Pray for the Lost

October 12, 2014     I Timothy 2:1 - 7   Pray for Lost 

 

      A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, and then insured them against, among other things, fire.   Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars, the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company.   In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost 'in a series of small fires.'    The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason, that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.   The lawyer sued and WON!  Delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company, in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable 'fire' and was obligated to pay the claim.  Seems like the lawyer is pretty smart but Proverbs says he that wins souls is wise. 

    Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the cigars that perished in the 'fires'.    After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.  Be careful about doing things that are questionable or wrong.  The cigars were destroyed in the fires.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said fear him who can destroy body and soul in hell.    Hell is real. 

     As we move into prayer today lets also remember that prayer is for the purpose of bringing us to God.   It is taking time to enjoy God.   When I say taking time some may almost think of it as a sacrifice.   Is spending time with God a sacrifice?   We need his presence and his love to flow into our hearts and his peace.   In the midst of all that we experience should be God and his presence.  It is a great blessing just to worship him even in the struggle of life.   The other day when Sally and I were praying I just thanked God for my health and her health.  It is good to be still and know that he is God.   I do not think that means spending your life in a monastery either.   Paul and Jesus did not do that.  Jesus prayed for the disciples he prayed do not take them out of the world.    Prayer is more than just praying for the lost. 

         What do Americans Pray For?  Themselves and maybe a Sports Team.   By Sarah Bailey   That is pretty shallow I think.   She writes when Americans aren’t busy praying for themselves or their own needs — and most of them are — many are seeking divine intervention on behalf of a favorite sports team or the golden ticket in the lottery, according to a new survey.    About 13 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for sports teams, compared with 21 percent who say they have prayed to win the lottery, the new survey from Life Way Research suggests.  A survey earlier this year from Public Religion Research Institute suggested that 26 percent of Americans pray for their sports team, while 73 percent say they have never done this.   Some of Life Way’s new survey’s main findings include: 48 percent of Americans pray every day, 82 percent who pray typically pray about family or friends, 20 percent pray for people of other faiths or no faith.   Equal numbers of Americans 7 percent pray behind the wheel, either for a good parking space or not to get a speeding ticket.  Smaller numbers of people, around 5 percent, pray for someone’s relationship to end, someone to get fired or for someone else to fail.  What do you pray for? 

      In the New Testament, Paul encourages Christians to pray for those in authority.   However, only about 12 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for government officials, according to the survey.  Jesus also directs Christians to pray for their enemies.   About 40 percent who pray say they have done so, while 41 percent have prayed for people who have mistreated them.     About a third of survey respondents say they pray several times a day, according to the survey.  Sixty five percent of Americans say they pray at least once a month.

       Does this speak to why Christianity is not really growing in America today?    I think it speaks volumes.  My goodness we have a Muslin beheading his co worker in America.    There are places in America that Shira law is enforced and we pray for our sports team to win?    Even though there are some who pray for those of other faiths and those with no faith I do not see the passion for the lost in this survey.    The Father in heaven is concerned. People are on God’s heart.   As we grow in our love for God we will grow in our love for people.  We will grow in our love for the lost.   We will grow in our zeal and passion to share the gospel. 

     If we do not pray for the lost then do not expect the lost to come to Jesus.  I would trust for those that attend this church that we are growing in our concern, our prayers and our sharing with the lost.   I do not want my life to be wasted on me nor do you.  I want my life to count.   I believe you do too.   What lasts forever that is in this world?   Christians and the word of God and the rest goes up in smoke.   It is good for Christians to ask what they are pouring their life in.    Are we building the kingdom of God?   Are we in step with the Holy Spirit?   How is my life counting today?  Being busy may not necessarily mean that you are successful.  I think we all could say I am going like crazy.  Life is crazy busy.   I would say Mary sat at Jesus feet and I suppose some, would say pastor you are putting one more thing on my plate and I would say that all of us need a proper balance in our life.  Our sanity, our life, our strength, and peace are in Jesus.  He cannot be last on our list.  How do we respond to the lost?   We see that Jesus was the friend of sinners. 

       At the scene of an accident there are three groups of people, each with a different response toward those involved in the accident. The first group is the bystanders and onlookers.   They are curious and watch to see what happens but have little active involvement.    The second group is the police officers.    Their job is to investigate the cause of the accident, assign blame, and give out appropriate warnings and tickets.    The third group is the paramedics.   They are the people usually most welcomed by those involved in the accident.  The good medics could care less whose fault the accident was and they did not engage in lecturing about bad driving habits. Their response is to help those who were hurt.  They bandage wounds, freed trapped people, and gave words of encouragement.   Three groups - one is uninvolved, one is assigning blame and assessing punishment, and one is helping the hurting.  When it comes to the lost which group are we in?  It is easy to be critical and generally that does not build.  The unsaved can be hard to deal with. 

    A person that is spiritually dead cannot please God.   They cannot have a relationship with God.  They are slaves to sin.  They do not have supernatural power to change their life.  They are dead in their transgressions.    They cannot appreciate or understand spiritual things.  In Ephesians 2 Paul tells them that before Jesus they were living under the influence of darkness and the spirit who works in disobedience.    In Acts 26 Paul said his call was to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.   Lost people are under the influence of darkness and the power of Satan. 

       A person who is physically dead cannot respond to physical stimulation.  A dead person cannot hear nor smell or move or respond.  He feels no pain and he is not hungry.   The wages of sin is death and death always meant separation in the bible.      The unbeliever is not sick he is dead.   Warren Wiersbe wrote that our world is one vast graveyard.   God told Adam the day you eat of the tree you will die.   Adam ate and Adam died along with his descendants –mankind because death was passed on from generation to generation.   The wages of sin is death and those wages will be paid for.   For those that do not receive Jesus they will pay for their sins.    They will stand before a holy and totally just God some day.      Since Adam mankind has lived in disobedience to God.   The lost person’s house his life in a sense is burning.  Why does a sinner behave like a sinner because he has a sinner’s nature?    Our unregenerate nature is to sin and our bent in life apart from God is to sin.   It is to be self-centered and look out for ole number 1.  

     How then do they get saved?   How do they get out of darkness?    How do they break out of the power of Satan?   I would submit to you that it is by prayer and by the scriptures.   God answers prayer right?   If the total responsibility for salvation was upon God then I think all would be saved.   It is man that drops the ball.   We are not doing our part.  We co-labor with God.       It is the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the word of God that saves souls.  But we must pray and we must share.  We need to share the gospel but we must pray.   Jesus commissions his followers to make disciples.  Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel to every single creature.  Do not make them like you are but help them become what they should be in Jesus.   Romans tell us how shall they hear unless someone preaches or shares the gospel.   In John 16 when the Holy Spirit comes he will convict the world of sin righteousness and judgment.  The work of the Holy Spirit is critical for a person’s salvation.  We pray that the Holy Spirit will bring life and truth to the lost and that they may call upon Jesus and be saved. 

      The father of modern missions William Carey went to the church leaders in England and told them you hold the reigns and I will go down to India and preach the gospel   They told him if God wanted them to be saved God will save them.   It is obvious that when William Carey went to India and laid down his life for them that some of them got saved.   The church leaders in England did not save any in India.   Good news - II Peter 3:9 God is not willing that any should perish but all would come to repentance.  I Timothy 2:4 say who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.  When you pray for the lost you are right in the center of God’s will.  God is pleased when you pray for the lost.  We can pray in faith that God wants lost people to be saved.   It is a spiritual labor.   There seems to be a battle involved to see the lost saved.  It is a battle to turn a church around.  It is hard work but the rewards are eternal.  

    There is a story told about a faithful old deacon whose often repeated prayer expression was, "O Lord, touch the unsaved with Thy finger." One prayer meeting night he was leading in prayer when he abruptly stopped praying. Supposing he had been taken suddenly ill, someone went to him and asked if there was anything wrong, if he were ill. "No," he replied, "I’m not ill.  But something seemed to say to me, ’Thou art the finger’."    The ball is in our court so to speak.  Jesus died and paid the price and we I believe have a price to pay and work to do.   This is the most important and highest calling in the world to be involved in winning people to Jesus.  It is great to aspire to being a praying person and a godly Christian.   It is a great and worthy goal to be a good employee and a great parent.  Praying for and winning the lost is a great goal for us.    Jesus had to die on the cross and that proves how important and how valuable souls are to God.  Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."  Jesus was not selfish – he laid down his life.  Jesus exhibited a passion for lost people.   Jesus labored intensely pouring out his soul unto death.   Jesus was interested in the lost sheep and the lost coin and the lost son.   As there is rejoicing when a lost child is found so there is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents and comes home to his father.