Summary: This sermon tells us that our priorities should be on prayer, praise and people - all in God’s context, not on the world in all its sin and devestation.
In a two-day period of time in New York City, a homeless man, a train maintenance worker and a dog were killed on the subway tracks. Ninety people called the Transit Authority to express their concern about the dog, but only three called about the worker and nobody called about the homeless man.
A young man in a Navy uniform got off the bus in Port Authority in New York City and began to walk, taking in the sites but having no definite plans to go anywhere. He passed by an alley and was hit on the head and knocked out. In broad daylight, the criminal then proceeded to rob him of all his money.
The young man came to with a very bloody head, a bloodied uniform and a young cop kneeling beside him making sure he was okay. There was a crowd around, but they were at a distance of about 15 feet. He found out from the cop later that they had stayed there the whole time, but didn’t approach, because they “didn’t want to get personally involved.” The cop took a report, then took the sailor back to Port Authority and purchased a bus ticket from his own pocket back to the sailor’s base. That is a true story. I know, because I was that sailor.
Is this how America started out? Did all the pilgrims go out of their way to avoid getting involved when others had troubles? Did the early settlers turn the other way when their neighbors came under heavy troubles? I don’t believe that. I think that America had a very loving and helpful heart, but somewhere in the 20th century, we became so self-absorbed that we all but write off our fellow citizens in their time of need.
I think it is plain to everyone that this nation has got her priorities all messed up! But that problem is not just with society in general. It is wide spread in the church, too! The church of today needs to take a very careful look at her priorities.
I heard a pastor of a large local church once say that if anyone in the church wanted him to go to the hospital to pray for a family member, he would ask them why they don’t do it instead. It was very plain that this pastor did not want to get involved. He wanted to stay on the outside, pretending to be on the inside of God’s kingdom.
What do you think the church is here for? What do you think you are here in this church for? We need to start asking ourselves some very hard questions, all to see where our real priorities in life are.
We spend much time talking about revival and some of us even spend time praying for revival, but I sometimes have to wonder how many of us have revival as a priority. If we don’t understand where we are in God’s kingdom, and if we never spend any time or energy trying to examine ourselves to find out where we stand, I have a hard time believing that God will honor us by listening to, or answering, our prayers about anything.
I had a chief in the Navy that used to say he was going to change things, and he was going to start with one of us. His point was that when things need changing, it always starts with one person. So, if today’s church needs changing and refocusing, I believe it can all start with each one of us in this church this morning.
There are three ways I think will bring about the fastest; the most Godly; and the deepest change in our church, in our community and in our lives. The first is -
1. HAVING A PRIORITY OF PRAYER
Now, we all say that we pray and that we believe in the power of prayer, don’t we? We even quote scriptures such as MATTHEW 7:7-8
‘Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: 8) For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened’.
In JOHN 14:13-14, it says,
‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’
Now, we could go on and on picking and choosing verse after verse that substantiates the need for, and the power of, prayer. But, I have to be honest. I love to pray. I try to spend as much time as I can in prayer, even when I am driving, working, etc.
But, I still do not pray as much as I should. I recognize that prayer is one of the greatest needs in my life, and it is a priority, but what happens is that most of the time, I can even be in prayer and something will happen and my thoughts instantly and totally forget all about prayer.