Sunday, March 25, 2012

Everyone did as he saw fit-or how is your prayer life? あなたの祈りの日々は?

#16 Everyone did as he saw fit…or How is your prayer life?
JUDGES ( 士師記) 17:5-7  5 Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
JUDGES 21:24-25 24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
Just before the 17th chapter, Samson died.  Soon the nation was in ruin once agin as they left the God who loved them.  Just before chapter 21, Israel was entangled in massive sin.  And as we look through the whole of Scripture, we can find one incident after another where people make wrong choices that ended in deep personal loss and even death.
As we have seen so far in our “Walk Through The Bible” these footprints or fingerprints of God are all over human life.  We then come to this sad story where the human heart becomes void of the knowledge of God.  In both situations, it was after much Godly contact and concern. During the many years before this event, God had provided much—all they needed for life and godliness.  He had protected them from the Egyptian armies, lack of water and food – God provided for them. He protected them from wandering tribes who had evil intent toward them. They had witnessed walking thru the sea on dry ground. (Their parents had told them these stories) They had taken a major city by walking around it for one week.  They had seen the Promise Land open to them. More than that, HE had been visible in front of them-yet they walked away from God.
And now that most of that promised land was theirs, they begin to forget the things of God. They put aside His commands.  They disregard His Law. 
Not to unlike life for us today, isn’t it?  We have seen the Hand of God in our lives and yet we walk away from Him.  Stealthily, (こっそり) we take a spiritual break from a Godly devotion. —At times, we may not even be aware of the drift. Slowly but surely, our hearts become colder to the things of God.  We become lukewarm.  We have left the God we loved.  We have allowed our life to walk in a different direction.  We could even argue that it is not going that way, but if we become honest with ourselves, we have journeyed far from the path He would have us to be on.
One of the areas we forget to keep current is the area that most of us fall short in.  Ready? Our prayer life. 
Can’t you just see how it happened for the Hebrew People? There was land to take. Cities to lay waste.  People to kill. Land to possess.  The hard, day-by-day events soon became routine.  Another village to burn down. 
More blood to shed. Just following the commands of the Lord.  Wipe out all the people.  Slowly, as you see from reading these passages, slowly, they left some towns untouched.  Some of the tribes, they just went around.  Some of them were really wicked people but they were pretty strong.  One group of people deceived the Jews into believing that they were from a far away land—like the Jews and wanted to make peace with them.  Problem: They were from the next valley and they wore worn out garments and carried moldy bread to trick the Jews into believing they were from far away—sojourners like the Jews.  “We are like you.” But they did not check with God.  No prayer. Just did as they saw fit and made a peace treaty NOT to hurt them in any way.  Soon, they realized these people were neighbors and had lied to them.  But the treaty was made.  They had to honor their word.  God was not happy with the Jews and they were not happy with it either.
Had they only took the time to pray.  Had they only acted on the Heart and not the situation, all would have been better.  But they lacked time before the Lord and they lost out big time.
Remember when Jesus took the 11 into the garden before He was arrested and taken away from them?  What did He say to them?  Look up Matt 26:36~46; Mark 14:32~42.
Sit here while I go over there and pray.
Stay here and keep watch with Me.
Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
He came back and found them asleep again—left them to return to pray and returned and said: Are you still sleeping and resting? Look the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let is go!
You can see, can’t you that life is really one struggle after another.  Paul writes about this struggle he has and he helps us see that we too are in this same struggle.  “Fight the good struggle of Faith.”  信仰に関して良く格闘し戦う The good fight.  And go and struggle in the Power of Christ. Paul encourages his young pastor in training, Timothy in 1 Tim 1:18 and 6:12 to do so. 
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight,わたしの子テモテ、あなたについて以前預言されたことに従って、この命令を与えます。その預言に力づけられ、雄々しく戦いなさい、
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.信仰の戦いを立派に戦い抜き、永遠の命を手に入れなさい。命を得るために、あなたは神から召され、多くの証人の前で立派に信仰を表明したのです。
We might struggle with all sorts of things in our life right now and it may not be always struggling with sin.  It might be hard BECAUSE we are doing right.  We might be in a struggle because we are on the front line of spiritual battles.  If you are there, you know very well what it is like. You are fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Being so far away from Paul’s friends at this time—while he is in Rome and in jail, he had a deep struggle.  Not that he regrets his imprisonment, he longs for the growth of these followers of Christ. He just misses his friends!
It is a long distance from his friends at Colossi. We know about that don’t we? Some of us have loved ones who are far from us—both physically and emotionally.  We struggle.  Here Paul’s heart is torn as he is in Rome and in jail yet can say, “I am there with you.  My life is tied to yours.”
Two Questions:
#1 Where does this struggle take place? この格闘はどこでおこるのか?
As we have said-- in jail.  Col 4:18 he writes: I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” He writes this as the chains run across his parchment.  He is not in a Roman resort but in a smelly cell—miles away from home…far from those he loves.  He has every reason to be stuck in his pain but he is not.  He says he struggles but not because of his chains.  He asks them to remember something that he cannot forget: Remember his chains.  A plea for sympathy?  It was to them to remember his chains of authority.  Back on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him in Acts 9:16 “I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.”
#2  What did the struggle involve?   何がこの格闘に含まれているのか
Separation.   He is not on the front line of evangelism. He is locked up—seemingly forgotten.  He wrote that many have left him. He might be asking WHY ME? Why now? But these are not real questions for him. The struggle is not for Paul but for those he loved.  The Followers from Laodicea, Colossi.
He has hit on the BIGGEST struggle in the Christian life! The biggest struggle is of a life of Prayer.  You could say to me that this is not a struggle at all for you—because you don’t have a prayer life at all.  That would be sad and would be damaging to your walk of Faith.  
You could say: No struggle for me as I always ask God to bless my food… the only prayer you do all day…or for a parking placeor for this problem you are facing to end, but for the most part, your life is prayerless.
We have a five min prayer time during the service… it might be ever so long for you. (He is not looking for the long prayers of the Pharisees)
At this distance, this is the only real struggle Paul would have.  Even Epaphras in Colossians 4:12 had it for them. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.あなたがたの一人、キリスト・イエスの僕エパフラスが、あなたがたによろしくと言っています。彼は、あなたがたが完全な者となり、神の御心をすべて確信しているようにと、いつもあなたがたのために熱心に祈っています。 Struggling over them in his prayers for them.  Paul asks for us to struggle over him in prayer Romans 15:30. I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 兄弟たち、わたしたちの主イエス・キリストによって、また、“霊”が与えてくださる愛によってお願いします。どうか、わたしのために、わたしと一緒に神に熱心に祈ってください、
 War Zones
#1 Personal Private Devotional Prayer  個人的な献身的な祈り
#2 Praying with others  他者と祈る
#3 Cooperate Prayer  共同して祈る
Prayer is where the real action is.  The people in Judges stopped praying to God.  They lost the connection with the Divine.  Lost interest—really did not care!  And doing that, lost power and lost out in life itself.
Don’t ever say: “All I can do now is pray.”  We need to start there and find ourselves there all the time.  Pray without ceasing.”  Whenever we pray, we are on the front line of Christian warfare.  That is how revivals started.  Old lame and blind women up on the island of Lewis in 1948 understood.   
They prayed and prayed expecting that God would act…and He did.  Not a program, but it started a revival that captured many into the Kingdom of Christ.  And God, out of His Grace gave His blessing to their prayers and thousands returned to the Lord and many put their trust in Jesus for the first time.
The devil knows and understands that. Read “Screwtape Letters” by CS Lewis for more on that.  For all of us—young person and mature, the evil one’s attention is drawn against our prayer life.  Not that we pray, no, but that we do not pray NOW. There is inside each of us a tendency NOT to pray…not wanting to really ‘do it!’  His goal is not to take us 100% out of the position of Prayer but to leave us with a desire only to pray.  So we know in our hearts what we want to do—and what we ought to do—then he attacks every other area to frustrate us knowing what we SHOULD do but unable to get where we need to be.  Praying.
         To be aware of this struggle is VERY normal. Anyone who is honest agrees there is a problem with his or her prayer life. Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. ガラテヤ 5:16  わたしが言いたいのは、こういうことです。霊の導きに従って歩みなさい。そうすれば、決して肉の欲望を満足させるようなことはありません。
Inside our lives, there is a civil war going on.  We know we need to pray. However, we can’t keep our hearts in an intimate relationship with God without prayer.
        Any work that is not founded in prayer cannot stand.  Any LIFE that is not founded in prayer cannot stand. As our Fellowship moves along, this work needs the support of your prayers.  Come to the Chapel during the week.   
        The building is open.   (9:00~4:30)
        Come with someone else and just spend 30-45-60 min in prayer. No coffee, cake or social talking—just the hard work of prayer. At 9:00 each Sunday, come to the second floor for a time of prayer. 
        No requestjust pray for God’s Spirit to move among us
        Ephesians 6:12 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. エフェソ 6:12 わたしたちの戦いは、血肉を相手にするものではなく、支配と権威、暗闇の世界の支配者、天にいる悪の諸霊を相手にするものなのです。
We know that is true.  It is not the aim of the evil one that we do not pray but that we do not pray NOW.
Augustine wrote: Lord, make me pure—but not tonight!
Lord, make me a prayer warrior –but do it a week from next Friday.
Let’s pray and not repeat the error in Judges; as they saw fit.