Summary: New Year's Sermon or Challenge Sermon for the Church

New Years Day 2012

Acts 1:12-14

First Church – Jerusalem

Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Christ had just ascended to heaven – disciples went back to upper room and prayed.

I. Prayer

Prayer most important thing a Christian MUST do.

George Mueller – "I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming. Thousands and tens of thousands of times have my prayers been answered. When once I am persuaded that a thing is right and for the glory of God, I go on praying for it until the answer comes. George Mueller never gives up!"

Romans 15:30 – Paul said, "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive (synagônizomai – We get our word "agonize" from this word) together with me in your prayers (Proyooskai – earnest prayers) to God for me; (little boy being carried out of church – "ya'll pray for me, ya hear?" He wanted "earnest prayer).

Become complacent in prayer (same prayer at meals, bedtime, over and over).

Paul said in 1Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."

This has to do with an attitude of prayer. I don't think this means that one is to stay on his knees all the time. But it means to pray regularly and to be constantly in the attitude of prayer.

Associated with that is this fourteenth commandment --

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Thessalonians 5:18

Jesus told the church at Ephesus that "Thou hast left thy first love." How did that happen. First and foremost by a lack of communing with God. You husbands and wives try to maintain a good healthy relationship by not talking to one another and see how it works out. Parents, you try and keep the respect of your children and not communicate with them and see what happens.

When we ignore our prayer time and take it for granted, and it becomes second, third or fourth place in our lives, it can do nothing but go downhill from there. And then we wonder, "Where is God when I need Him? Where has He gone?"

Some people pray and think that's all there is to the Christian life, but there's more!

II. Preparation

Acts 1:21-26 – Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

They knew that Jesus had told them that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them and they were waiting for that to happen. But in the meantime, they also knew that there was work to be done. Work that could only be done by them. They had to prepare themselves as best they could in order to carry out Christ's mission properly.

The first thing they did after prayer was to prepare. First they had to get another disciple to replace Judas Iscariot. But notice; they prayed through their preparation. They never lost sight of the fact that in order to properly prepare, they had to pray about it.

We have pastors coming out of seminaries (cemeteries) with big plans about how to make a church better. Things they learned in school. Well, if the school said it was OK, it must be OK! They neglect prayer and when they try to implement their fresh new ideas, they fall flat on their faces. Why? Because they didn't pray through the preparation process.

Our Vacation Bible School is a success here at Dorcas ONLY because we start praying months in advance. All through the preparation process people are praying for guidance and that children will be saved. We've even had some adults saved in our VBS classes. It's not because of the curriculum we use, it's because people care enough to pray for the school months ahead of time.

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