Heal Our Land

Pastor Jerry Gillis - September 25, 2016

Humble prayer helps God’s people know His character and share His heart.

Community Group Study Notes

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

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Sermon Transcript

So we're finding ourselves still in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse number 14. And I would like for us to all read this together, just to kind of reorient our minds back to this passage of Scripture, both on this campus, here, in the East Worship Center and in our Lockport campus this hour. I want us to just read this altogether while it's up on the screen for us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, 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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

So, as you know, we put this in its proper context in the last couple of weeks, particularly a few weeks ago, that this passage where God speaks to Solomon is actually a response to Solomon's prayer in chapter 6. And in that prayer, which we'll look at in just a moment, God actually responds almost point-by-point to Solomon's prayer. And what God does in the very beginning of His response is He basically talks about He wants to address this to His people. He starts with His people and we found that principally is true in the context of both Old and New Testament when God wants to speak something He often starts with His own people. And even when He wants to correct, He starts with His own people.

And what He starts with by saying is if my people, who are called by my name - He begins by saying if they will humble themselves and pray. Humility and prayer actually are wedded together. It's very difficult for them to be separated because what prayer is, it's a posture of humility before God. And so what I want us to do is kind of pull out this idea of prayer today - as we looked at last week the idea of humility - I want us to look at when He says "if my people, called by my name will humble themselves and pray".

Now here's what I want to tell you is the big picture of the message that we're talking about today. If you're summing up the big idea, it's this: Humble prayer helps God's people know His character and share His heart. So when we're a people, when we're the people of God who are actually humbly praying, what it does is it helps inform and instruct us about the nature of God's own character and it actually helps us to now share the heart that God has for people and for the world. We actually begin to have a heart that looks like His when we spend time in humble prayer.

Now, when we look at Solomon's prayer of chapter 6, we begin to actually see that in his praying, he recognizes God's character. And this is important for us because when God answers this, and says if my people called by my name will humble themselves and pray, what we're saying is that if we will humbly pray as the people of God, we too will be able to understand some of the nature of God's character and be representatives of His heart in the world.

Now what I want us to do for just a moment, if you're in 2 Chronicles chapter 7, you can just look back into the chapter preceding it and you'll see a prayer of Solomon for the dedication of the Temple. And in that prayer, what Solomon does is he actually demonstrates or shows confidence in God in a number of different ways. And it reveals part of the character and nature of God.

The first thing that we see - and I'm going to buzz through these quickly so you can see them - the first thing that we see is that Solomon's prayer showed his confidence in God as a just judge. Listen to how Solomon prayed in verse number 22. It says, "When anyone wrongs their neighbor, and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence."

In other words, what Solomon acknowledged is that Yahweh, the God of Israel is a just judge. He doesn't make mistakes. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows the difference between holiness and unholiness, between unrighteousness and righteousness. He knows all of these things and so he prays at the dedication of the Temple that when people come and they have some kind of issue, that God will be the one, as a just judge who will sort through all of that. So he's recognizing the character of God as a just judge.

But he also recognizes the character of God as a merciful restorer. Let me explain what I mean by that. In verse number 24, listen to what Solomon prays. He says God, when your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors. And by the way, if you wanted to continue reading in verses 26 through 31, if you're taking notes or whatever, you can go back and continue to read there. It will tell you similar things. Or if you skip down to verse 36 through 39, it will tell you similar things - that He's a merciful restorer - that when the people of God fail, when they sin against God in Israel, that if they will turn from their sin and turn back to God, Solomon's prayer, because he knows God is a merciful restorer, is that he prays God will mercifully restore them not only to the land but into relationship.

But a third thing about the character of God that we notice is that Solomon prays and in his prayer he reveals God as a gracious receiver - particularly a receiver of people. Listen to how he prays in verse 32 and verse 33 of chapter 6: "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm - when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name." So he actually talks about those who are not of the people of Israel, that if they want to come and they want to worship, and they want to be a part of what's going on and serving Yahweh, knowing Him - He says to His people, ultimately, I want you to be a people that receives these kinds of people because I am a gracious receiver. Solomon knew that.

Do you know why Solomon knew that and that's why he prayed it? Because God had revealed himself that way already back in the book of Deuteronomy when He founded the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy chapter 10, listen to what it says: "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt."

Now what God is saying to His people in Deuteronomy and what Solomon is praying knowing that the character of God is one who is a gracious receiver of people, even if they are not a part of the people of Israel, if they are foreigners from another land that want to come and experience Yahweh and know who He is, God says I want you to be the kind of people in Deuteronomy that receive them and that love them and that clothe them and that help them. I want you to be those kinds of people because I'm that kind of God - a word for today! Sometimes you don't have to draw the parallels real hard, do you? Because we're reminded of those kinds of things.

Regardless of what we say in our present political climate, when it comes to the idea of people coming into our nation - should there be laws and should that be done legally? Of course, right? You have to have a nation. They should be legal and all those kinds of things but the job of the Church, the people of God, is to show love. And the way that we show love is by helping and encouraging in any way that we can because this has always been, by the way, God's heart that He revealed for His own people Israel, because He said to Israel, hey, maybe you forgot something, Israel. You were foreigners in Egypt. And so when foreigners want to come to you, I want you to lovingly show them Me because this is what you once were, and now you’re not that anymore. And I think that is a wonderful reminder for us as the people of God - to share that same heart. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be laws. Don't hear me saying things I'm not saying. That we should have that kind of heart. See, because when we begin to understand God in humble prayer, we know His character and we begin to share the heart that He has for the world.

But there's a fourth thing there. We learn that God is a sovereign defender from Solomon's prayer. How do we know that? Well, in verse 34 here's what he says. Solomon prays God, when your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

Now, we know that that's actually two things. God shows Himself as defender because we know that God is a defender of His people. Now, that may look very different to us than it does to God sometimes. You know why? Because God is sovereign. That's why it says Solomon prays, when he prays this prayer he says, when we go to war against our enemies, wherever you might send your people. In other words he's not saying, hey, if we want to go do this on our own. He's saying God, if this is something that you have instructed, that we're to do this for your sovereign purposes in the world, then we trust that you're going to be an upholder and a defender of our cause.

I want to remind you that wherever God calls you, whatever God asks of you, whatever God brings you to do, that God Himself will be your defender when He Himself is your sender. God will be your defender when God is your sender. Now by the way, that doesn't always mean that everything works out perfectly in time as we know it. But God - because He is sovereign - knows what He's doing with the one that He sends or the ones that He sends, He knows what He's doing. And He can work through all kinds of circumstances to bring Himself glory. That's why we can trust in His sovereignty.

Now, I gave you that as a quick heads up in the very beginning of the message - you know, a quick seven minute snapshot. The reason is because God - when we're reading in chapter seven - He's actually not just saying that Solomon needs to keep praying like this. He actually says all of His people Israel need to pray like this, right? If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray. What He's looking for is humble prayer from every single one of His people. Why? Because He knows that when His people are humbly praying, they are going to learn and know His character and they are going to start sharing His heart. Why was this important for Israel? Because Israel had destiny and that destiny was to demonstrate the glory of God in the world. And they could not rightly demonstrate the glory of God if they didn't know God's character and share God's heart for the world that they resided in. The same is true for us, really, right? I mean ultimately, this is what His design is for the mission of His people Israel.

But it didn't always go like that. Those of us that know biblical history know that it didn't play out all the time like that. Started fine, seemed to be going well - Solomon's prayer in chapter 6, a humble prayer where he's beseeching God on behalf of his people, and he's recognizing the character of God, and he's sharing God's heart. But Solomon as we know ended up getting a little bit too enamored with his power and his wealth and all of his stuff and pride set in. And then of course after Solomon, the nation divides and now you have the kingdom of Judah and you have the kingdom of Israel and a lot of the kings that were coming along were not particularly good. In fact, they were consumed with themselves, and they became a prayerless kind of people because they had prayerless kinds of leaders who had actually swallowed a lot of pride.

And here's one thing that I know principally that you can take to the bank: If you are prideful, you are going to have a whole lot of trouble being prayerful. If you are prideful, you are going to struggle to be prayerful, because prayer is actually - listen to this - prayer is actually hooked together with humility. And that's why at the very beginning God says if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray - because prayer is actually a demonstration of our dependence upon God.

But that's not how it was going in Israel. And so as a result, Israel goes into captivity and ultimately the temple itself that Solomon had dedicated and had built for God's glory and His dwelling - it gets leveled and there's no more temple. And then the people are in captivity. And then about 70 years later they end up rebuilding a temple called Zerubbabel's Temple. The problem is everybody's crying - every single person, young and old - they're all crying at the same time when they hear, like, hey - we've got the temple! And all the older people that actually had seen Solomon's temple in their lifetime, that were old enough to remember it - they're crying because they're like, this thing is's so small, and it's not as pretty, and it's not near as glorious as the temple that we remember. So they're crying out of a broken heart for this isn't what we remember. But all the young people - they're crying for joy because they realized they've never had a temple, and now they've got one. So everybody's crying - some for sadness, some for joy. But everybody's crying.

But then ultimately, that temple is added onto and we call it Herod's temple. This is the temple we're talking about in the time of Jesus. Now the temple in the time of Jesus was beautified by Herod who was a great builder, an incredible architect and he was absolutely out of his mind crazy and not a good dude. But he was really good at doing these things.

And in so doing, what was interesting about that temple is that temple had some similarities of course to Solomon's temple, but there were some differences. For instance, there was a court outside called the Court of the Gentiles. There was a court in Solomon's temple as well. But the Court of the Gentiles was specifically marked for people who were not Jewish. In other words, there was a desire for separation. That desire for separation was so clear that in between the place where there was the Court of the Gentiles and the place where the Jews were to go, there was an actual sign that in archeology we've actually been able to see. We've actually - we still have access to. There was a sign that was printed in a couple of different languages to make sure everybody got it, but let me paraphrase the sign for you at the temple: If you come past this and you're not Jewish, we're going to kill you. That's the paraphrase. We're going to kill you. You come by here and you're not Jewish - we're going to kill you. So you stay out - if you're not Jewish, you're a Gentile - you stay out in the Court of the Gentiles. We got a place for you. The problem is that place for you outside in the temple - it's the place where everybody was buying and selling. It's the place where everybody was doing their business. I'm going to give you some lambs for sacrifice. And I'm going to sell you some other trinkets and stuff. And they were gouging people and doing all that stuff. It was where the chaos and the commotion was.

Do you know when Jesus showed up to the temple and He walked into the Court of the Gentiles? That's the place where He started flipping over tables. That's the place where He started doing it. Why? Because He said, you have made what was supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations, and you've turned it into a den of thieves. These Gentiles can't even access Yahweh out here because it's so nuts out here. And you've held them out from going any further. So you put them in a place where the chaos interrupts their ability to worship, and you've not allowed them to come any further. And Jesus is flipping over tables saying that's not what we came for. That's not the heart of God. I am telling you what the heart of God is. And Jesus showed it when He went to a cross and He died. And Ephesians 2 tells us that His death on the cross and His shed blood was the thing that actually broke down the wall of separation between Jew an Gentile so that there could be one new human being - a Christian - somebody who's transformed by the power of Messiah - whether it's Jews or whether it's Gentiles. You see, He was doing away with that which separated all of us, and He was saying that I'm bringing people together through faith in Me, that we now become part of one family, that we're part of one body.

And then of course, through Jesus' resurrection and the transformation that occurred and then His ascension to the Father, and then the coming of the Spirit a few days later, what happens is that the Church is born. And the birth of the Church was mostly all Jewish people, but those Jewish people got persecuted because now they're followers of Jesus and they're not pure Jews according to some of the Jews that were there. And so the Jews persecute them, and they spread all over the Roman Empire. Now the message of the Gospel was going to Jews and non-Jews and the Church is scratching their head going o.k., man, I don't know what's about to happen here, but now it's going to Jews and non-Jews, which is exactly what God intended.

And now you've got people in places like Ephesus where some of the people that came to Jesus are Jewish. And now they're followers of Jesus - they're Christians. Some of them are non-Jewish - Gentiles - and they've now come to faith in Jesus. They're Christian. And you've got regular Gentiles who practice paganism who don't really like the Gentiles who are now worshipping only one God because they've got a bunch of them. And they already don't like the Jews, because the Jews and the Gentiles didn't really get along. And you've got a group of just Jewish people who were there who don't even like their fellow Jews who've now given their life to Jesus, because they're not pure Jews anymore, and they' don't really like the Gentiles because they're not clean and we want to rid ourselves of them. So you've got a problem. Where it used to be just Jew and Gentile, now you've got Christian Jew and Gentile and everything in between. How in the world do you deal in an environment like that?

And, by the way, you've got a government over you that is a Roman Empire that as you're saying that Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. It's very counter cultural. How in the world do you deal with that? Well, the apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy who was in Ephesus and he told him exactly how to do it. And do you know what he said he needed to do of first importance? Pray. Pray. That's what he said. Just like Solomon began. Or just like God in response to Solomon began - if My people, who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray - that's exactly how Paul started out with Timothy in how to handle Ephesus.

Listen to what it says in 1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 1-6. Paul writes, "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time."

Now, what we see in the very beginning of that, it says - here's what he basically writes - he says first of all. Now when he says first of all, he's not talking about first in sequence. He's talking about first as importance. And when he says first of all he actually tells us what we're supposed to be about doing. Look what it says again in verse number 1. First Timothy chapter 2, verse 1. "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people."

Now listen, here's what he's doing. Paul is actually gathering up - are you listening to this? - he's gathering up all the synonyms for prayer that there are and he's basically saying this is how important what I'm telling you is. Do all of these things. Here are all the synonyms. It's necessarily about straining out each one of those, even though there's a little bit of a different vantage point for each one. When he talks about petitions - the first thing that he says - that's actually petition. When you read that in that language, it means coming from a place of deep need. Then he says prayers. Prayers is just the general term used about communication with God in the whole of the New Testament. Then he talks about intercession, which means that you are actually talking to God on someone's behalf or on a group of people's behalf. You are interceding for them. And then he says thanksgiving. That means when you approach God, you are grateful that God has even given you the opportunity to speak to Him. So he takes all of these synonyms, and he pulls them all together and says this is of first importance. I want you to be a people who pray, and he says I want you to pray for all people.

And then he gets really specific - super specific. Listen to what he says in verse number 2, first part: I want you to pray for kings and all those in authority. Now pause with me for a second. Sometimes when we read the Bible, we don't know how counter cultural what is being said actually is. So they were under the rule of the Roman Empire and according to the dating of 1 Timothy that most scholars agree with, do you know who would have been the emperor at that time of the writing? Nero. Not a fan of Christians. Not somebody that you would go, you know what, Nero's my man, if you're part of the body of Christ. Nero was persecuting and killing Christians - putting them on stakes and burning them. Lighting the city with them. This was Nero and do you know what Paul says? Pray for him. Pray for him. Now you're a believer at that time. Maybe Timothy's going, yeah, man. I... yeah. Did you mean him? That's what he meant. Pray for kings and for those who are in authority.

Now, here's the natural question for us: If this is actually what Paul says to Timothy (and it is), then we have to ask the question in our world, what does our praying for all people and for those in authority, what does that do to us? When we start asking why should we pray for all people and especially leaders, why should we do that? I'm going to give you four quick reasons. I think it's very important for us and you're going to see and then we're going to land in a really, really pointed application.

Here's the first thing - the reason that we should pray for all people and specifically leaders is because it changes us. This is fundamentally what prayer does. Prayer fundamentally changes us. Sometimes we view prayer as trying to change God, but what happens is that God changes us when we humbly pray. Because, as I told you what we get to know is we get to know His character and we begin to share His heart. It actually changes us more into His own image. Look in verse number 2. He says I want you to pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Now we look at that and we say, o.k., so we're still supposed to pray for our leaders so that they'll create an atmosphere for us that's peaceful so we can do our business of preaching the Gospel and sharing the Gospel. Yes, that is in part what this is saying, but there is also a part that sometimes we misread and that is this: when we pray for our kings and our leaders, our presidents, our governors - when we are humbly praying, it changes us because we become people of peace who are leading quiet lives. That word quiet lives - that word quiet means without strife or discord. It doesn't mean that we're secretly kind of sneaking around. This is the life I'm leading. I barely made it up here. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about free of strife and discord.

So here's the thought, ladies and gentlemen: in the tension filled nation that we live in, the land that we live in, that has its share of tensions on every front - being exacerbated in this political season by a bunch of inflamed rhetoric - what would happen if the Church looked like a humbly praying people. And I'm not just talking about praying when we're all gathered, but in our hearts as people that we are a humbly praying people and it is evident that the peace of Jesus is all over our lives, even in the midst of all the chaos around us. You see, when the Church is prayerless, the Church is going to be peaceless. But when the Church is full of prayers that are humbly seeking God, we become a people of peace. Do you know what happens to individuals who don't pray? They're not people of peace. They're mudslingers. But people of peace have a different mindset, because they can now live with the peace of Christ and liver ordered lives, quiet lives, lives that are free from strife.

In other words, we want the world to look at the Church and to see a Church that is drama free, not full of divisions like the rest of the world, not biting into the chaos of everybody else, but is fully confident in their trust in God as the great King above all and has the peace of Christ in their lives. That is attractive to a world looking for Jesus. But when we look like everybody else in the world, just like when Jesus said, you know you look like everybody else when you run around and you don't trust Me. I'm going to provide for you, but you run around like all crazy like everybody else. What? This is a part of what Paul's getting at - that our desire, out heartbeat ought to be God's heartbeat that actually humbly praying begins to change us.

Let me give you a second thing. The reason we should pray for all people and specifically leaders is because it's good and it pleases God. Look in verse number 3. This is good, and pleases God. Have you ever wondered where I get my points from? I am a rocket scientist, I tell you. I can pull that one straight out, right?

Sometimes - do you ever wonder do my prayers really matter? When I'm praying for people or I'm praying for a nation or I'm praying for our leaders, does it really matter? Is it really having that much of an effect? Let me pause. God said that your doing it pleases Him and that because it pleases Him, do you know what he does? He chooses to use prayer as a weapon of righteousness in the world.

I love how Karl Barth said this - Swiss theologian. He said these words: To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. That when we really humble ourselves and pray, we are doing something that we can't possibly fully know or understand but that we are consistently honoring the character of God and sharing His heart for the world and demonstrating our trust in Him and here's what He says about that: This pleases Me. That's why we continue to pray even when we don't see all of the effects sometimes of what that means. It pleases God. Do you want to please God or do you not want to please God is the question that we ask when it comes to prayer.

But there's a third thing that I want to remind us of. The reason we should pray is because it reminds us who the True King really is. In that same verse, verse 3, Paul says, "This is good, and pleases" - listen to this - "God our Savior". It does not say this is good and pleases President Obama, our savior, Donald Trump out savior, Hillary Clinton our savior, Gary Johnson our savior, Jill Stein our savior, fill in the gaps our savior. Doesn't say that. It says it pleases God our Savior. When we actually humbly pray we are on our face before God - do you know what we're saying? We are appealing to a leader that is higher than all. We are actually demonstrating hope in the midst of hopelessness because we know there is One who reigns above all - that one day, at the name of Jesus, every king, every leader, every president, every prime minister that has ever lived will bow the knee, and they will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Lord over lord, is the King over every king and part of why we pray for them is that they will acknowledge that now before it's too late. But they will acknowledge it.

You see, this ultimately helps us to understand who the true King is. Do you know what that does? That really focuses our vision. We don't go all apocalyptic. And that's what's happening to people. They're just going straight apocalyptic. If so and so gets to be the president, whawwww!!! And you come to church and say, "Oh I trust God". Really? Because I can promise you after November when we have a new president, whomever that is, I can assure you that if you can look into the presence of God, He's not going to be in a corner sucking His thumb. Oh, man. I told them I don't know what they're doing. I told them. I told them. What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Somebody. This is not God. He's sovereign over all. He's got this.

We don't even know, in God's providence and in God's sovereignty what an election for any particular candidate will mean for the Church of Jesus, because sometimes the Church of Jesus has thrived more in opposition than in ease. I don't know that you get either one with either candidate that we may elect. I have no idea what that looks like. This is up to the Lord. So we have to come to a place where we're reminded of who the true King is, and then we don't become a people who are all apocalyptic, and we don't become a people who are freaking out all the time. And we aren't a people who are all chaotic in our hearts. We understand that God our Savior is where our hope lies and that really focuses our vision.

Let me give you a fourth thing. The reason that we should pray specifically for leaders and for all people is because it demonstrates the Gospel. Look in verses 3 through 6 here. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

So in the context of prayer, listen to what Paul says. Paul says here's what I want to remind us of when I call you to praying. I want to remind us of the fact that Jesus Christ is a ransom. Do you know that's one term that's used in the New Testament to describe the atonement - there are many pictures of the atonement in the New Testament. This is one of them. But why would we as a people need to be ransomed? Because we were in slavery to sin. Slaves to sin cannot buy their way out of it. It required a mediator between God and man, the perfect sacrifice who died for the sins of people, who was yet himself flawless and that He gave Himself on our behalf so that we might be able to experience a salvation that God desires every one to have access to. His desire is that all should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. That's what the Bible says. That's His desire. Is that going to happen? No. But is that His heart? Yes. Why is that important for us? Because when we understand the Gospel, we begin to understand God's heart when we pray.

I want to point something out to you, and we're going to play class participation. You're going to help me. Are we ready? We're going to look at this whole passage again and I'm going to point out a particular phrase. It's going to be in bold and in all caps - you can't miss it. This is an easy assignment. Here we go. I urge, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for who? {All People} For kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants who? {All People} All people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for who? {All People} All people. This is now been witnessed to at the proper time.

You know why this is important? Listen carefully. Verse number 1, verse number 4 and verse number 6 all tell us about this phrase. In verse number 1 Paul is writing to Timothy about who we should pray for. He says all people. Every type of man, woman, and child is within the purview of prayer. Then he says these - in verse 4 and verse 6 - these are the ones who Jesus died for. Same phrase. All people. Every type of man, woman, and child. Every single one. Do you know what that reminds us of and what that teaches us? Our prayers should be as broad as Jesus' sacrifice. Our prayers should be as broad as His sacrifice. Or let me say it another way. If Jesus died for them, we should pray for them. That's how you could sum this text up.

Now why do I tell you that? I tell you that because what we're understanding is the same thing that the people of Israel would understand if they would humble themselves and pray. If we in the New Testament understand the reality of the Gospel, and we begin to pray for all people, even those that are leaders among us, what happens to us is this: our humble prayers help us as God's people to know God's character and to share God's heart - what I told you from the very beginning. This is what it allows us to do.

Now, our ushers are coming through in every campus and every venue, and they have in their hands a card. This is our application time. I'm going to ask if you would to only take one card per person. The 9:00 worship gathering did not do very well along that line. I assumed they would only take one per person - I assumed wrong. So we had people between services trying to print additional cards because they were taking ten apiece or something. I was like, do you need that many? Now it's this size. Listen carefully. While you're getting these, I want you to listen. It's this size for a reason. It can go in somebody's wallet. you could fold it over. It can go in a woman's purse, like, so easy. We could have made this 40 times larger and it still would have fit there in some of your purses. Some of your purses - I was like, is that Samsonite? You know, you just go whoa! That thing is enormous. You're going to have back problems. We made it this size. If you have a smart phone cover, when you open your smart phone it will fit in there. It will fit on your dashboard of your car. You can put it on a refrigerator. You can put it in your pocket. It's a size that means you can carry it where you most want to carry it, o.k.?

But now I want to explain to you what I'm going to ask you to do. There are three boxes here and you can write a little smaller rather than larger and there are three boxes here and what I want you to do in the first box is I want you to write down who you're going to pray for that are our leaders and are in authority. At the very least I want you to write down President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump. If you want to write down Gary Johnson, Jill Stein because they're going to be on the ballot as well, you can do that. If you want to write down the governor of New York, Governor Cuomo, you can do that. Maybe people in the first worship gathering took a bunch of cards because they were going to write every member of Congress' name down by name - I don't know. But at the very least write down the President and the people who could be President in the very near term. O.k.?

And now in the second box, I want everybody to look at me for a second because I want you to hear what I'm about to tell you here. This is very important. In the second box where it says "All People" - we got the message on that, didn't we? From the Scripture? All people. Every type of man, woman, and child can be prayed for and should. I want you as kind of a confession, right where you are, in your heart to ask yourself what group of people do I kind of wish weren't a part of All People to pray for? So let me help you with that. For some of you that might be conservatives. For some of you that might be liberals. For some of you that might be people associated with Black Lives Matter. For some of you it might be the police. For some of you it might be the KKK. For some of you it might be Muslims. For some of you it might be gays. Or immigrants, or athletes who don't stand at an anthem. Am I getting close? Whoever they are, that you've been willing to complain about but haven't been willing to pray for write them down. That's the second box.

And then box number 3 I want you to write down three people in your circle of influence - people that you know, that you rub shoulders with that are in your world - 3 people that need Jesus that you're going to be praying come to know Him. Here's the reason: when you pray that way, I know that it pleases God because His heart is that all people should be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth. So when you're praying for people to do what God's desire for them is, you are praying according to God's heart. Now that doesn't mean God's going to override their will. It doesn't mean that they will for sure come to faith in Jesus but you begin to pray and you know what God will do? He'll begin to change you because He may help you to understand that you may very well be part of the answer to your own prayer - of speaking the Gospel and showing the Gospel into their lives. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you just a moment to keep writing, thinking, and beginning to pray and then in just a moment I'm going to pray publicly for us. We're going to sing a chorus and we're going to be gone. So take this moment right where you are to finish writing and to pray right where you are.

So Father, we as your people humble ourselves and pray. And Father just as early this morning I received your correction in my own heart, I pray that we, your people, would humble ourselves and receive your heart as our own. I pray that we'd be willing to pray for those who lead us and I lead us to pray for President Obama, for Donald Trump, for Hillary Clinton - God, who is our President and who may yet become our President. And Father, for whomever that may be, whether it's them or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or whomever, I pray for wisdom from above. I pray that their hearts would be humbled before you as the King over every king and as the Lord over every lord and that they would act in concert with your own heart. But Father we, in praying for them, we acknowledge your sovereignty that as Your Word says, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. We trust You. And, Father, for those that maybe we have complained about but have not prayed about, for those that we feel like that maybe we have treated in our hearts as less than people because we're so angry with them for whatever we might be angry with them about, we learned today, Lord, that our prayers should be as broad as Jesus' sacrifice. And over and over we read that it's for all people.

So, Lord, I pray that while we stand and speak against issues in our world that may be unjust, that may be unholy and unrighteous, and there are many, that we would do so in the Spirit of Jesus, and with the peace of Christ. And, Father, we pray for those around us that are friends, family members that don't know You. We know it pleases You to intercede on their behalf and I pray, God, that we would be faithful to do so and that you might even use us in their lives to show and to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We trust you to do this in Jesus' name. Now right where you're seated - just stay seated and join Nick as we sing this.

So before we walk out, if you're here and you've never come into a relationship with God through His Son, there are some people in the Fireside Room that would love to talk to you about what that relationship looks like. That what God has done for you, someone who could never make their way to God on their own, He has shown you such grace in Jesus and by turning from our sin and putting our faith in Him and receiving the grace that He's poured out on us we can have new life, forgiveness of sins, and be made new. If you've never come to that place, I pray you'd come by the Fireside Room. Out in the Atrium it's clearly marked. For the rest of us, what my hope is, is that you'll - I'm going to ask you to take this card with you, put it where you want. I'm going to ask you to use it every day this week at least. You probably could do this well past this week, but every day this week I want you to pray for what you've written down right here, and let God change us and maybe even change situations for His glory. We trust you to do this, God, by the power of Your Spirit in the name of Your Son Jesus, amen.

God bless you. Have a great week. You're dismissed.

More From This Series

If My People

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Sep 11, 2016

Humble Themselves

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Sep 18, 2016
Watching Now


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Sep 25, 2016

Seek My Face

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Oct 2, 2016

Turn From Your Wicked Ways

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 5 - Oct 9, 2016

Healing Words

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 6 - Oct 23, 2016

Healing Through Our Trust

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 7 - Oct 30, 2016

Healing Through Unity

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 8 - Nov 6, 2016

Worship Set List

The Prayers We Sing

Chapel Worship


Holy Spirit

Bryan and Katie Torwalt


I Change Change

The Vintage Band


Lord Over All

Kari Jobe


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