TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, February 21, 2021 | They Prayed

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Today, I want to share with you a message from the book of John chapter 11. I'm going to be reading from the New Living Translation here in just a moment. But before we go into that passage of text, I want to remind you of just a story that I heard and it was about a town that had been very conservative in its values, very traditional. And they didn't really have much of a nightlife. In fact, there was no nightclub in their entire zip code. So there was a man who decided that they needed a little liveliness. And so he set out to build and establish a nightclub. Well, there were some folks there who got concerned about that, and they decided that they needed to pray about this. And so they went down to this place, this nightclub that was deconstructed, and these people got out, and they began to pray. And they just began to ask God to curse that place. And they began to ask God to close that place, and that they wouldn't be able to even be opened up. Well, the next day, there was a storm, and lightning struck that nightclub. The nightclub caught on fire, and it burned to the ground. Well the nightclub owner sued the people who had been there praying. Well, when the judge began to read over this lawsuit and what the plaintiff and the defendant had to say, he came to this conclusion. He said, no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear, the nightclub owner believes in prayer, and the Christians do not. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, I believe prayer changes things. And I know that you believe that as well, that prayer changes things. I want you to look with me at a passage of text, it's John, chapter number 11. And we're just going to read two or three verses there. We'll start with verse one. It says “A man named Lazarus was sick, and he lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” So we read verse one, then we dropped to verse three, I want to read it again, just for the sake of emphasis, because I may not go back and read this verse a lot during the message, but I'm going to reference it quite a bit. So, please lean in. Turn off all those distractions around you. I believe the Lord wants to encourage you today. “A man named Lazarus was sick, he lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, Lord, your dear friend, is very sick. Your dear friend is very sick. What we see, I believe in that passage of text is a type and shadow of prayer. Mary and Martha, I believe they're teaching us in 2021, through their example over 2000 years ago, what prayers to look like. We see them in a pursuit of the earthly Jesus. But we know that now Jesus has resurrected from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and there now according to Scripture, he makes intercession for us. And so we are in pursuit of the heavenly Jesus, that he would make his power and his kingdom manifest here on earth. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so what happens with Mary and Martha is they have a relative that they love, it's their brother, his name is Lazarus. And Lazarus also happened to be, according to this passage of text, a very good friend of Jesus. And Mary and Martha see that Lazarus is sick, and they're extremely concerned about this, and they reach out to the Lord. This verse said that they sent a message to Jesus. I want to show you just a handful of things that I see sticking out to us from these two verses that we read. First thing that I want you to see is this, “they prayed to the Lord.” You might just want to say that out loud to somebody or put it in the comments. “They prayed to the Lord.” Well, you're like, that's obvious preacher. I mean, they prayed to the Lord, they sent a message to the Lord. Well, it is obvious, but for whatever reason, sometimes we don't practice the obvious. I talked about this a few weeks ago in another message, and the point was this that I think sometimes we really need to learn that we have to be careful about having passive thoughts instead of active prayers. There is a difference between just tossing something around in your heart and tossing something around in your mind and worrying about it and trying to figure out how you're going to fix it and how you're going to make it right, versus actually seeking the Lord about it, sending the message to the Lord about, it petitioning the Lord about it, choosing to pray about it, that the passive thought actually becomes an active prayer. I love the fact that when Mary and Martha did not know what to do, they knew where to go. And this is in regards to a relative that is sick, and that may speak to you. Like, you may have someone you really care about that is physically sick. But I think maybe there's even a lot of us that could point to people that we really care about that are emotionally sick, and they are spiritually sick, and we're worried about them, and we don't know what to do for them, and it's affecting our relationship with them. And maybe they've even got some kind of hurt in their life, or hang up in their life, habit in their life. And maybe it's an addiction in their life. And it's just like  it's killing them. It is taking their life away, and they're very sick spiritually, emotionally. Well, you can pray for them. Like, don't just sit and worry about that lost son or daughter, open your mouth, call on the name of Jesus and pray about it. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And the next thing I want you to notice is that they prayed together. It says that this was Mary and Martha. And it says that Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus. They came into agreement Jesus needs to know about this. They came into agreement, we need to tell Jesus about this, and we need to petition Jesus about this. I wonder, do you have somebody you can come into agreement with like, do you have somebody that you can pray with. It might be a great time for you to consider being a part of a small group, especially if you've been thinking about maybe returning to in-person services, and you're just not really for sure if you want to do that yet. A small group might be a great first step for you to kind of get into that community and to begin to pray with other people and petition the Lord about some people that you know that are spiritually sick, emotionally sick. Maybe one of your kids is spiritually sick. Maybe your spouse is emotionally sick, like something's going on inside of them, you're really, really worried about them, Mary and Martha prayed together. Here's what I want you to notice. The Bible tells us according to the words of Jesus, that if any two would agree touching any one thing, they will have it. So what we immediately learn is that according to Scripture, there is power in agreement. You know, I was going to bring something with me today, and I actually forgot to bring it. But one of the members of our congregation, they gave me for Christmas, a Charles Spurgeon bobblehead. And maybe you know, Charles Spurgeon is, maybe you don't. But Charles Spurgeon from the 1800s is considered to be one of the greatest preachers of all time. He pastored, what was probably the first ever mega church, at least from the 1800s-1900s. And he had, they say, maybe as many as 25 to 30,000 people in his congregation. He preached about six times every Sunday, to standing room only crowds. And he was just known as this incredible soul winner and deliverer of the Word and yielder of the sword of the Spirit. And there's a story associated with Charles Spurgeon that there were five college students that showed up to hear him preach. They were interested in ministry, and they thought it would be incredible to go hear this great orator of Scripture. And so they got there, and they were going to get in line and make themselves ready to finally get in the building when the doors would be open. But as they're standing there, there's a gentleman who comes to the door, and he asked them, would you like to see our church's heating plant? And they thought, Well, I don't know that I'm here to see the heating plant, what makes this building be heated, but I don't want to offend this stranger. He seems like he's trying to be nice and cordial. I guess we'll go look at the heating plant. And so these five students follow this stranger back through the corridors of this church. And they go down as I understand it, maybe into like a basement area and, and then there's this door that opens up. And there are 700 people that are praying and crying out to God, asking the Lord to move in the service that was about to take place. They were coming into agreement that people would be saved, and that God would use their pastor and that there would be an anointing upon his life, and that yolks would be destroyed. And so this man looks at these five college students, and he says this, this is the heating plant of this church. This is what keeps the fire in this church. And then he introduced himself, it's great to meet you, my name is Charles Spurgeon. He was letting the people know you might be here to hear me, but the truth of it is, the only reason any of this has been successful is because somebody is praying in agreement and calling out to God. I'm telling you, prayer changes things. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

There's another thing I want you to see from this passage of text, and that is that, I believe the context of the verse, especially when you read all of John chapter 11, which we didn't take the time to do today, is that they prayed with urgency. Like, there was something inside of them. Notice the way it said, he is very sick. Like, we have to get this message to Jesus. We have to let Jesus know what's going on. He's very sick. I find in Scripture, according to the book of James, that Jesus is actually attracted to urgency. Here's the way that James said it. He said that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Have you ever really went to the Lord with a sense of urgency? Have you ever really went to the Lord with a sense of fervency? Like, there's a lot of things happening in our nation that's very troubling, very concerning. But have you ever really just went to the Lord with a sense of urgency about God, we need you to move in our nation, and I mean, truly cried out to the Lord. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, one of the things the Old Testament talks about is that how that people would cry aloud and spare not, and I'm not talking about just making a bunch of noise to make noise, I'm not talking about vain repetition, just for the sake of trying to prove how effective you can be at yelling at God. I'm talking about with reverence and with an awe for the incredible majesty of God that we would even have access to him. But to go in with a sense of urgency and a sense of fervency of God, I need you to move on behalf of my loved one. 

 

You know, I don't remember the last time that I was this concerned about a situation in our household, but we had been out this week sledding, and we finished sledding. And well, let me give you this a little bit more of a backdrop on that. We go out, it's just basically me and my son on this particular day. We were only out there for about 10 or 15 minutes, and I heard him kind of complaining about his hands being cold. And I was actually challenging him a little bit to toughen up. And then when we came into the garage, and we start a fire, he still kind of complaining about his hands kind of being cold. And I was trying to help him get warmed up. And then I noticed he kind of started getting a little bit pale, and he just looks at and he's like, hey, Dad, I think I'm gonna pass out and I said, well, son, if you're going to pass out, you need to probably lean forward. I've always been told put your head between your knees. I'm coaching him through that. And as he went forward, he went out. Like he just passed out. And I caught him. And then I couldn't get him to wake up. Like, I couldn't get my son to wake up. Like maybe a minute passes, and we realized something's wrong. We call 911. My wife stays in the garage to work with him. I run over to the garage, I get the car. When I get the car back to the other garage. To explain that, we have an exterior garage, and then we have a garage connected to our home. The vehicle was in the one connected to our home. So I'm driving this car out, and when I get back, he's still out. We're shaking him and waking him. And I'm gonna tell you, man, we did some crying out to the Lord. And even in that moment, I was thinking about people who have lost children and how my heart hurt for you. And how I cannot imagine the pain that is associated with that. And in that moment, the uncertainty of is my son going to wake up? Or is he not going to wake up? And is he getting oxygen and I mean, all those things was just I've never had a feeling like that. And it brought a level of empathy and compassion to me, for people who've lost loved ones that I've never personally known before. We did get him to the ER and after 10 or 15 minutes, he finally came around. And to this moment, we still don't know exactly what happened. I mean, they said maybe he was warm, then he went outside and he got too cold. And it triggered a nerve in his brain and everything shut down. I don't know, all I know is it freaked me out, it freaked my wife out. And we were like, you get into this place where even if you're not saying it in front of everybody inside, you're screaming like God help, God do something, God move. And I thought about how, you know, really anyone that's not saved is a lost son or daughter, and they are on the verge of a geographical location for all of eternity that's not good. And I'm glad to know that my son is saved and that he is given his life to Jesus. And he's went public with his faith, and he's been baptized, and we're grateful for that. But I want you to think about all the last people right now that there are in the world, and how they are wrapped in the grave clothes of sin and they are very sick in their spiritual sin, and they need somebody to cry out for them and to plead to God for them, and be like God move on their behalf. And maybe this is even a place with urgency where you could say, Lord, show me how I can be wise, how I can be compelling, how I can be used by you to win somebody to the Lord that happens to be far from you at this particular moment. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so just to kind of recap where we're at in this message, the first thing is that they prayed to the Lord. The second thing is that they prayed together. The third thing is that they prayed with urgency. And I want to show you the fourth and final thing. They prayed with submission. And in order to evaluate that we have to actually come all the way back to the first thought that they prayed to the Lord. Now this fourth thought is they prayed with submission. So the first point that we tried to make is that they had to direct the prayer actually to the Lord, like it had to be directed to God. It couldn't just be a thought, it has to be a message, a petition, a prayer made to God but submission to the Lord. In that verse, when they called on him, they literally said, Lord. So it's John chapter 11, verse number three, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” They specifically called him Lord. That implies submission that they are submitting to him, that they are submitting to his will. And if you read all of John chapter 11, the storyline takes some turns that Mary and Martha were not pleased with. They had submitted to him, but at the same time, they began to struggle with the way that he was bringing this prayer to fruition and answering it. There were some valley moments in prayer and in this experience that they had with God in the moment, but they still started out with submission. When you call someone, Lord, you're saying that they have power, that they have authority, that they are your master, that they are your ruler. You know, we live in a republic, we have a democratic understanding of everything. We understand we get to vote who goes into office, those kinds of things. And we all have a political viewpoint probably that we feel pretty strongly about. But when you are in a kingdom, and you are serving a king, or you are acknowledging someone's lordship, you don't get an opinion. Like it doesn't matter what you think the Lord's will, is going to be established. And did you know that when Jesus taught us how to pray, in what is known as the Lord's Prayer, which is recorded in Matthew chapter six, and Luke chapter 11, we are taught to pray, “Lord, let your will be done.” The way he says it is, “Let your kingdom come,” so the kingdom of heaven to come in earth, “and let your we'll be done.” And so I think it's a great way to pray. And I do believe that it is the Lord's will to do good things for you. In fact, the Bible tells us that the Lord has good plans for us. Plans to Prosper us and plans to give us a hope. So, God's got good things in mind for you, and God wants to do good things for you, and  you need to believe that.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

In fact, Scripture goes as far as to say that all things work together to the good of those that love the Lord. What you have to learn, though, is that sometimes the way that God chooses to answer our prayers is not the way we would have thought he would have answered it. He doesn't always go about it the way that we would have wanted him to go about it, especially

when we're praying for somebody that we really care about. And Mary and Martha are praying about somebody that they really care about, they love their brother. And they have a very clear picture of how they want this to turn out. But as they submit to the Lord, and they're praying together, God does ultimately answer their prayers, just didn't look exactly like what they thought it was going to look like. It's one of the reasons that I believe there is power in actually taking the physical posture of bowing on your knees when you pray. It's something the Church has gotten away from. It's something that a lot of Christians have gotten away from. And when you go before a king, when you go before a lord, there is an expectation that you will bow in reverence. And I think sometimes just having that private place with the Lord or maybe even in a time of public prayer, and just getting on our knees and bowing before the Lord, I think God wants to do this in some of your lives today. That you're watching on church online, you're watching on a podcast, you're watching through YouTube or some other means, and as this message unfolding, you feel the Holy Spirit doing something in your heart. And right now you're burdened for somebody that you know, is spiritually sick, emotionally sick, maybe even physically sick. And, and and there may just be a moment right now where you just need to get on your knees before the Lord and cry out to God with urgency. And also at the same time, submit that person, submit that situation, and submit yourself to the Lord and just invite God to have his way as he brings resurrection life to that situation. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And I was thinking about a story that I heard of a man who had climbed the Swiss Alps, and he climbed the highest point in the Swiss Alps; he had a guide with him. And he was encountering this horrible storm. And on the way up the mountain, they just had to fight storm and wind and all of these elements that were coming against them. And finally when they make it to the top, they are so excited that they've made, that this premier mountain climber just jumps up on top of the summit and throws his hands in the air. He forgot about the huge breeze that was blowing, the powerful wind that was just swirling, and it nearly blew him off the top of the summit. And as it does so, he would have went to his sure demise, it would have taken his life. And the guide that was within grabbed him and pulled him and brought him back down. And this is what he said to him. On your knees, Sir. You are safe here only on your knees. This man was on top of the world. He was on one of the highest mountain peaks in anywhere in the world. But even on the summit, he had to remember when the storm is blowing, that you are at your safest when you're on your knees before the Lord. Your marriage may be going through a lot, maybe it's just a moment where you get on your knees before the Lord. Maybe you even invite your spouse that might be a stretch for you, maybe prayer is not a common thing in your home, but to just get on your knees before the Lord together. Maybe there's a sick person in your home and you're really concerned about them, you're really worried about them. Maybe right now you just get on your knees right there beside that person that is sick. Maybe you've got a loved one that's battling addiction, and you're looking at them right now. And they're not even alert because they have the after effects of wrestling with that addiction over this weekend. And you just need or this day, whatever timeframe you're watching this in, and you just bow beside them and pray and invite God to move in that situation and call him Lord. Jesus is Lord, and ultimately at his name, every demon has got to flee. There is power in the name of Jesus.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want you to pray with me right now. Father, there are going to be men and women that are going to bow on their knees before you and lift a relationship to you. Somebody that's emotionally sick, spiritually sick, physically sick, God, I pray even maybe somebody right now which is get on their knees before you in the privacy of their home. Or maybe God they are in a public place, but they're going to maneuver themselves over to somewhere where they can just get along with you for a moment. And God, it's going to be a powerful moment. I pray that the kingdom of heaven would give them a download in their life. I pray Father that they would pray to us, Lord, that they would pray with a submissive tone with reverential awe, but that God they would also be willing to not hesitate God to pray with urgency and fervency, and that their prayer would be boiling hot. Let them pray for this nation. Let them pray, God, for their community, let them pray for their church, this church. I pray, God, that they would even pray for this preacher in his family that Lord, you would do your thing in our lives and that we would always be submitted to you. God, somebody today needs to give their life to you for the very first time. May they have the courage to get on their knees, throw their hands in the air, and submit their life to you.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Somebody else, Father God, it's not necessarily that they've never known you, it's just they're far from you right now. They've drifted, they're distant, and today, they need to rededicate their life to you. God, somebody else needs to go all in. They just kind of played religious games. It's been a religious formality. But today, God, they're going to bow on their knees, and they're going to go all in. And you’re going to fix God, their relationship and their life between heaven and earth. And God that's going to set the stage for a lot of other relationships to be fixed as well. Lord, let it be done in the name of Jesus, the name of Jesus.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Listen, I thank you so much today for giving me the chance to share the Word of God with you. And I've probably been all over the place with this camera. I tend to move around a little bit, maybe there's times where it was cutting my head off and different things. Hopefully you received the message and you received the Word of God. At the end of the day, that's the most important thing. This church exists for one reason, and that is because everyone needs Jesus. And if God did something in your life today, I want to invite you to go to 3trees.com. And I want you to just tell us what's going on. You can pick the button that best communicates what you want to share. But we would love to hear from you. We'd love to help you take your next steps with God. We'd love to pray for you, cheer you on. And, you know, maybe even consider getting into a small group. You can go right there to 3trees.com as well and pick a small group that's best for you and maybe even your family. And we encourage you to pick more than one small group and try 2 or 3 out and figure out which one's best for enhancing your discipleship walk with the Lord. Again, thank you for allowing me to be with you. I can't wait to see you again next Sunday. I promise you this, if you will go with God, he will go with you, greater things are yet to come.

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