Summary: One way success is found is in praying for others, no matter how difficult life is.
“TARRYING AT THE THRONE”
As a pastor in the Free Methodist Church for nearly 18 years, and your pastor for the last 4½ years, it is time for me to come front & center regarding God’s will for our church.
I know there are a number of indicators that people use to gauge health & success in organizations such as government, businesses, schools, athletic teams and even churches.
For example, the Super Bowl has not yet been played, and already 7 NFL coaches have been fired from their jobs. The reason—they didn’t win enough football games this past season.
Put yourself in the shoes of California’s governor of a year ago. Regardless of your political affiliation, it would be a jolt to your emotional well being as an elected official to be told that the popular and electoral vote was no longer a guarantee to keep you in office. A re-call can lead to a
re-vote, which can and did lead to a new governor.
USC beat University of Michigan, 28-14, on January 1st in the Rose Bowl. Their coach, Pete Carrol, was hired only 4 years ago. He had been fired in the NFL 2x. (‘too soft’) He was voted ‘Coach of the Year’ by the NCAA in only his 4th year as head coach. (1st in 25y.) The history of coaches in recent years at USC had become so muddled and the rich history of success had been so forgotten, that the very first day of practice, this coach didn’t lead the team in grueling three-a-day practices. He drove them to a local beach for an all-day volleyball tournament & party. It was his first step in re-building a dynasty, of restoring the order of family-atmosphere. He is one coach who will be back next year. 13 coaches in Division 1-A have lost their jobs so far.
So where is security found?
Is it found in our team winning all of its games?
Or in winning the league championship?
Or in winning a major bowl game? (Means $13-17 million)
Is our business growing?
Are there more people?
Are there more and better products?
Is there enough money?
Is there a financial profit?
Are our shareholders satisfied?
Do we have a corner on the market?
Are we #1?
Somehow, to be anything less is not enough these days.
Somehow, we come up with our own game plans, hoping we find a higher level of success, which we bask in until the clock or calendar says again game time.
Is our church growing?
Friends, nowhere in the Bible is ‘church success’ defined by terms of attendance or finances. Nowhere is it defined by any number of staff pastors, programs, buildings, or years in one place. Nowhere.
Yet all these things can often build & spread the reputation of a church.
Somehow, the human heart is impressed with what is visible or, at least, measurable.
The colossal of whatever it is we value by our senses becomes our thermometer of success.
Somehow, our human spirit says there is something more to being a Christian, …or possibly less.
Somehow, the spirit of love radiating from the heart toward God and toward one another gets second billing.
Somehow, the spirit of Christ-like character, also called Christian Holiness or Perfection, is tossed aside as inconvenient or unnecessary. It gets second rating.
Somehow, the atmosphere of simplicity & contentment, of evangelism & mission is set aside as low priority. Back burner. Put it off until tomorrow.
Somehow, the atmosphere of the early church as seen in Acts, when ‘everyone was filled with awe’, is often lacking from today’s Christian experience. Acts 2.43
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Somehow, the best gauge of success, one that radiated from the life of Jesus, is the heart that bleeds simple prayer.
Jesus was the master student & master teacher of prayer.
In defending the highest purpose of the church—as both a people and a place—Jesus put it this way—
“Is it not written:
‘My house will be called
a house of prayer
for all nations’?”
The Bible is clear that God expects—even commands—His people to come to Him in prayer.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Ch. 7.14
We are to ‘devote ourselves to prayer’ even as the early church ‘devoted themselves to…prayer.’ Col. 4.2; Acts 4.42
We are to ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence,’
To pray continually…is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Heb. 4.16; 1 Th. 5.17-18
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” 1 Peter 4.7