Inter-Community Church of God
May 30, 2021 Service
      • Psalm 29GODSWORD

  • Results of God’s Love

    In this letter of 1 John, we have spent a few weeks looking at changes in our lives that help us to be more and more conformed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These are the changes that create new life because of the Love of God, poured out to us through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the debt of sin we cannot pay so we can become, truly, the children of God. Of course, I need to remind us of a favorite key verse in 1 John 3:1-2, which I really like in the New International Version:
    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
    That reality, that we are children of God because of the love of God should drive us to want to be more like the Son of God. That’s our goal in Christian life. So we talked about
    Our needs met in Jesus Christ.
    What it means to know God.
    Loving like God’s Children.
    Believing like God’s Children.
    Behaving like God’s Children,
    and Living like God’s Children.
    Today we will look at the Prayers that God Answers, and next week the expression of God in three persons, which we call the Trinity.
    >>>So lets get this started today with some. . .

    Basic Things About Prayer

    Prayer is vital to the life of a faithful person. It is important to a person in trouble. It is our means of confession and forgiveness. Prayer puts us in touch with the holy God because of our our Lord Jesus Christ.
    That means that when we pray, things happen. But it turns out not everyone really likes what might happen when we pray.
    Like the house where someone named Martha goes shopping at Hobby Lobby and brings home a plaque that says “Prayer Changes Things”. She proudly puts it on the wall by the dining room table.
    Well, when Martha got up the next morning, the plaque was turned over so it faced the wall. Martha asked her husband: Mitch, what happened to that plaque? Did you turn it over?
    Mitch answered, “Yes, I turned it over.”
    Martha asked, “But don’t you believe in prayer?”
    Mitch said, “Sure I do! And that’s the problem. Prayer changes things. I turned it over because I don’t like change.”
    Well, one of the results of God’s love is that his love makes it possible for us to connect with him through prayer. That’s amazing when you think about it. We can connect to the Creator God through prayer because God wants us to connect with him. That’s one really amazing thing about prayer. God want us to be in conversation with him in prayer.
    Now, I want you to think about God as you think about prayer. First, think about this: Every answer to prayer is something God could have done without us saying a word or thought in prayer. That’s because it is God who is at work. We pray because what we pray for is something we cannot do ourselves. We need God.
    So here is the second really amazing thing about prayer: When we pray, God allows us to be a partner with him in his creation. When God answers our prayers, he is responding to our prayers with his love. And Yes, God answers our prayers.
    But there is something else we have to think about if we think about God before we think about the power of prayer: God doesn’t have to do what we ask. God will not go against his own nature because of our prayers. Our God is a God of miracles, but when He does miracles he is essentially breaking his own physical laws.
    Our God is God almighty, Creator King of the Universe, and we don’t have him under our control because we pray. God is God. We are His creation.
    >>>Still, there are things God wants to give us, and he wants us to ask. That is because prayer is us admitting that we need God; we are dependent upon him. So I want to teach about

    Prayers that God Answers

    We find out that there are some things that God wants us to pray for. And in 1 John 3 and 1 John 5 , we find out a little about the kinds of prayers that God answers.
    Now, we have some verses here that are favorite verses about prayer, but they are verses that we don’t always use or understand correctly. This gets me to an important thought about interpreting the Bible that is very true about some verses about prayer:

    It Is Possible to Literally Get the Bible Wrong By Reading Some Bible Verses Literally.

    How can that be? Some of us have studied verses in detail and even done extensive word studies to get the exact meaning of a single word in a Bible verse. But that kind of myopic focus can cause us to forget one of the most important things to remember about Biblical interpretation and understandings:

    The context is always important.

    You must be careful about what surrounds a verse. Our favorite verses or phrases were not written in isolation. We have to read the whole verse, the the whole chapter, the book, the Testament and the whole Bible to truly understand any Biblical phrase or verse. That can change what we think a verse means by a lot.
    Gathering some of the context of our verses in 1 John on prayer, we can discover how a single phrase in a verse must not be taken out of its context.
    >>>Here is a favorite verse on prayer, in the translation of the English Standard Version, which is similar to what we are used to reading in the King James Bible and most of its later editions:
    1 John 3:22 ESV
    22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
    You are probably all familiar with that first phrase in verse 22:
    “Whatever we ask we receive from him.”
    All through my Christian life I have heard that phrase used in isolation in order to encourage me to ask God for anything and by asking I will get it.
    >>>And then you pair that with
    1 John 5:15 ESV
    15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
    and you have a pair of verses that are used and misused, out of their context, by many Christians. And also used in fiery and earnest sermons about prayer by way to many preachers who have gotten excited about these promises of prayer and have not studied the context, or the setting, of these verses, a verse in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus is recorded as saying:
    Mark 11:24 ESV
    24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
    and a couple verses from the Gospel of John.
    John 11:22 ESV
    22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
    John 14:13 ESV
    13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    John 16:23 ESV
    23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
    The teaching goes something like this: If you want God to answer your prayers, no matter what it is, all you have to do is believe that you have already received what you are asking God to do.
    No matter what you ask. No matter why you ask. No matter how you ask. Apparently, God is now required to be your Sugar Daddy and just give it to you. Doesn’t matter if you deserve it or have met any requirements. Ask, and God has to give it to you. And that makes God beholden to our whims, not His purposes. That is not participating with God in His Creation, it is demanding God create things for you because you want them.
    I’ve had far to many immature drivers cut me off in traffic while they are driving $65,000 vehicles they got from parents to believe that is a good idea. So I’m pretty sure that’s not what God thinks is a good idea either.
    >>>We are going to look at the context of the prayer verses in 1 John 3 and 1 John 5. So we’re taking a look at the Prayers that God Answers and why he does, according to the immediate context of 1 John. Prayers that God Answers are

    Prayers From Those Who Do What Pleases God

    So back to 1 John 3:21-22:
    1 John 3:21 ESV
    21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
    These verses tell us that there are some conditions if we are going to ask and receive what God wants to give us.
    >>>First, in verse 21, we have the teaching from John that says God is ready to answer. . .

    Prayers From a Clean Heart

    I would define that clean heart as one without guilt. This is the first condition for prayers to be answered, as we look at the context of the promise of answered prayer.
    In verse 21, “If our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God” speaks of a clean heart. Not a selfish heart, not a sinful heart, but the heart of someone who knows they are saved, who knows they are forgiven of any and all recent sin, who have sought the forgiveness and cleansing of heart.
    That is the purpose of what we already have been taught often from
    1 John 1:8–10 ESV
    8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
    How we live our daily lives is important to God. We should examine ourselves as we pray, so that we will have nothing hindering us from receiving what God wants to give us. Don’t think you can fool God about your thoughts and behavior. You don’t get to decide if you have excuses for sin. Don’t think that God just looks the other way because Jesus already died on the cross for your forgiveness. God has paid a high price for our forgiveness. The death of his one and only son, Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sin. don’t take that for granted.
    In our practice of living before God with a clean heart, we have to walk in the light that God gives us.
    >>>The next condition for God’s answers to be released to us is that the Prayers God Answers are. . .

    Prayers From The Obedient Heart

    Or, from those who keep his commands.
    Here’s how it is listed in 1 John 3:22:
    1 John 3:22 ESV
    22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
    Now, I don’t want you to think that the commandments of God are unattainable or unreasonable. And they aren’t. God really does not want us to just give up living for him. What he wants is for us to give up living for ourselves. That means surrender to the perfect plan that God has for us. God has given us everything we need for life and salvation through Jesus Christ.
    Back in 1 John 1, obedience is walking in the light. In 1 John 2, obedience is keeping his commands:
    1 John 2:4–6 ESV
    4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
    Remember, Jesus broke down the commands of God into three important practices of love:
    Matthew 22:37–38 ESV
    37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.
    That’s #1. Love God with all you have.
    Then there’s #2:
    Matthew 22:39 ESV
    39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    So love God, love your neighbor, and then,
    John 13:34–35 ESV
    34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    Love one another.
    So let’s focus back on 1 John 3:
    Verse 21 says we need a clean heart. Verse 22 says we need an obedient heart. and verse 23 says,
    1 John 3:23 ESV
    23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
    God commands us to

    Believe in the Name of Jesus Christ His Son

    If we love the Father we will love the Son. It lines up with loving the Lord God with all we have.
    and he commands us to

    Love One Another

    If we love one another, we it lines up with the new command of John 13:34
    Loving God and loving whom and what God loves. That’s obedience. Yes, there are a lot of instructions along the way about what that means. But remember, God wants to answer our prayers. God wants to release his perfect blessings to us. If there is any pleading with God, it should be pleading that God would make our own hearts align with his heart so that we ask for what he wants to give us. In a minute we will look at the verses that show us that.

    Prayers That God Answers

    are really not hard to understand. They come from a clean heart. They come from an obedient heart. But there is more.
    Again, we have to be careful that we don’t literally get the Bible wrong by reading only some verses literally. We need the context of the whole Bible, but specially need to know what is right around the verses we rely on.
    For instance, if we take another verse in isolation,
    1 John 5:15 ESV
    15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
    We have another opportunity to get the teaching of the Bible wrong even if we get this verse right.
    You see, this verse is completely true. It is scripture. It is Bible. It is important to our faith and our confidence in prayer. But it does not stand alone. There are verses on both sides of it that are qualifiers.
    The Prayers That God Answers have other important limitations. These prayers come from a pure heart, that is forgiven and cleansed; from an obedient heart, that is a believing heart and a loving heart.
    But now we have to take 1 John 5:15 in its context, for here we will find one of the most important teachings I have for you this morning.
    Prayers that God answers are

    Prayers That Line Up with the Will of God

    This should be so automatic to our love for God that we don’t even think about it. Our problem comes because we love ourselves more than we love God. We still want to be in control, and we forget that we cannot be in control of God the Father. Not even Jesus assumed that he could ask the Father for anything, if it was not in his will. At the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “yet not my will, but Thy will be done.”
    Reading 1 John 5:15 out of context makes it seem like we have more rights to what God will do for us than Jesus did.
    >>>So let’s put it in the simple context of the verse that comes right before it:
    1 John 5:14–15 ESV
    14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
    There it is: IF we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL he hears us.
    And IF we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, THEN we know that we already have it.
    When our prayers line up with the will of God, it’s a done deal. As simple as that.
    If you don’t know for what you ought to pray, try a different approach first: pray that your heart will line up with the heart of God. Because when we line up with the heart of God, we line up with the will of God, and that makes it a done deal. Then we know he hears us, because whatever we ask will be what God wants to answer. That means that we can know we have what we have asked of him.
    This should not be a difficult concept. But so often it is missed in the desire to prove God answers prayer. You can’t read verse 15 without the context of verse 16.
    Another category of Prayers that God Answers are

    Prayers For the Soul of a Wayward Believer

    You see, God wants us to be a support for one another. That’s not entirely natural for us. We tend to focus on the problems in other people instead of the possibilities that God has for them. We will write off someone because of their sin, and that happens because of our own selfish sinfulness. We focus on someone else’s sin so we can seem to be better than they are in our own eyes.
    Jesus had something to say about that. Something about a speck of sawdust in their eye vs a stick in our our own. But if we love one another, as we are commanded, we will care more for the souls of our friends than about whether we are better than they are.
    Here’s how John puts it:
    1 John 5:16–17 ESV
    16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
    If our brother or sister has slipped into sin, then we need to pray that God will restore life to them. The wages of sin is death, and if we love our brother or sister in Christ, we want life for them. So we bring them before the Father. That God would enliven their conscience. That God would forgive their sin. That they would seek forgiveness and cleansing themselves.
    God is about bringing the dead to life. He wants that for me and he wants that for you. Jesus died so that we might have life. Lets put our prayers in the pavilion of life restored, not death confirmed.
    Yet John gives the caveat that there is such a thing as deadly sin. So don’t bother to pray for that; although every wrong is sin, not every sin is deadly. But how do we know?
    Well, we have some clues in the themes of this letter. Pray for the wayward, but not for the recalcitrant.
    Sin that leads to death would be sin that denies that Jesus is the Christ. Sin that leads to death would be sin that is not confessed because we try to keep it in the dark. Sin that leads to death would be the sin of hatred. If we hate those for whom Jesus died for any reason of race or culture or language or background, then we are denying that the Son of God died that they might have life. Sin that leads to death is sin that we refuse to admit is sin. Don’t make God out to be a liar. Don’t lie about your own sin and forgiveness. Believe in Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice for sin, confess and receive forgiveness and cleansing, and love those whom God loves.
    And finally, Prayers that God Answers are the

    Prayers of the Reborn Saints of God.

    Now, when we are under the blood of Jesus, we have been brought from life to death. When we have moved from the wages of sin to the halls of life, we are reborn into a new reality. And if we live in that reality, we will live in love, live in Christ and live in His righteousness.
    >>>Here’s what we have in
    1 John 5:18 ESV
    18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
    Everyone Born of God doesn’t keep sinning. Why? Because the Son of God, or “he who was born of God,” the one and only begotten Son of God, is our protector. That means that we have a clear channel between us and God when we are alive in Christ. And if we are alive in Christ, the enemy of God, the evil one, can’t touch us.

    Prayers that God Answers

    are —Prayers from those who do what pleases God, from a clean heart, and obedient heart, a believing heart, and a loving heart.
    They are —Prayers that line up with the will of God, for those things that God wants for us, and for those things that our fellow believers need. They are prayers that the wayward would find their way home again.
    God wants to answer our prayers. But he will only answer the prayers that are like what Jesus would have prayed for. Those are the prayers that God answers.
      • 1 John 3:22GODSWORD

      • 1 John 5:15GODSWORD

      • Mark 11:24GODSWORD

      • John 11:22GODSWORD

      • John 14:13GODSWORD

      • John 16:23GODSWORD

      • 1 John 3:21GODSWORD

      • 1 John 1:8–10GODSWORD

      • 1 John 3:22GODSWORD

      • 1 John 2:4–6GODSWORD

      • Matthew 22:37–38GODSWORD

      • Matthew 22:39GODSWORD

      • John 13:34–35GODSWORD

      • 1 John 3:23GODSWORD

      • 1 John 5:15GODSWORD

      • 1 John 5:14–15GODSWORD

      • 1 John 5:16–17GODSWORD

      • 1 John 5:18GODSWORD

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