Sermons

Summary: This is number 6 sermon on the series on Christlike Praying and focuses on intercession for others.

STAND IN THE GAP FOR OTHER PEOPLE (INTERCESSION)

CHRISTLIKE IN PRAYER

Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:14

Objective: Teach people about intercession by defining it and by showing how God’s people can pray better. This message uses Paul as an example of intercessor.

Prayer is a Gift of God to His children. It is our way of coming to him – for fellowship, for direction, for refreshing – to be with our Father.

Prayer is a responsibility. We are called to prayer.

Prayer is a surrender – especially in times of crisis. The goal of prayer is to change God’s mind, but to change us – to make us surrender to God.

Prayer of Jesus for His disciples includes – protection, sanctification, and sending

Prayer is for transformation. God changes us as we pray.

Prayer is hard work, a self-giving. Intercession is the child of God’s – now a grown up, maturing, God-loving disciple, coming to God and getting involved in God’s work. One of those ways is intercession.

What is intercession? Intercession is simply standing between God and other people, by presenting the need of others to God. It is prayer in behalf of others. Some of the examples in Scripture, like those of Moses, involve pleading the case of another person, or group, or the whole nation. Moses’ was a great intercessor. He pleaded with God when the people, because of their stubborn rebelliousness, came very close to God’s judgment. We see Moses’ astonishing selflessness and the amazing statement that the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with a friend.

An intercessor is a mediator, a bridge-builder, a person “standing in the gap,” one, who, as it were brings god and man together, speaking for one to the other. Gordon MacDonald considers intercession, “The greatest single ministry, in my opinion, that the Christian is privileged to have. And perhaps the most difficult.” (MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World, 155).

This message is aimed at making us better intercessors of people. We read Paul’s example as an intercessor. There are three truths that we see in Paul, that made him , particularly- fellow disciples of Christ. Nowhere in Paul’s writings do we find a systematic exposition of prayer. He mentions prayer often. There are numerous exhortations to pray and there are numerous references to the prayers of Paul. Prayer is the heart of Paul’s thinking and practice. He moves easily from exhortation to a form of prayer and back again.

Today I want to focus on one of the recorded prayers of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:17- 3:13; Concerning intercession Paul’s example of prayer shows: HUMILITY, INTENSITY, AND THE MOTIVATION.

Under humility, I will speak about the reason we pray. Why pray? Why intercede. Why not just do it?

In intensity, I will focus on the wrestling that is involved in intercession.

In motivation, we will look at purpose – what result does Paul want to accomplish with his intercession.

1. WHEN SATAN HINDERS US WE RUN TO GOD IN INTERCESSION.

How do you know if it is Satan that hinders you?

Romans 15:22 – sometimes other commitments hinder us from doing other things. In this verse Paul’s commitment to preach the gospel in the eastern Meditteranean had prevented him from making a trip to Rome.

Galatians 5:7 – false teachings could hinder us from running the race.

Acts 16:6 – God forbade (v. 6) and did not permit (v 7) Paul and his team from preaching in Asia.

Sometimes it is God who hinders us – Acts HUMILITY – PRAYER IS A DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE. The reason we don’t pray is because we do not really believe that we are completely dependent on God. If we do, then we would pray.

Yet they could not because Satan blocked them. Satan is real. He is called “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV) and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2 NIV). What exactly blocked Paul and Silas from returning to Thessalonica—opposition, illness, travel complications, or a direct attack by Satan—is unknown. But somehow Satan had been able to keep them away more than once (Paul had wanted again and again to return, but each time had been prevented). The word “blocked” (enekophein) means “to cut into or break up,” as destroying a road or a bridge, or to block the progress of an army. Road blockade – (Israel and Lebanon war – roads and other infrastructures have been destroyed. The Thessalonian believers must have known what Paul was talking about, so Paul gave no further details.

Spiritual warfare exists. Satan and God are constantly at war. Satan actively works to keep people from accepting Christ. He also works to hinder God’s people from doing kingdom work. Some of the difficulties that prevent believers from accomplishing God’s work can be attributed to Satan (see Ephesians 6:12). Satan will bring sexual temptation on those who lack self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5). He will bring in false teaching to lead believers astray (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan can even disguise himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT). Satan will also attempt to hurt the community of believers through persecution (1 Thessalonians 3:1–5). While God is more powerful than Satan and sometimes intervenes and overrides, he does not always do so. Therefore, Christians must be vigilant and faithful to Christ.

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