enemies of God would become his footstool!
Moses prayed until the ‘reality’ of Israel was changed! Altered! Fixed! But, don’t stop with Moses. How about the prayers of Joshua.
In Joshua 10,the enemies of God had rallied against the kingdom of Gibeon, the friend of Israel. The king of Jerusalem called the king of Hebron, who called the king of Jarmuth, who called the king of Lachish and the king of Eglon. These five kings made a plan to attack the kingdom of Gibeon, solely because they were the friends of Israel.
The Bible tells us that God gave Joshua and the people of Israel a promise: They would so defeat these five kingdoms, that not a single man would be left standing. No, Not One! So, Joshua went to the aid of the kingdom of Gibeon. Joshua fought these five kings, who attacked his friends. Standing on the promise of God, Israel prevailed!
But, the battle was long, and took most of the day. And, some of the soldiers from the five kingdoms, when they knew they were losing started to run off and hide in the twilight of nightfall. Joshua said that this thing cannot please God, because God said any man who makes war against the friend of Israel this day would be slain.
The ‘reality’ of Joshua’s life was he couldn’t find the cowards, hiding in the shadows of nightfall. Joshua’ reality was that his enemies were using darkness to escape the punishment of God. What could Joshua do? I’ll tell you what could do: He could pray, and change his reality. Verse 12 says that Joshua, with the power of God on his life, prayed “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.”
What? Joshua, a man made out of the same stuff as you and me, was telling the Sun in the sky to stand still. To stop moving? To do something it has never done before? To stop doing what God designed it to do” He spoke to the Moon and told it to hold its place in the heavens, until he had destroyed the enemies of God. Amen!
And verse 13 says, ‘And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.’
Joshua changed his reality with the power of prayer. But don’t stop with Joshua, how about Elijah?
James chapter 5 tells us that he was built out of the same stuff that you and I are made of. He lived in a world which had not the fear of God before their eyes. Sin ran rampant in the streets and synagous. Evil grew stronger day by day. What could Elijah do? I’ll tell you what he could do, he could pray! And he did pray!
But, because of the sins of the people, he prayed earnestly that God would withhold rain from the earth. And what do you think happened? The God that hears and answers prayer, heard and answered his prayer. For the space of 3 ½ years, not a single drop of rain fell on the earth. After 3 ½ years of trying to do things their own way, the people came to their senses and repented of their sins. Then, once again, Elijah prayed. But this time he prayed that God would send rain to the earth. What do you think happened? The God that hears and answers prayer, held and answered his prayer…and it rained.
Moses, Joshua and Elijah changed their reality. How did they do it? By doing what they could do…thru prayer!
And so did the widow of Luke 18. And, she even had four strikes against her:
· Strike one, she was a woman in a man’s world.
· Strike two, she was a widow and didn’t have a man to represent her needs.
· Strike three, if she had children they were nowhere to be found in her hour of need.
· And Strike four, the one person who could help her, was an unjust man, who didn’t care about other people.
So what could she do? Give up? Write her congressman? Boycott the city? Die? She did none of these things. Instead, the Bible tells us that she did the one thing that all Christians are called to do: changed her reality!
Luke 18: 3 tells us that this woman, with four strikes against her, went to the unjust judge and said, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.’ Apparently, someone had done her wrong, and she wanted the judge to make it right. But her reality was that the this unjust judge didn’t give a hoot about her or her problem. His world revolved around himself. But, instead of giving up, giving in and taking what this judge had to dish out, this widow went to him again, and again, and again, and again… And she didn’t stop going to him until he gave her exactly what she wanted!
Look at verses 4 and 5: “And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, (he was too embarrassed to admit it out loud) Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
The Bible says that
· instead of being broken, she broke him!
· Instead of giving up, she made him give in.
· Instead of discouraged, she was encouraged, because she was steadfast and unmovable in her request: “Avenge me mine adversary!”
Christian Friend, when it comes to prayer, we’re not praying to an unjust Judge. We’re not going to a Person Who doesn’t care about others. We’re not approaching a Judge Who is troubled by our continual coming. Just the opposite. When we pray, we’re praying to a Just, Righteous and Fair God. When we pray, we’re going into the throne room of a God, Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. When we pray, the only strikes we have against us are those that we haven’t confessed and put under the Blood!
Now, Jesus gave this parable for one reason and that reason is found in verse one: ‘That men ought to pray and not faint.’ (vs. 1)
· What The Church Needs Now, is to be a praying church, that knows how to change Its reality, in Jesus name!.
· What The Church Needs Now is to come together like Moses, Aaron and Hur, and touch and agree for the victory, in Jesus name!
· What The Church Needs Now is to speak to our problems and tell them to stand still, like the Sun…to flee like the devil, and to lie down and be our footstool, in Jesus name!
Christ gave this parable to the disciple because he knew that they and we, would ‘faint’ in prayer. He knew that they, and we, would quit praying when our arms or knees got tired. He knew that elements, even nature itself, would go against us. And, in His foreknowledge, Christ wanted to tells us not to faint… not to quit… not to give up….not to give in! But, instead, pray and change our reality!
So, what does the Church Need Now?
· The Church needs to pray.
· The Church needs to pray without ceasing.
· The Church needs to pray, speaking those things which are not as if they were.
· The Church needs to pray, touching and agreeing, in Jesus name
· The Church needs to pray
o in spite of sore knees and tired feet.
o In spite of hard days at work
o In spite of low turnouts for prayer meetings
o In spite of outside activities that look appealing
· The Church needs to pray for things so big, that only God can give it. Only God can do it. Only God can fix it.
· The Church needs to pray until God hears and answers their prayer!
This, according to Luke 18:8, is the measure of true faith. Take a look at what verse 8 says, ‘I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’
That’s a good question. When Christ returns, will He find a Church praying, or a playing? Will He find a Church full of the faithful, or full of faithlessness?
The test of faith in the arena of prayer is seen, NOT by praying for something one time, and then stopping. Faith is seen when we pray and keep praying, until our Just and Righteous Judge, gives us what we have asked for!
So, this morning, What Does The Church Need Now? The Church Needs to Pray. The Church Needs To Pray, until It has changed Its reality. The Church Needs To Pray Until the God that hears and answers prayer, hears and answers our prayer.
Let’s all stand as we extend this invitation.
What The Church Needs Now is to pray. So, how’s you’re prayer life? Is it so good that you can change your reality through the power of prayer? If not, don’t be discouraged. Be motivated. Motivated to change your prayer life, in Jesus name.
Where are you going to be this Wednesday night at 6:30, when the Grace And Glory church family comes together for prayer? At work? At play? At Home, watching TV? On the phone, gossiping with friends?
The church, our church, needs better than that. What Grace And Glory Needs Now Is Prayer! Prayer that changes our reality, in Jesus name! Because the God that we’re praying to is not unjust. He is Just, Righteous and Fair.
We pray to a God that hears and answers prayer, and so can you!