A Prayer for our listeners: Good News in the Morning,

Good News in the Morning broadcast, Sunday, July 3, 2016

This program is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON K0G 1W0.  I’m your host today, Brian Wilkie of St. Andrew’s Christian Church in Rockland.  As always, I want to start by thanking you, our listeners; we are so grateful for your encouragement and support.  Please remember that you can always visit our website for materials to encourage and support you in your Christian walk, and if you miss an episode of the show you can go to our website and download the podcast or mp3 of our broadcast.  Details can be found on our website at www.gncm.ca.

Today I want to give a special shout-out and a “Thanks” to Sandy Davidson who has sponsored this program with a gift to Good News Christian Ministries.  Thank you so much for your support.

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Today’s program is – I hope you’ll find it – a gift to you, our listeners, because as a small group in the church that I serve has been looking at the letter of Paul to the Ephesians,

we found this prayer within the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, and it’s a prayer he prays for his church which I pray for my church which today is a prayer I pray for you.  This is what scripture has to say:

After Paul has described the blessings that the Ephesians have received he says:  “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for those of us who believe.  That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.  This is the word of God.  

We’re going to take a look at how we can pray this prayer today for each other, for our congregations, for the body of Christ as a whole, and we can even pray it for the world.   So we’ll take a look at that in a few minutes, but on the theme of prayer I’ve picked a few songs today which reflect that theme and the first song is a version of Standing in the Need of Prayer sung by Carolyn Arends from her album Love Was Here First.  Would you listen to it with me?

- Standing in the Need of Prayer, Carolyn Arends -

Carolyn Arends, who we’ve just listened to, is one of my favourite artists in the Christian music field, and she’s a Canadian living in Abbotsfort or Surrey, BC area and has done a number of great albums.  But this Standing in the Need of Prayer is an old spiritual that really expresses a timeless truth, because we all need prayer, we all have needs in our lives, and we are so encouraged and delighted when someone lifts up our needs to the Lord in prayer.  We can often look around and see other people in need of prayer, and, yep, they do need prayer.  The people around us are people like us who find that daily life wears them down, that sometimes their own sin is strong in their life, sometimes their attitude needs adjustment.  But when it comes down to it, isn’t it us that we can most fervently pray for, that we can recognize our own sin, and let God operate on our souls first?  Yes, I stand in the need of prayer!  Do you?

When Paul sees the Ephesians and he sees the greatness of their faith, he wants to pray for them.  Very often, perhaps, we let prayer be generated by an obvious need – when things happen worst, that may be when we’re most inclined to pray.  But when things are going well, shouldn’t we also pray?  Shouldn’t we continue to thank God, and praise God, and shouldn’t we ask God to continue to build on what He’s already doing?  This is exactly what Paul does in his letter to the Ephesians and I truly believe that as this is God’s word, this is not just Paul expressing his will, but this is the spirit of God expressing the will of God through Paul in the words of scripture, because what Paul prays for is such a fabulous prayer, what a great prayer for anybody, because first of all he says, I give thanks for you – I haven’t stopped giving thanks for you.  Do you have somebody in your life who just doesn’t stop giving thanks for you?  People that know your weaknesses and strengths but are so glad that they have you in their lives?  It may be your husband or wife, it may be your parents or your children.  It may be a friend or it may be a pastor that you’ve been supporting with your encouragement and praise.  But you know what?  There always is somebody that doesn’t stop giving thanks for you, and that’s our Lord, Jesus Christ.  You see, Paul isn’t moved just by his own compassion and his own enthusiasm when he makes this prayer for the Ephesians.  Paul is being moved by his Lord, Jesus Christ; he’s being inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and it is God who is the most thankful person, the most thankful being, that could ever exist.  Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God, interceding for you constantly.  And the prayers that are stirred up in so many people’s hearts, the prayers that are stirred up for you and for me, are first of all stirred up by the Holy Spirit of God.  God stirs up people to give thanks for you, and I think I can say for all the other hosts of this program that we are stirred up to give thanks for you, our listeners, for the people who are praying for us and supporting us.  We are so thankful to be a part of helping you to grow in your faith, but your faith also helps us to grow, and we remember you in our prayers as well.  I’d like to say I’m as good as Paul at this, where he can say I haven’t stopped giving thanks for you – but, like you, my prayer life can be intermittent from time to time, but wouldn’t it be great to be at the place where we could say we are continually praying, that whenever we turn our head and see something in the world around us we have either a reason to give thanks and praise to God, or in addition to giving thanks and praise we might also be able to lift up a request to God for the need that we see around us.  It’s Paul who turns to Jesus Christ and to His Glorious Father and he asks something, that God would give something to the Ephesians.  Now if you had a list of the top ten things to give to somebody, to ask God for, it might not be the same thing, but I would encourage you to look at the scriptures and let scripture teach you how to pray for others, because Paul doesn’t ask for ordinary things.  The Ephesians are in the Roman Empire, and Paul writes many times to churches saying he wants to strengthen them when they are being persecuted, and so do the other apostles, Peter, John, and James, encouraging the Christians to be courageous in persecution and to have God’s protection.  But instead of asking for these things, at this point, Paul says, I want God to give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better.  Paul sees the great faith of the Ephesian people, and what he wants is for it to be even greater.  He wants them to know Jesus more.  He wants them not simply to receive wisdom, but the Holy Spirit which brings wisdom with Him.  The Holy Spirit comes into us, and doesn’t just deposit a few wise words, but lives in us and continues to pour wisdom and revelation into our hearts, so that we can know the Glorious Father.

Do you want to know God more?  You may have a little faith.  You may in fact think that you have no faith.  Or you may think that you have really learned a lot, that you know your Bible backwards and forwards and you’ve served God faithfully.  It’s those people who know him best that seem to want to know him more. But if you want to know God more, you can be assured that my prayer – just as the prayer of Paul was for the Ephesians – my prayer for you is that you would know Him better.  I pray that the words that we speak over the radio show, and the words that you hear from your pastor in your church at home and the other sermons you listen to, and the conversations that you have with believers would build you up in the knowledge and the love of Jesus Christ.

Paul prays for another thing – he prays that not only would you know Jesus in the present, he prays for the Ephesians that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened so they would know the hope to which God has called them, the glorious riches of His inheritance in the saints.  You know, it’s important for us to know hope, it’s important for us to understand that God is able to provide for us in this life, but that He’s provided an even greater promise in eternity – that the life to come is a hope, a glory that can keep us going when this life presents its difficulties.  Let’s take a bit more of a look at that after we listen to a song that speaks to us about the glory and the wonder of who God is. This is the song How Majestic is Your Name from Maranatha! Music, A Collection of the Top 25 Worship Songs of the Decade.

- How Majestic is Your Name, Maranatha! Music -

We were beginning to speak about the hope that we have in Christ.  Paul praying that the Ephesian Christians might have their eyes open, so they may see the hope, they would know the hope to which they have been called.  I’d like you to know that hope as well, and I’d like to know it better myself, because the hope that we have has been actually expressed in the song that we’ve just heard.  Our hope is in being face-to-face with the majesty and the glory of our Lord.  Our hope is that we will see him face-to-face, be filled with His perfect love, know him fully and enjoy him forever.  God is the greatest being that could ever exist.  Everything that does exist was created by Him, and He is above them all, perfect in power, perfect in love, perfect in glory and perfect in splendor, and our destiny is to spend eternity with Him.  It’s a great joy to consider what pleasure, what goodness, what happiness will be ours in heaven, when we’re face-to-face with Jesus.  So many of the jokes and casual conversations about heaven talk about streets of gold and harps and clouds and all kinds of things, the Pearly Gates is an expression that is part of our vocabulary as a culture, but these are not the joys of heaven – the joy of heaven is God.  To know God is to love him and to love him is to enjoy him.  The hope that we have is very much like the hope that Jesus Christ had.  It says in the scriptures that Christ endured a lot of things; He endured the Cross itself, by keeping in His focus the glory that lay ahead of him.  I know that the glory that lay ahead of Jesus Christ was to return to His Father, and sit at His right hand; I know that the glory that belonged to Jesus and that He was looking forward to included the existence that He had from all eternity with His Father, in perfect unity with the Father, and the Holy Spirit; that just His being in heaven was so full of glory, and yet He left that glory, came to earth and died on the Cross in order to add to that glory, and the thing that He added to that glory was that He would bring many sons with Him, many children of God would be saved through Him, that many people would come to spend eternity with Him, and that Christ looks forward to the hope that kept Him faithful through the Cross, and the hope of glory was the hope of bringing you to be with Him forever.  One of God’s great pleasures in eternity is to spend it with His people, with redeemed, glorified, perfected, wonderful people that have come to Him and have started to enjoy an eternal friendship with Him.  Just as we look forward to spending eternity with Jesus, Jesus looks forward to spending eternity with you.  And so God wants you to know that the hope that you have is through Jesus Christ.  If your hope is in other things, that’s an insufficient hope, and if you hope, in fact, to spend eternity with Jesus, it comes through faith in Him, through turning to Him, through trust in Him.  It comes through the forgiveness that He’s offered through the Cross, it comes through the cure that He’s offered through the Cross.  And Paul goes on to pray for these Ephesians that they would also know the power, the incomparably great power that God has for those who believe.  He says that the power that is working in you who believe, although you may not feel it - some people feel the presence of God from time to time, some people long for such an experience; but whether we feel it or not, the great glorious power of God is in those who believe, and he says that this power is like the working of His mighty strength, the strength which He exerted when He raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  The power working in you is a resurrection power; more than that – this is the power that not only raised Jesus from the dead but also seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms; this is the power that set Jesus Christ above all rule and authority and power and dominion; this is the power that has raised Christ above every title that can be given, so that He is called King of kings, Lord of lords, not only today but in eternity.  So this power, by which God placed all things under Christ’s feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church’s body, this power is at work in those who believe, this power to save us from sin, this power to keep us faithful into eternity, this is at work in you and Paul’s prayer is that you would know it.  Well, this is my prayer for you as well.  And I do pray that you would turn from time to time to the first Chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and you would read that prayer in verses 15 to 23 and pray it for somebody you know, or pray it for a congregation, or pray it for a pastor, pray it for a missionary, pray it for someone who doesn’t yet know Christ that they would know Christ,  seeing what it is that God has Paul pray for the Ephesians and take that as an example of how to pray for others.  Well now, let’s ourselves turn to God in prayer, and if you don’t mind I will repeat some of the words from our scripture.

All Mighty God, I do give You thanks that we have been given faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that You’ve given us love for all the saints.  Lord, we give thanks for one another, that You have shown Your love – the faithfulness of Your love – by saving others, reminding us of Your love for us.  Lord I pray that for all who are listening today that You would grant the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they may know You better.  I also pray that the eyes of each of our hearts might be enlightened in order that we would know the hope to which You have called us, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints.  And that we would also know the incomparably great power that You are working in us who believe, which is the same power that worked in Jesus Christ to raise him from the dead, to set him at Your right hand and to put him above ever power and dominion and authority in all creation, both in this present age and in the age to come.  We thank You, Oh Mighty God, that this is Your prayer for us, not just Paul’s, that this is Your word, and we stand on it with confidence.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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Once again, thank you, our listeners for your encouragement and support.  You do keep us on the air week by week.  If you can support our ministry financially we certainly appreciate that.  You can make out a cheque to Good News Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 184, Rideau Ferry, ON, K0G 1W0, or you can donate through our website, especially if you’re already on our website listening to the podcast of this broadcast.  Once again thank you to Sandy Davidson for your support of this program today, and I want to encourage each one of you to worship in a church where the gospel is soundly proclaimed and lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve.  And so, to conclude our program, I’d like you to listen to a song called Take My Hand Precious Lord.  This is sung by a Winchester native, George Beverly Shea from his album I’d Rather Have Jesus. 

 I do pray that the Lord will hold your heart and you would know Jesus personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart, and may the heavenly Father surround you with His constant and abiding and accompanying love.

- Take My Hand Precious Lord, George Beverly Shea -

End.