– Start with the End
- I played on many sport teams when I was younger. At the beginning of each season we would start practices with “warm-ups”. In reality, they were more like “shutdowns” because all the exercise and running in warm-ups nearly took many of us out before we even began practice! The goal of warm-ups and practice is to prepare players for a long season of competitive games. You have to start with the end.
- In High School I had to take a foreign language. I chose Spanish. I didn’t really want to do it but I knew I had to so I endured. I managed to pass. However, if you ask me today (16+years later) I remember only a handful of words at best. The goal of learning a foreign language should not merely be an academic experience but for personal encounters. It is to communicate with people! If I had a friend who spoke Spanish and I wanted to communicate with them I would have kept it. You have to start with the end.
- When my wife and I discovered we (she; for some reason men include themselves in saying this) was pregnant with our first child we were excited. However, we shortly realized this meant about a hundred (only a slight exaggeration) doctor visits, going on a select diet of foods to eat and others not, and not to mention the discussion of labor, oh, I think we all know why they call it labor! (Note: Men, try to imagine where an 8lb anything could possibly exit your body without pain. God is sovereign and I love my wife!). But the obstacles were worth the outcome, three times over. You have to start with the end in mind.
EXAMINE John 16-17 3 principles of prayer and praise
Life is about discovery. One of the best ways to discover the purpose in life is by starting with the end in mind. So we start towards the end of Jesus’ life to understand the purpose of life.
We have been in a several week series talking about vision and values. Each of these values are defining marks emphasizing who we are and what we do. This week’s core value in GOSPEL is Prayer and Praise. Both prayer and praise are difficult to understand apart from starting with the end.
Before we get in our text, journey with me through Jesus’ life. Jesus, the divine Son of God, was born of a virgin. He lived approximately 30 years and began a public ministry of teaching and healing, lasting 3 more years. The predominant portion of Jesus’ life was spent in private preparation. Do you understand this significance? The most significant event in Jesus’ life (and all history) of the cross and the resurrection are known over two millennia later because He spent much time in preparation of prayer and praise of His Father.
When Jesus began His ministry those doubted because leading up to these moments were not public realities but private relationship Jesus shared with His Father. But it was that private relationship that led to the most significant, history altering transformation of the world. Likewise, prayer and praise are unseen by the human eye but are what allows you & I to take part in impacting our world for eternity.
Prayer & Praise are possible because of the gospel (16:16-18)
Jesus’ time had come to return to the Father (John 13:1-3). The disciples did not fully understand His words or actions but Jesus knew that His death and resurrection would bring about the opportunity for them to share in God’s kingdom.
John 16:7 “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
Hebrews 10:15-25 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He had said: 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds, 17 [He adds] : I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh); 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Prayer & Praise refine our perspective (16:19-33).
Jesus teaches that the gospel will bring glory to God and give aid to the disciples. At first sight it will be sorrowful. Jesus’ death will crush the disciples while the crowd will celebrate His crucifixion. Yet, after 3 days the resurrection will bring the disciples joy. This will be like a woman giving birth; pain to joy.
The swing of emotion is refined by a proper perspective of God’s activity in the world. The gospel doesn’t make sense if the hope of the resurrection is not included with Jesus’ death. Likewise, many times our lives need proper refinement by an understanding of God’s activity in this world. This only happens through prayer and praise.
Paul Miller says, “God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden… The still, dry air of the desert brings the sense of helplessness that is so crucial to the spirit of prayer. You come face to face with your inability to live, to have joy, to do anything of lasting worth. Life is crushing you… [YET]… Desert life sanctifies you. You have no idea you are changing. You simply notice after you’ve been in the desert awhile that you are different. Things that used to be important no longer matter… The desert becomes a window to the heart of God…You cry out to God so long and so often that a channel begins to open up between you and God. When driving, you turn off the radio just to be with God. At night you drift in and out of prayer when you are sleeping. Without realizing it, you have learned to pray continuously. This clear, fresh water of God’s presence that you discover in the desert becomes a well inside your own heart. The best gift of the desert is God’s presence.”
1) Learned Ravens fans root against Steelers; as Skins vs. Cowboys
2) My daughter’s prayer life…
This is Jesus before the cross. He gives God praise, He prays and He submits to God because His perspective is refined by the grand purpose of God. This is also a reminder for us in life – that we worship God not because life makes sense to us or that life is good but simply because God is good. God calls His children to “abide” which is a life of reminding ourselves that God is God and I am not.
Look at the words Jesus uses about the disciples: scattered (v.32); have tribulation (v.33). This world is not our home and our best reflection of that is when we praise and pray to the One whom holds the world in His hands.
The Psalmist understood prayer and praise refining perspective:
37:1-9 1 Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong. 2 For they wither quickly like grass and wilt like tender green plants. 3 Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, 6 making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. 7 Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. 8 Refrain from anger and give up [your] rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm. 9 For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
Prayer & Praise accomplish God’s work (17:1-5)
John 17 records a lengthy prayer of Jesus. It would be worth your time and investment to read the entire chapter. Note what Jesus prays for and how that pertains to you and us. But for the sake of our purposes here, it is sufficient to note that praise and prayer accomplish God’s purposes.
John 17:4 “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Jesus’ life work was complete by submitting Himself in praise and prayer to the Father. Likewise, we can only accomplish God’s work when we remain connected to Him (John 15:5). Our problem comes when we fail to see the power of prayer and praise.
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, October 17
“And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” John 14:12
Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work. In the teaching of Jesus Christ prayer is the working of the miracle of Redemption in me which produces the miracle of Redemption in others by the power of God. The way fruit remains is by prayer, but remember it is prayer based on the agony of Redemption, not on my agony. Only a child gets prayer answered; a wise man does not.
Prayer is the battle; it is a matter of indifference where you are. Whichever way God engineers circumstances, the duty is to pray…There is nothing thrilling about a labouring man’s work, but it is the labouring man who makes the conceptions of the genius possible; and it is the labouring saint who makes the conceptions of his Master possible. You labour at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint. What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.
So, what is the point in these principles? Why should these be considered core values and cause us to act?
ð Do you want to know God?
- Prayer and praise are the paths to personal relationship with God.
ð Do you want understanding in life?
- Prayer and praise are the process for perspective.
ð Do you want a life of impact in God’s kingdom?
- Prayer and praise are the practices for kingdom impact.