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The Refreshing Power of Prayer | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2021 3:00 am

The Refreshing Power of Prayer | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 13, 2021 3:00 am

God gives us prayer for our own good. The question is: Why don’t we pray more often? In this podcast episode, “The Refreshing Power of Prayer,” Pastor Greg Laurie gives us guidance on praying with passion and persistence from Matthew 20. It’s the first message in Refresh: What Every Christian Needs to Know, a brand-new series from Pastor Greg.

Notes

“Times of refreshment come from the presence of the Lord.” —Acts 3:19

You will be spiritually refreshed when you read and study the Bible.

You will be spiritually refreshed when you think of others more than yourself.

You will be spiritually refreshed when you help others.

How can you be spiritually refreshed? Spend time in God’s presence, study His Word, be generous, and serve others.

We don’t pray more because we don’t think we have the time.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at that Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

We don’t pray more because we don’t think prayer is that important.

We don’t pray more because we think that prayer doesn’t really work.

The primary objective of prayer is to align myself with the will of God.

Sometimes God says, “No.”

Sometimes God says, “Slow.”

Sometimes God says, “Go.”  

In a time of crisis they prayed, and so should we.

They prayed with passion and persistence, and so should we.

Their prayer was heard by Jesus. 

Unconfessed sin can hinder our prayers.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any wicked way in me.” —Psalm 139:23–24

Idols in our heart can hinder our prayers.

Unforgiveness in our heart can hinder our prayers.

Unbelief can hinder our prayers.

Prayer is the privilege of the child of God.

Scripture Referenced

Psalm 19:7

Proverbs 11:25

Proverbs 25:13

2 Peter 1:13

Philippians 4:6

Psalm 8:3–4

Psalm 50:15

James 4:2

Ephesians 6:18

Jeremiah 29:13

Isaiah 59:1–2

Psalm 66:18

Ezekiel 14:3

Mark 11:25

James 1:5–7

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website, harvest.org. So thanks for joining me for this podcast.

Right now, I think we all could. Let's pray together. Father, we ask You to speak to us now as we open Your Word, because we know it's alive, it's powerful, it's sharper than any two-edged sword, and we pray that You will bring encouragement, hope, and, yes, refreshment to everyone who is watching it wherever they are. We commit this time to You now in Jesus' name. Amen. tablet, go to Matthew chapter 20.

Again, the title of my message is The Refreshing Power of Prayer. Have you ever been out running in the hot sun and you're just sweating like crazy? I have to admit, it's been a long time since I've been out running in the hot sun. In fact, it's been a long time since I've been out running, period. The closest I get to running now is jogging my memory. But there are times when I have run and I've sweat a lot.

I know that when I'm playing racquetball, I'll run all over a court to chase a little ball. But just think about the last time you were exhausted, you were covered in perspiration, and maybe you dove into the ocean or into a lake or into a swimming pool. You went from hot and bothered to revived and refreshed.

And the same is true when you're really dehydrated and you take a long drink of very cool water. It just refreshes you. I love the word refresh.

It's such a perfect word to speak of starting again or returning to something. In fact, they even use that word for your computer. Sometimes I'm working on a computer and I've left it and I come back and things are sort of frozen or certain programs aren't working properly. So we're told to refresh our computer screen.

Sometimes that means you need to completely reboot. Well listen, in the Christian life, sometimes we need a reboot. Sometimes we need a refresh because we find ourselves hot and bothered.

We find ourselves tired and exhausted. But here's what Jesus says. He used some spiritual refreshment right now. The place to find that is from God Himself. Now the Bible is very specific about how we can find refreshment for our souls.

Here's a point if you're taking notes. Number one, you will find spiritual refreshment when you read and study the Bible. Because the Bible says in Psalm 19, the word of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. That's not always an emotional experience when you open up the Bible and read it.

But this is not about emotions. This is about replenishment. This is about restoration. This is about getting perspective on life and getting direction from the Lord. You're finding refreshment from the word of God.

Number two, listen to this one. You will be spiritually refreshed when you think of others more than yourself. You'll be spiritually refreshed when you think of others more than yourself. We think of ourselves as an influencer.

And sadly, we've heard stories of people who have literally died trying to get the ultimate selfie shot when they've been on the edge of a cliff or some other dangerous situation. But actually, the truth is when you stop thinking about yourself so much and think about others, it will refresh you spiritually. The Bible actually tells us that he who refreshes others will be refreshed himself.

So as you're giving to others, you'll find that you yourself are replenished. So do you want to be spiritually refreshed? Spend time in God's presence. Study the word of God.

Put the needs of others above your own needs and you'll find it will happen. You know there's a great verse in Proverbs 25, 13. It says reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks and sweltering heat. They're refreshing.

Would you let me be that friend too right now and offer you some perspective from God's word on how to be refreshed in your spiritual life? The word refresh means to give new strength or to give energy to. It means to reinvigorate. And sometimes what we need to do is refresh our memories. Because if you're like me, you forget things. I mean I forget things all the time.

Sometimes I forget where I park my car at a mall. Sometimes I forget other things and I need my memory refreshed. And even as a Christian, there are things that I know.

I've been a believer now for 50 years. I've read so many passages of the Bible but there are times I forget a passage or I forget a spiritual truth or I forget a lesson that the Lord has taught me. So I find I need to have my memory refreshed.

Here's the problem. I like to remember. There are things I want to remember and I'll forget them. And there are things I don't want to remember that I can't get out of my brain.

I think it's true for some of you too. Certain jingles that we've heard on the radio or television commercial songs that are still with us or theme songs to television shows. I mean why is it that I know all of the lyrics to the Flintstones TV show?

So here it is. Flintstones. They're the Flintstones. They're the modern Stone Age family. From the town of Bedrock, they're a case right out of history. Let's go with a family down the street through the courtesy of Fred's two feet. Remember how he got that old car going? Flintstones.

They're the Flintstones. Why do I know this? I never wanted to memorize that. But there's passages I'll forget from Scripture but I remember the lyrics to that story.

Song or weird songs I've heard on the radio. So I need to jog my memory. I need to refresh my memory. In fact Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1.13 I think it's right to refresh your memory as long as you live.

Alright so we're starting a brand new series that I'm simply calling Refresh. Things we must not forget as Christians. And in this message, the first in this series, I want to talk to you about the refreshing power of prayer. Am I talking to somebody right now who really doesn't know how to pray at all?

I mean think about some of the things we say to our kids. Ok kids. Say your prayers. Remember now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Is this a good prayer to teach to a child? Are you not saying to the child, now listen, you may die in your sleep tonight. And I just pray that God takes your soul.

Really? So we'll say, remember to pray. Remember to pray that prayer. Sleep tight.

And don't let the bed bugs bite. Oh you're going to traumatize your child. Now we don't need to teach our kids prayers. We need to learn how to pray. Do you remember the first time you ever prayed? It's kind of awkward. It's a little scary to pray out loud.

Especially in front of other people. But let me ask you this. Do you remember the first time that God answered your prayer?

How wonderful that was? In light of this, why don't we pray more often? Why do we put off prayer? Why do we avoid praying?

Well let me offer some observations about that. Maybe we don't pray more because we think we don't have the time. But is that really true?

Let me ask you this. How much time do you spend on social media every day? The latest research says people in the US check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts 17 times per day. That's once every day. Every waking hour teenagers spend nine hours every day consuming media. And you see people doing it constantly. They're walking across crosswalks with traffic on both sides. Looking at their phone.

Not even looking up. They go to a restaurant where apparently we're there to have a nice meal and socialize. And a whole family will be looking at their phones the entire time. This is missing the whole point. We can waste so much time doing it.

Imagine if you prayed 17 times a day instead of checking your phone. Someone put it this way. And I quote. One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.

End quote. How true is that? Then you factor in all the hours we spend binge watching television shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime or some other outlet. We can waste so much time. So don't say you don't have time to pray. The fact is you will make time for what matters to you.

Number two. Maybe we don't pray because we don't think prayer is all that important. Now we would never admit that outright but do we really think it's important?

I'm telling you it's very important. In the book of Joshua there is a story of the Israelites that were led out of the bondage of Egypt into this new land flowing with milk and honey. And you remember there was an obstacle in their path. It was the mighty city of Jericho. A huge fortress.

There was no way they could bring that down militarily. But the Lord said I'll give you that city. So they prayed and they called on God and He gave them the battle plan. Which I have to admit was pretty unorthodox. They marched around the cities, yell and blow trumpets.

But it worked. And the walls of this fortress crashed and they took control. After that there was another little city called Ai. Much smaller than Jericho. Not nearly as difficult to conquer. They didn't pray about that. They just said hey we took down Jericho.

Ai would be a piece of cake. And they went in and were soundly defeated because they didn't pray about it. We need to pray about everything. The Bible says in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

It doesn't say in some things or only in the big scary things. It says in everything by prayer and supplication we should pray. Maybe another reason we don't pray more is because well we don't think prayer really works.

Again we wouldn't admit that but that may be the case. We don't think it really works. But we have to understand what the objective of prayer is. It's not like God is a genie and He'll grant whatever wish we have. The objective of prayer is not to align God with my will.

It's to align me with His will. Speaking of genies I heard about a lady that was walking on the beach and she saw something embedded in the sand and she reached on to pick it up and it was a lamp. And as she rubbed it a genie appeared. This is a true story of course. And the genie said oh master I will grant to you one wish.

Whatever you want it will be yours. The lady said one wish. What happened to three wishes. He said you know we've had to cut back because of COVID.

Oh okay. I think sometimes people are blaming everything on COVID these days right. Oh yeah COVID we can't do three wishes right now. Oh wow one wish. She said hmm. She pulls out a map of the Middle East that she happened to be carrying with her and she said genie this is the Middle East and there's conflict in this part of the world all the time. My wish is for peace in the Middle East.

And then she said no let me change that. I'm going to go big if I only get one wish. I want worldwide peace. Global peace. That's my wish genie. I want peace in the world. The genie said that's kind of a big one.

I don't know if I can really do that. Do you have any other wishes. She said well I've always wanted to find one good man. A man that would love me. Who would compliment me.

Who would not sit around on the couch and watch sports and TV. Who would help me with the dishes and like the things that I like. Yes that's it genie. My wish is for one good man.

The genie looks at her for a moment and says get that map out again. So no God is not like a genie. He is a father in heaven. And the objective of prayer is not to get God to do what I want Him to do. It is to align my will with God's will. Jesus said this in John 15. If you abide in me and my words abide in you you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.

From the original Greek it would come out something like this. Jesus speaking. If you maintain a living communion with me and my word is at home in you I command you to ask it once for yourself whatever your heart desires and it will be yours. Now we immediately gravitate toward that latter part of the verse. Whatever my heart desires. Yeah.

But don't forget the condition. Jesus says if you maintain a living communion with me and my word is at home in you. Coming back to studying the Bible. If I am studying Scripture. Memorizing Scripture.

Understanding the message of the Bible. My desires are going to change and thus my prayers are going to change as well. So here before us now in Matthew 20 is two scenarios of prayer. And in this text we are going to find how to and how not to pray.

How to and how not to pray. In both of the stories Jesus asks the people before Him, What is it that you want? First we are going to look at a mother who had two sons. She loved them as mothers loved sons and daughters. And she was very ambitious for them. And she asked Jesus to give something to them that was completely inappropriate.

She stands as an example of how not to pray. In contrast we have another story of two men who were unable to see. They were blind. And they called upon Jesus. And the way they prayed give us an example of how to pray.

So let's start with how not to pray. Matthew 20 verse 17. Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. He took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, Behold we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes. And they will condemn Him to death and they will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and discourage and to crucify.

And on the third day He will rise again. Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons kneeling down and asking something from Him. By the way this mother's name is Salome.

And the sons here are James and John. And Jesus says to her, What do you wish? She said, Grant that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other on your left in your kingdom. Jesus answered, You don't know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am going to drink of and be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with? And they said, We are able. Jesus said, You will indeed drink My cup and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with. But to sit on My right and on My left hand is not Mine to give but it is for those that have been prepared by My Father.

Try to understand what is going on. Jesus is giving a detailed view of what is about to happen. Remember we just finished studying Revelation. And it is the unveiling of the future. Jesus was God walking among us. He knew the future.

He knew the thoughts of every person that He spoke to. And now He is saying, This is what is going to happen to me. I am going to be betrayed. I am going to be handed over to the Gentiles. I am going to be scourged. I am going to be beaten. I am going to be crucified.

And I am going to rise again from the dead. As He is sharing this with the disciples they are just not getting it. Because you see their view was that when Messiah came and Jesus was Messiah that He would establish an earthly kingdom then and there. They were mistaken in their understanding of the role of Messiah. Because Scripture clearly teaches first Messiah would come and suffer and die for the sins of the world. Then He would return again and establish His kingdom.

They missed the first part and only understood the latter part. So they thought He would drive out the Romans and they would rule and reign with Him in positions of great power. Hence the request from Siloam the mother of James and John. By the way James and John were given the nickname Sons of Thunder by Jesus.

You don't get a nickname like that for no reason. I think if they were alive today they would probably be outlaw motorcycle guys or something all tatted up. Kind of rough dudes I think. Don't forget on one occasion there was one city that the disciples went to and they weren't all that responsive to the message of Jesus. And James and John the sons of thunder suggested fire should be called down from heaven on the people who lived in that city. Jesus is like oy vey.

I didn't come to toast people but to save people. So you wonder how did they become the sons of thunder. Check out their mother.

Gives us a little hint. She says I want my sons James and John to sit on your right and your left hand when you come into your glory. They should be thankful God did not answer that prayer. Imagine if God came to you and said I will give you whatever you want.

Just ask for it. What would you pray for. That actually happened to Solomon when he was a very young man. He had ascended to the throne to rule over Israel now that his father David was gone. The Lord said ask what you want Solomon and I will give it to you. Solomon said well Lord I need wisdom to rule your people. The Lord said Solomon because you have not asked for riches or a long life or the death of your enemies I am going to give you the wisdom you prayed for and I am going to give you all these other things as well. Is that not the perfect example of what Jesus taught us when He said seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. So here now are James and John and their mother asking for this thing.

Understand how insensitive this was. What did Jesus just say? I am going to suffer and die. He said oh yeah ok whatever. By the way we want to sit on your right and left hand when you come into glory. This should be like someone saying to you wow I just came back from the doctor's office and I found out I only have two weeks to live. And then you say oh wow interesting.

Hey can I have your car and your house too. I mean what. That is exactly what they were doing.

And Jesus is saying to them hey do you know what you are even asking for. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am about to drink of. They said we are able. Their response should have been wait wait what is in the cup.

We want to know about the cup before we say we will. Years ago I was in the Philippines speaking and there is a delicacy over there called the balut. It is actually a duck egg. And inside of this egg is a partially formed duck some feathers a little beak and some fluid. And I was over at home of a missionary and there were a lot of people there and they said in front of everybody Greg we want to give you this balut to eat. And I said well what is that. And they said let us demonstrate and someone took the egg and they broke it open and I saw the ducks head and I saw the feathers and they are drinking the fluid and then they eat the egg.

Oh my goodness. And they said Greg now you need to eat the egg. I said I don't think I can do that. And then someone whispered in my ear if you don't eat the egg you will offend the people. I whispered back if I eat the egg I will throw up. I can't do it.

I just can't go there. I mean there are some things that you just don't want to eat. Some things you don't want to drink. What was the cup? Jesus was going to drink the cup of the wrath of God Almighty as the sins of the world would be placed upon Him. And He recoiled from this. You remember in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed to the Father. Father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless not My will but Yours be done. So He says to James and John, You want a drink of the cup? Yeah yeah. We are good with the cup. Give us the cup.

He is thinking you don't even know what you are asking for. What did Salome the mother and James and John want? She wanted her sons to be in the right and left hand of Jesus. Salome by the way happened to be standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. Who was on the right and left hand of Jesus?

Two criminals who were also crucified. I am sure at that moment Salome said, Lord thank You for not answering my prayer. As the great theologian Garth Brooks once said, Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Fact of the matter is all prayers are effectively answered. Sometimes God says no. Sometimes God says slow. Sometimes God says go.

Listen to this. If the request is wrong God says no. If the timing is wrong God says slow.

If you are wrong God says grow. But if the request is right and the timing is right and you are right God says go. So He said no to Salome and her two boys James and John the sons of thunder. Why?

Because He loved them. So listen if God has said no to your request recently don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. It actually could be a very good thing because God sees the big picture. That is how not to pray. Now let's talk about how to pray.

Here is a couple of guys who prayed in the right way. Go back to Matthew 20. Look at verse 29. As they went out of Jericho a great multitude followed Him. Behold two blind men sitting by the road when they heard that Jesus was passing by cried out saying, Have mercy on us O Lord Son of David. Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet and they cried out all the more saying, Have mercy on us O Lord Son of David. Jesus stood still and called them and said, What do you want me to do for you? They said, Lord that our eyes may be opened. Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes.

And immediately their eyes received sight and they followed Him. So here is Jesus still on His way to the cross. On His way to suffer.

And two guys are on the roadside. Here Christ is passing by. They call out to Him. Someone says, Shhh. Don't bother Him. He is busy.

He has things on His mind. And they call out even louder. Actually the word translated from the Greek would be they screamed. They screamed. I guess they believed that old adage. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Right? And Jesus stopped and He heard them and He answered their prayer. Isn't it amazing to think that God cares about us? I mean He cares about the things that concern us. David said in Psalm 8-3, When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, what is man that you should think of us?

Mere humans that you should care for us. I was in Hawaii recently speaking at our church there. And I went out very late at night and looked up in the sky. And I was stunned by how many stars I could see.

You just don't see that many stars here in California. Just incredible. Overwhelming. And to think my God, my Creator, my Father made all of that. Yet He cares about what I care about. God is never too busy or preoccupied to take time for you. Listen.

If it concerns you it concerns Him. So here were two men with a very real need and Jesus responded to the need. So what do we learn about prayer from this story?

Number one. In times of crisis they prayed and so should we. In their time of crisis they prayed and so should we. Listen. This is what prayer is for.

To put us in touch with God. Psalm 50 verse 15 says, the Lord speaking, call upon Me in the day of trouble and I shall rescue you and you will honor Me. Are you in trouble right now? Am I talking to somebody facing a crisis? You don't see any way you can resolve it. Maybe it's a family crisis. Maybe your marriage is coming apart. Maybe you have a prodigal child. Maybe it's a health crisis. You've gotten bad news from the doctor and you're scared.

Maybe it's some other kind of a crisis. Call on the Lord. The Bible says you have not because you ask not. Pray about the thing that is troubling you. I love what Ephesians 6 18 says. Paul writes, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

I love how Paul used that word all so many times. With all prayer and all perseverance for all the saints. The Texas translation would be, all y'all ought to be praying all the time. Y'all.

All the time. Praying about everything. This is what we need to be doing. They prayed with passion and persistence as well. Again, as I said, they didn't just say have mercy on us. They screamed the word out and that's how we need to pray as well. Just keep praying about the thing that is troubling you. Let me come back to some things we all ought to be praying for. When you're praying for the salvation of a loved one, you're praying according to the will of God.

Because the Bible says God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Keep praying for that person you care about. When you're praying for the restoration of a family, you're praying for the will of God. God has established the family, a man and a woman coming together in marriage, committed to one another for a lifetime.

He will bless this bond. This is why Satan is always attacking it and always trying to redefine it and to break it apart. The family is so important for the health of a nation. It's been said that a family can survive without a nation but a nation cannot survive without the family. Pray for the family but pray for your family.

Make sure your family is strong. Speaking of the nation, when we pray for a spiritual awakening in our country, we're praying according to the will of God. I'm speaking to Americans here but I know we have folks that watch us in Australia and Japan and the UK and Sweden and all over the place because you come.

In fact, right now there's a little comment section depending on how you're watching us right now but if you're watching on YouTube or Facebook or at Harvest.org, you can comment and I would love you to tell me where you're watching from right now. But wherever you are, whatever your nation is, pray for a spiritual awakening in your nation. These men called out to Jesus. Now it's interesting because another gospel identifies one in particular and his name was Bartimaeus. So there were two men praying but one was more noticeable than the other and it was Bartimaeus crying out and his prayer was heard by Jesus.

I love what we read here. Verse 32. Jesus stood still and he called them and said, what do you want me to do for you? They said, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. Jeremiah 29, 13, God says, if you seek me, you'll find me if you seek me with all of your heart. You bring your need to Jesus.

You watch how he will meet your need. Now there are things that can hinder our prayers and I wanna close with this. Sort of obstacles to prayer. Things that if we do these things, it can stop God from intervening in our life. So let's find out what these barriers are and get rid of them.

Here's one. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayer. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayer. Isaiah 59 says, the Lord's hand is not short that it can't stand. The Lord's hand is not short that it can't say.

His ear is not closed that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid his face that he will not hear. The psalmist says in Psalm 66, 18, if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

And the word that he uses there for regard means to hold onto or to cling to. So if there is a sin in your life that you have not confessed to God, confess it to him. You say, what do you mean confess? It means admit it. Confess means to agree with God.

To see sin for what it is. Stop rationalizing it. Stop justifying it.

Stop saying, well everyone is doing it. You know it's a sin. Ask God to forgive you.

We need to be forgiven by God on a daily basis as Christians. Here's another one. Idols in your heart can hinder your prayers as well.

You might say, well I'm off the hook on this one. I don't worship any idols. Don't you? We might have some little object that we bowed down before. I doubt that, but some do. But an idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our life, you see. So a lot of things can become an idol. John writes in his epistle, little children keep yourself from idols. For some people their idol is their appearance.

It's all about the way that they look. They effectively worship themselves. You see them on Instagram doing this pose. I call it the pouting fish.

It's sort of like they hold their phone up and they go. Who came up with that? This is not a good look.

Stop doing the trout pout. It's not a good look. Just my thought. Okay, but some people worship themselves. Some people worship money. They worship their possessions. They worship the car they drive. They worship the house they live in. What do you mean worship?

I mean they're preoccupied with it and they think about that thing more than God himself. The Bible tells the story of a young man that came to Jesus. We call him the rich young ruler. Probably cruised up in a super cool lowered chariot holding a latte.

Oh, they didn't have lattes back then. He says, hey good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Almost as though he was saying, hey Jesus, your group of followers are kind of a ragtag bunch, are they not? What do you have, some fishermen?

A tax collector? Look at me. I'm a ruler and I'm rich and I'm young.

So this guy was probably in his 30s climbing his ladder. Very influential. It would be great to have me on your team. Here I am. What do I have to do to inherit eternal life? You would have thought Jesus would have said, come on in son, you're one of the team now.

Let's go. No, Jesus says, I'll tell you what. You need to keep the commandments and he quotes a few of the 10 commandments to this young man. And then the rich young ruler said in response, all these I have kept since I've been a young boy. If we would have read at that point and Jesus smacked them across the face it would have made sense.

What a joke. Kept all the commandments since he was a young boy. No one keeps all the commandments. There's only one man who ever walked the earth that kept all of the commandments and that was Jesus Christ. Because the fact is no one can keep the commandments. God gives us the commandments to drive us to Jesus. The commandments open my eyes and they shut my mouth and show me that I sin and I fall short of God's glory. But anyway, this young man says, all these I've kept from my youth up and I love how it then goes on to say and Jesus looked at him and loved him. He loved him.

He said, you're so cute. Look at you, arrogant young man thinking you've done it all. All right Jesus says, I'll tell you what.

Take all of your stuff, sell it, give it to the poor and follow me. And the Bible says that man went away sad because he had many possessions. You see, the problem with this young man is he worshiped things. Jesus didn't want his stuff. It's possible if the young man would have said, okay Lord, I'll do it. The Lord might have said, never mind. No, he said this to only one man in the Bible and that's because this man was ruled by his own possessions. As someone else he might say, if you want to follow me, break off that relationship that is pulling you down spiritually to another.

He might say another thing. But you see, the idol in that young man's heart was his stuff. Yes, idols can keep us from God.

Here's another one. Unforgiveness in your heart can hinder your prayers. Unforgiveness in your heart can hinder your prayers.

Mark 11, 25 says, when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. Notice it doesn't say if you have anything against anyone, forgive him if they deserve it. No, it just says forgive them because we've all been hurt by people, haven't we? You've been hurt by your parents perhaps? Hurt by your children? Hurt by your husband, your wife? Hurt by someone you thought was a friend who ended up betraying you? We've been hurt in life and the Bible teaches us to be tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven us. Listen to this. Forgiven people should be forgiving people and if you do not forgive, bitterness will creep in, eating you up inside.

It's been said, quote, bitterness is an acid that destroys its own container, end quote. Jesus on the cross said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. You say, oh, give me a break, Greg. That's Jesus. I'm not Jesus. No, you're not.

Nor am I. He was put to death for his faith in Christ. And what did he pray? He said, I see Jesus standing on the right hand of the Father. Then he said, Lord, don't lay this sin to their charge. Listen, you need to forgive for yourself so you can be free.

One last thing. Unbelief can hinder your prayer. Unbelief can hinder your prayer. James 1.5 says if you need wisdom, if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him and he'll gladly tell you.

He will not resent you asking, but when you ask him, be sure you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Yeah, pray for wisdom. Pray for provision. Pray for God's blessing and direction. And expect him to answer.

Expect him to answer. A lot of times we cancel our prayers out because we're filled with so much doubt. Now there's a teaching that would say whatever you want, you speak it into existence. You name it and you claim it. You gab it and you grab it and God will do whatever you ask him to do.

Thank God that's not true. And he'll overrule my requests, especially when they would hurt me. But having said that, there is a place for faith in prayer. So with as much faith as you can muster, bring your need to Jesus Christ. I love the prayer of that one man who said, Lord I believe, but help my unbelief. God will more than meet you halfway as you bring your need to him. Let me close by asking you this. Do you have a need right now? Do you need a touch in your body physically like blind Bartimaeus? Then call out to Jesus.

Do you have a child or a marriage that needs help right now? Then call out to Jesus. Don't give up. Pray.

Jesus said, knock and the door will be open. Keep knocking. Keep asking.

Keep seeking. Be persistent in your prayer. But again as I said earlier, prayer is only the privilege of a child of God. Oh sure anyone can pray a prayer. But if you want to have a prayer life, you need to be a Christian. Now sometimes you will hear it said, we are all God's children.

I know that sounds nice. But it is actually not biblical. I am sorry to tell you we are not all God's children. We are all created by God.

We are all loved by God. But we are not all by default children of God. To become a child of God, you need to be part of the family of God and to become part of the family of God, you need to be born into that family. So you are saying, oh you mean raised in a Christian home?

No not at all. I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I was raised in the opposite of a Christian home. No the way you join the family of God is by being born into it. Or maybe I should say by being born again into it. Because Jesus said you must be born again or literally born from above. You see you are separated from God by your sin.

All of us are. We have all broken God's commandments. We have all fallen short of God's standards. But 2000 years ago God loved you so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in your place. That is what Jesus was talking about in the story we read. That the Son of Man Himself was going to go and suffer and die for their sins and for our sins and for all of humanity's sins. So I am separated from God by my sin but Christ died for my sin. And if I will turn from that sin and put my faith in Him He will forgive me. So let me ask you, have you been forgiven of your sin? Is Jesus Christ living inside of you right now? The Bible says for as many as received Him He gave them the power to become sons of God. Being a Christian isn't just believing a creed or reading the Bible or going to church. Being a Christian is having Christ living inside of you. Is Jesus living in your heart and life right now? You might say well I think so.

I am not sure. If a family moved into your house at three o'clock in the morning and started cooking fish in your kitchen do you think you would notice? Now I am not comparing Jesus to a family moving into your house.

I am just saying if someone came into your house I think you would be aware of it and in the same way if God Almighty has taken residence in your heart you will know it and if you don't know it maybe that is because He is not there yet. Would you like to ask Jesus to come into your life? Would you like to be forgiven of your sin?

I began by talking about refreshment. Would you like to be refreshed? Again Jesus said, Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you. Are you burdened by your sin?

That can all change right now. Jesus is ready to step into your life and change everything. He will give you the meaning and purpose of life you have been looking for and then He will give you hope beyond the grave in the afterlife. He will give you the hope of heaven but you must ask Him to come and live in your heart right here right now. In a moment we are going to pray and I am going to extend an invitation for you to believe in Jesus Christ.

If you need Jesus to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, if you want this huge burden of guilt lifted off of you, if you want to find the meaning and purpose of your life then simply pray this simple prayer I will lead you in now. If possible bow your head. Maybe close your eyes. It would be great if you could pray this out loud. Maybe you are alone watching on a phone or a tablet.

Maybe you are in a room of people and you are watching it on a TV screen. Wherever you are, however you are seeing this right now, if you need Jesus pray this prayer out loud after me. Pray these words if you would. Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I also know that you are the Savior. Jesus I ask you to come into my life right now and forgive me of all of my sin. I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast and to learn more about Harvest Ministries please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to harvest.org. And by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God go to knowgod.org. That is k-n-o-w-g-o-d.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-05 01:21:28 / 2023-11-05 01:39:15 / 18

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