I intended to continue on the message from James 4:1-10, in the sense of the spiritual armour that is needed to withstand the devil. But the e mail I received the other day requires a detour.
A church in a small town has baptized nearly 700 people in two years. Hartville Assembly of God in Hartville, Mo., which seats 250, is regularly filled to capacity on Sundays, and about 100 teen-agers from surrounding towns attend weekly prayer meetings.
The town of 513 is in the southern part of the state.
...High school teachers often call the church to comment on how students have changed for the good since attending the services, Assemblies of God News Service said. Visitors to a service receive a visit the next day from someone in the congregation.
...A Sunday night service features a bonfire during which participants burn everything from drug paraphernalia to pornography. "I tell them to say, 'Lord, this is my past, and this is what I used to be. And because of what you did at Calvary's cross, I'm not who I was and my past will not affect my future. I'm burning this and I'm burning my bridges behind me,' " pastor Charles Stoker said.
...The spiritual renewal began when the men of the church started meeting regularly to pray for revival in their church and community, the church said.
Read more at http://www.religiontoday.com/CurrentFeatureStory/I am accepting the e mail for what it says.
First, this is an Assemblies of God, so I cannot speak for his plan of salvation. I will assume it is sound, for he does speak of Calvary's cross as the answer to the ills of the community.
Second, the church is located in a small town, about the size of Linden.
Third, evidently, the church was about the same size as ours. We can probably seat close to 200.
Fourth, the spiritual renewal is associated with the men of the church united for prayer.
Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Shall agree. We get our word "symphony" from the same root word as shall agree comes from. This refers to a chorus in harmony, rather than a rasping discord. A rasping discord is sometimes heard between family members, particularly brothers and sisters at home.
This passages teaches that a small Christian assembly, a small church made up of very few people, can prevail with God through prayer.
Fifth, how many men? It does not say. I am assuming that all of the men are included here, other than those who could not because of health reasons. Evidently all the men of the Hartville Assembly of God united in prayer for God to move in their community and in their church. And God moved.
Sixth, we are not discounting the power nor the important place of women and their prayers in the Lord's work, particularly the prayers of widows. There are many records of praying women having great influence in the religious lives of their families, their churches and communities. It was not uncommon for Paul to complement women for their hard work for the gospel's sake in some of the churches he wrote to. (Philip. 4:3.)
But we are here talking of MEN.
Now before the women libbers get stirred up, let me point out that the Lord's work is first and primarily MEN'S work. Any Christian wife will readily confess that she would love to see her husband leading the way in the Lord's work, both the spiritual work of evangelization and teaching, and the physical work on the Lord's physical property. The flesh wants to convince us that serious Christianity is the job of women and children.
James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. 13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.Let us look at Elias, a man made of flesh like you and I. This story is one of my favorite stories in Scripture when it comes to prayer.
After Solomon, the 12 tribes of Israel split into two nations: 2 tribes followed David's line. This was Judah, and its capital was at Jerusalem. 10 Tribes split away under Jeroboam, and had various kings. This was Israel, and its capital was at Samaria.
Ahab was the eighth king of Israel. King Ahab did more evil in the sight of the Lord than all the kings before him. (1 Kgs. 16:29.) To make matters worse, Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the throughly pagan king of the Zidonians. Ahab even built an altar to Baal in Samaria, provoking the Lord more than any king before him.
Elijah the Tishbite was a prophet of God during the reign of Ahab. The Lord God sent a message by Elijah to King Ahab that it would not rain again until Elijah prayed for rain. The Lord then told Elijah to hide himself. He stayed by a book till the brook dried up, and then he went to a widow in Zarepath, where the Lord fed the widow till the drought was over.
The Lord used this experience of Elijah and the widow to preach a message on God's divine providence. His message caused much wrath among the religious leaders of his day. Luke 4:26-30.
While staying there, Elijah raised the widow's son from the dead. The drought lasted 3 years, and then the Lord sent him back to King Ahab to announce that it would rain again. We will pick up the story in 1 Kings 18:17.
First, v. 17, Ahab not God's man was the problem.
Second, v. 21, the people could not make up their minds whether they wanted to serve the Lord or serve their own fallen desire: how long halt ye between two opinions.
Third, v. 21, Elijah sought to force them to make up their minds as to who they would serve.
Fourth, v. 22, though Elijah felt he was the last one left who wanted to serve God, he followed the Lord anyway.
V. 19, evidently there were 850 false prophets in Ahab's and his wife's employment.
Fifth, V. 23, Elijah put God to the test.
Sixth, v. 37 is the point I want.
Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.Elijah's desire was to see hearts turned to God. His desire was not to see hearts turned to himself.
The Lord alone can change hearts; the Lord alone can turn hearts to himself, and give the desire to serve and please him.
Our point being this: The men of the Hartville Assembly of God united in prayer. God heard their prayers, and he turned the hearts of the people toward himself.
How bad to we desire to see hearts of our friends and of our community turned toward the Lord?
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.Do we have enough of a desire to unite in prayer THAT THE LORD WOULD TURN HEARTS TO HIMSELF?
Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.