Sheldonville Baptist Church
May 8, 2022
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        Sunday school

        March 27, 2022 - 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
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        Bible Study

        March 28, 2022 - 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
      • Bible Trivia
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        Sunday school

        March 27, 2022 - 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
      • Download

        Bible Study

        March 28, 2022 - 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
      • Proverbs 1:7–9NKJV

  • This Is The Day
  • He Has Made Me Glad
  • Surely Goodness And Mercy
  • Since Jesus Came Into My Heart
  • Shout To The Lord
  • Come Into His Presence
  • Majesty
  • Introduction
    One of the more iconic, enduring portraits in all of christendom is the picture of a praying mother or grand mother. Even if you did not directly benefit from the intercession of your own mothers, we have all benefited more than we realize from the intercession of mothers in general. Their requests have brought spiritual and physical blessings that we enjoy.
    But, as we look around the spiritual landscape of the 21st century, the image of the praying mother is becoming something of fuzzy, out of focus portrait relegated to the annals of history like so many family photos in a physical photo album.
    And that is not an indictment on mothers but on believers in general. Prayerlessness is a very real issue in the lives of most believers, and, I’d wager, in our lives as well. How many of us would say that we are satisfied with the time and tone of our own prayer lives?
    Transition
    It turns out the simple act of praying for someone else is not so simple. Jesus, addressed this directly in Luke 18 and in typical fashion, raised the bar rather than lowering it.
    Illumination

    A Command (Pray), Luke 18:1

    Luke 18:1 NKJV
    1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
    The word translated “lose heart” carries the idea of giving up. It implies giving up after you have started something but also includes giving up before you start something (which is just as real a way to quit as any other).
    There are many reasons we might give up on praying or on specific prayers:
    We lose courage - asking the God of the universe to do something for us is no small thing
    We lose endurance - God doesn’t always answer right away (we’ll come back to this thought)
    We lose passion - repetition may ingrain a habit or behavior but sometimes it does so at the expense of passion which, in turns, undermines the habit or behavior and causes us to stop
    We lose focus - you don’t have to have ADD or ADHD for this to apply to you; focus over protracted periods of time is difficult
    We lose interest - this can be both good and bad
    if it is something that we find we don’t really care about and there’s no reason we should care about it, then not praying for it is natural, maybe even good, since sometimes we ask amiss
    if it is something that we find we don’t really care about but there are reasons that we should, then not praying for it is not good

    A Complication (Pushback), Luke 18:2-8a, Mark 7:24-30

    If, you have been beginning to fear that prayer is something that requires discipline and endurance rather than being a momentary whisper heavenward, than allow me to confirm your fears.

    The Pushback of Delay, Luke 18:2-8a

    Jesus begins with a parable known as the Woman and the Unjust Judge.
    Luke 18:2–5 NKJV
    2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”
    This particular parable always give me pause because God is pictured here by a judge who is not just and who responds only out of being tired of hearing this request. I mention it because you might find yourself in a similar situation, wondering how you can reconcile this image to God as you understand Him. If you figure it out, let me know; it is one of the ways that God reveals Himself to me that I have been unable to reconcile to the other ways He reveals Himself to me. BUT, I do not approach God with the belief that I can fully comprehend Him, so this seemingly irreconcilable revelation does not trouble me greatly and should not undo your faith.
    That said, Jesus reveals His purpose in sharing this parable.
    Luke 18:6–7 NKJV
    6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?
    God will answer our prayers, even though His answer may be delayed. Jesus goes so far in verse 8 as saying, “He will avenge them speedily”. The caveat being that God’s sense of time and timing tends to be significantly different than ours.

    The Pushback of Disagreement, Mark 7:24-30

    Delay is not the only, or even the most difficult, form of pushback we might experience from God. This is communicated vividly in an episode that played out in Mark 7.
    Mark 7:24–27 NKJV
    24 From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. 25 For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
    We live in a day when people dress up little dogs in cute outfits and carry them wherever they go, so we tend to miss the impact of what Jesus said to this woman. In Israel, the term dog was used to insult someone and identify them as an outsider, at best, or an enemy, at worst. Talk about pushback!
    While the significance of what Jesus said was not lost on the woman, she also was not taking no for an answer.
    Mark 7:28 NKJV
    28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”
    Her response is as wise as it is tenacious! She essentially reminded Jesus that even outsiders and enemies would benefit from God’s goodness to Israel. If you have ever heard something like that, it might have been from something we know as the Abrahamic Covenant.
    Genesis 12:1–3 NKJV
    1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
    Sometimes, when God pushes back, it is both acceptable and appropriate to remind God of what He has promised you. Which means you will need to know what He has promised you.
    How did Jesus respond to this woman’s brazen assertion that she was relying on God to fulfill His promise?
    Mark 7:29–30 NKJV
    29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.

    A Question (Prioritize), Luke 18:8

    Returning to our original text with the understanding that our prayers may, and probably will, face some pushback from God, we find Jesus concluding His thought with a question that should help us focus our attention and prioritize our effort.
    Luke 18:8 NKJV
    8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

    Will He really find faith?

    Jesus hits on another reason we sometimes give up on praying: we lose faith - we stop believing that God is willing—or worse, able—to answer our prayers.
    If we are willing to be honest, this notion of our prayers facing pushback can be a bit demoralizing. We want prayer to be easy and instant; and it just isn’t. Do we have enough faith to keep at it anyway. Jesus has promised there will be an answer, and that should give bolster our faith and enable us to continue praying.

    Will He really find the faith?

    In Greek, this question includes the definite article “the”. When Jesus returns will really find “the faith” on the earth? What is the faith?
    Jude 3 NKJV
    3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
    “The faith” is that body of beliefs whereby we know God and are reconciled to God through the person and finished work of Jesus Christ and are able to share God with others so they may also be reconciled to God. It is the Scriptures and it is everything we understand about the Scriptures that makes them so real and so relevant that we could not live without them and certainly would not want to die without them.
    This question really raises the bar of importance on prayer and it shows that Jesus understands our greatest, deepest, most earnest prayers for others always concern the salvation and spiritual life of those for whom we pray.
    If that is true of anyone (and it is), it is even more true for mothers and grandmothers who pray passionately for their families.
    Conclusion
    I think there are probably two responses we might have to this.
    Does it work?
    It seems like a lot of work!

    As to the first response, does it work?

    Mark included the result of the mother who made a request of Jesus and then had to overcome His pushback: her daughter was freed of the demon that possessed her.
    We could also look at the numerous examples of people who have prayed faithfully and received their requests. Many of you know Diane, we have prayed for her and her family in this difficult time they face.
    What you may not know is that Diane got saved many years ago and has prayed faithfully for her husband’s salvation for the last couple of decades. When dementia started to set in a couple years ago, it seemed as though his window of opportunity to receive Christ had closed. But about 6 weeks ago, he woke up with more mental clarity than he had had for a long time and told Diane that he wanted to get this Heaven thing sorted out. They met with Pastor DiVietro and he received Christ. He slipped back into dementia and last week slipped down the stairs, hitting his head at the bottom. He died on Thursday and went to Heaven. So, yes, it works.

    As to the second response, it seems like a lot of work!

    I get that some of you hearing this are immediately facing your own insecurities and inadequacies. You have performance anxiety that causes you to think that God is displeased because you are not doing enough…again. If you are a believer, than God is your heavenly FATHER, not your heavenly referee.
    You are saved because God through Jesus saved you; you could not save yourself.
    You are kept because God keeps you; you cannot keep yourself.
    Prayer is a conversation with your heavenly Father. Not a box to check. Sure it takes effort and discipline to have a conversation with your heavenly Father, but no more than it does to have any other conversations you conscientiously maintain with other people. Don’t let the notion of effort be a smokescreen that hides the wonder of relationship.
    Application
    The command to pray generally faces the complication of pushback but also the prioritizing question, “will Jesus find faith?” which could be just as readily “will we pray?” It’s a question only you can answer and a conversation only you can have.
      • Luke 18:1NKJV

      • Luke 18:1NKJV

      • Luke 18:2–8aNKJV

      • Mark 7:24–30NKJV

      • Luke 18:2–5NKJV

      • Luke 18:6–7NKJV

      • Mark 7:24–27NKJV

      • Mark 7:28NKJV

      • Genesis 12:1–3NKJV

      • Mark 7:29–30NKJV

      • Luke 18:8NKJV

      • Luke 18:8NKJV

      • Jude 3NKJV

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