Summary: The doctrine of omniscience teaches that God knows everything that is going to happen. Yet there are times that He speaks to us about different possibilities for life, and in particular this morning He teaches us that prayer can affect your future.
PPT 1 Message Title
(Note to Pastor's in preparation for this message I prepared a notebook, and on the front cover it said: My Life 2016 unedited version. I used it as a visual aid in parts of this message. Simple to do, powerful effect.)
PPT 2 Text
Mt 24:20 "But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;
Mt 24:21 for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.
It is not my intention this morning to explain this passage and its meaning, that is for another day. What I want to do is look at a very important spiritual principle that it lays out, which is simply that from our perspective the future is not set in stone and can be altered.
The doctrine of omniscience teaches that God knows everything that is going to happen. Yet there are times that He speaks to us about different possibilities for life, and in particular this morning He teaches us that prayer can affect your future. This is important as we stand on the threshold of a new year, and survey the landscape ahead.
I have a small notebook here with a front cover that says:
I want to use this to help you conceptualize the power of prayer and the possibilities of prayer.
By unedited version I simply mean that there is a future laid out for us that will happen, unless something is done to change that future.
In the passage we cited in Matthew, Jesus basically said the future can be very very bad or that difficulty can be mitigated and you can make what will happen be under better circumstances, and easier to endure.
Here is what Barnes says in his commentary on this passage:
"Ver. 20. But pray ye, etc. The destruction was certainly coming. It could not be prevented. Yet it was right to pray for a mitigation of the circumstances, that it might be as mild as possible. So we know that calamity is before us; sickness, pain, and bereavement, and death, are in our path; yet though we know that these things must come upon us, it is right to pray that they may come in as mild a manner as may be consistent with the will of God. We must die; but it is right to pray that the pains of our dying may be neither long nor severe. "
I also believe there are life events that can be completely avoided, and all suffering dissipated because of prayer.
Imagine if you will that this notebook contains your year ahead. Everything that will happen to you, and to those in your circle of knowledge. Your family, your friends, your coworkers, your city/state/country, our world.
If you could get a sneak peek at the book do you think you might want to make a couple changes?
Ah look here at page 92, it says it will be your worst day of the year. Ephesians 6 hints at such a day: Eph 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Did you see the phrase, "the evil day"? One day in 2016 will be your worst day of the year, Ephesians 6 talks about being in the best spiritual shape and readiness for such a day, but I believe the text in Matthew 24 teaches we can avoid or change the severity of that day.
What if praying today about page 92 could make it disappear or less difficult, wouldn't you do that? Isn't that the very thing Jesus was telling the people of His day prayer could do?
In fact it is a principle Jesus taught over and over again:
PPT 3 Text
Mt 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mt 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.
In page 219 of your year ahead, is the day you will experience temptation in a greater way than any other time of the year. Isn't Jesus teaching that prayer can keep you safe in the hour of temptation?
Page 219 says (unedited version) "Great pressure came upon you to disobey the Lord in this area:__________. You blew it and yielded.
Is it possible that prayer could make an addendum to page 219? You were going to blew up, but the prayers you prayed provided extra grace and you didn't make the mistake you would have.