Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In this message we look at how to prepare our hearts for prayer. We talked about the importance of grace and surrender is. We also looked at how necessary forgiveness is.

Introduction: There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.

“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.

The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard throughout the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."

Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.

When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.

Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.

One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.

This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and ethical perfection--and throw their hands up in surrender. Why even try? They tell themselves. I could never live up to all that stuff

Others are like the student who read the test through and was aware of the professor’s offer but took the test anyway. Unwilling to simply receive God’s gift of forgiveness, they set about to rack up enough points with God to earn it.

But God’s grace truly is like the professor’s offer. It may seem unbelievable, but if we accept it, then, like the stunned students who accepted the professor’s offer, we, too, will discover that, Yes, God’s grace truly is free. All we have to do is… “Believe it’s real and accept it.”

I have opened up with this story because it lays the right foundation for us to become effective fervent prayer warriors.

Last week I started this series titled “War Room: The Power Prayer” based on the Christian movie about the power prayer titled… “WAR ROOM”

Last week… I talked about the growing chaos that we are witnessing not only in other parts of the world… But right here in the United States. But fear not… God promises to give all those who trust in him a sound mind and sound judgment.

While those who don’t trust God and rather put their trust in creation… Are given over to the darkening of their minds… for Scripture says: Rom 1:28-32 …since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Thus the question… How do we navigate through world that seems to be going insane around us?

And the answer to that question is… prayer! Now mind you, I am not talking about just any kind of prayer. I am not talking about the church liturgical prayers that are read out of the book or the wonderful prayers we all have memorized as a child but now pray without thinking.

Nor am I not talking about the random spontaneous dialogue prayers that we all throw at God throughout the day. Rather, I am talking about the heart felt intercessory prayers that we all do when our heart is deeply moved about something.

The movie “WAR ROOM” does a great job giving us a visual picture of what that really looks like in our day-to-day life. In fact, like I said last week, in one sense I believe this movie is very prophetic… In that it both highlights the importance and power of prayer… Especially in the coming days. We need to know that…

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