Below is an automated transcription of this messageall right. Good morning, church. We’re continuing our series, “Who’s your one?” and we’ve accepted the challenge from my good friend Pastor J.D. Greer, who pastors a church in Raleigh, Durham. He’s challenged us to join his church and other churches across America in answering this question, “Who’s your one?” Who’s the one person that God put on your heart to share the gospel with and to pray for and see them come into the Kingdom. Imagine if every believer in their church could answer that question. Imagine if everyone here this morning could say, ‘Here’s the one person that God has put on my heart to talk to and invite to come to church. They come to Jesus and to be forever changed by His love. Just imagine if every one of us had a heart like that, saying that I’ve got one person that God has put on my heart. I just believe it would create revival in our city, and it would begin to change our world if we would just take it seriously.
You see, God, he cares about the nations. He commands us together, the nations, but he commands us to do it one at a time because he cares about the individual. In other words, he cares about you. He cares about you.
Remember the parable that Jesus told about how the shepherd, the Good Shepherd, would leave the 99 to go after the one that has gone astray. And he concludes that parable with this verse in Luke 15:7 (NLT) “…there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Truth is, all of us have gone astray, and Christ is the one who comes looking for us. We believe that it matters that we come to Jesus.
We’ve been giving these booklets out, starting last week. Maybe you weren’t here last week, and this is a 30 day prayer guide. If you need one, lift your hand quickly and our ushers will get one to you. Maybe you weren’t here last week and you don’t have one. We see hands popping up all over the place; hold them up until you get a prayer guide.
This is a 30-day prayer guide we started last week. I’m on day seven, but just start on day one. That’s fine; start when you get it. We’re going to give you a prayer guide and a bookmark. If you’ll notice, the bookmark has a little tear off on the top where you can write the name of the person that God has put on your heart. I thought I was going to write a certain name down already; I kind of had in my head who I thought it was gonna be. It’s a waitress that I’ve been trying to share the gospel with and talking to for some time at a local restaurant. Right when I got ready to write the name down, the Lord had me write another name. It’s my next door neighbor, a young man that lives next door to me. So I wrote his name down. His name’s on here, right on this card. So I’ve torn it off of the bookmark, and I’m going to drop it in there with the rest of our cards that we’ve been praying for since January. People who are far from God, that we’re praying will come to Jesus. We invite you to do that at the end of the service; we will give you an opportunity to do that. And here’s the thing. If you’ll just ask God, he’ll put on your heart somebody, someone He wants you to focus on.
Here’s the commitments we’re asking you to make: (1) Attend the sermons. If you missed last week, you could catch up. Go online and watch it. (2) Do the 30-day devotional; you’ll be amazed how it affects you. Write down the name of your “one” on your bookmark. As you look through the devotional guide, you’ll see that there are blanks in every prayer for you to keep writing their name, and there’s just something about writing that name over and over again that you feel the spirit working in you to prepare you to talk to them. (3) Pray daily, “Lord prepare the heart of your “one” to hear and believe the gospel and give me the opportunity to share it,.” Then, finally, (4) Be part of a small group where you can talk to each other about it and give each other an update on how you’re doing. And so that’s the challenge.
I love my small group; we normally meet on Thursday nights. This past Thursday night, I was telling them, “I’m gonna be standing up telling everybody to be part of this and then, like next week, it’s July 4th on Thursday. The week after that I’m going on the grandparent trip (I’m taking all the potty trained grandkids. Yeah, that’s that’s the minimum requirement. They gotta be potty trained before they go on the grandparent trip. We have a new qualifier this year, so I think we’re taking like, five this year. Five of our eight are going; we still have three that are in diapers. They’re not going.) So that’s the following Thursday. Then the following…. anyway, I had all these interruptions. I can’t do that. So my small group loves me so much that they moved to a different night of the week every week, just so I wouldn’t miss. That’s the beauty of small groups. Here we hear the word of God and we get the worship in. Your small group is where you really do church and you really become a family. So become part of a small group.
Okay, so here are the four words and they all start with the letter p that we’re focusing on. We introduced this last week. The first word is prayer. Evangelism starts with prayer. The next word we will study next week is presence; we will look for God’s presence. Where He is already at work. The third word is power; what we do when we share the gospel, we share it. We share it in the power of the Holy Spirit. The fourth word is proclaim; that’s where you finally share what God has done for the person. So these are steps and how to reach out to your one with the power of the gospel.
Today, we’re gonna focus on prayer. Here’s the thing I would say to you; prayer is not a footnote to evangelism. It’s not like a sidebar issue. It’s a priority issue. Picture this; prayer is like a plow that ploughs up the hard soil of the human heart so that when the seed of the gospel is presented, the heart is receptive. Prayer is very important. The truth is, no one here can save themselves. Nor can they save anyone else. Only God saves. And so we need to pray for that person that God’s put on our hearts. Amen. And so that’s what we’re talking about today. How to do that.
There are at least two types of people in the room right now. You are here this morning because somebody talked you into it; somebody invited you to church and you came. Maybe there’s something going on your life and you thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try.’ Here’s what I want to say to you. Even though we’re talking about prayer and some other things today, I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit wants to speak to you. That’s why you’re here today. And so maybe you’re the one. Maybe you’re the one that God wants to reach today, and that’s why you’re here.
There are others that are here; you’re a believer. You’re already a Christ follower. Here’s the challenge I have for you. Would you start making it a priority to share the Gospel, especially with those one that God’ has put on your heart? Would you repent of the fact that many of us are putting so many other things first? We have a list of excuses: I’m busy. I’m an introvert. I’m afraid to talk to people. We’ve got a long list of things that keep us from telling the good news to other people. We will talk about the weather. We’ll talk about sports. We’ll talk about politics. There’s just something that keeps us from sharing the good news about Jesus. Would you today lean in and say I really need this sermon? I need to really hear it. There’s a least two types of people in the room. We need to pray more muscular prayers. That’s what we’re gonna talk about; powerful prayers.
We’re gonna be looking in the book of Ephesians today. In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul was praying for the church of Ephesus and he prayed that they would remember how they used to be before God powerfully saved them. And as they would remember who they used to be, they would be able to pray for their one that God’s called them to reach so they would remember the state of mind they used to be in; the state of their soul, and so they could remember that God powerfully saved them. Only God can powerfully save.
How does the text teach us to pray? Well, that’s what we’re gonna be looking as we look at Ephesians, chapter two. We’ll see three areas or three ways that we can pray for the one person that God’s calling us to share the gospel with. So let’s read. This is the book of Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) “1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. This is God’s word. Amen.
We’re going to be looking this morning at these three areas where we can pray for the one that God has put on our hearts to share the gospel with. Here’s the first way that we can pray: (1) Pray that God would open spiritually blind eyes to see that Jesus is the only way. Pray like this; pray, “God open their eyes so that they can see that Jesus is the only way.” Look at verse one, it says, “and you were dead in your trespasses.” If someone’s dead, they’re automatically blind, aren’t they? If someone’s dead, they can’t see. Now look, this is saying that’s how all of us once were. And it’s also saying that’s how the one that is far from God, that God has put on your heart today, that’s how they currently are. And what do you mean, Paul telling us that we were dead? What does that mean?
You know, there’s a famous TV show, maybe not as famous as it once was, but still, I think, on the air. Somebody told me it’s still on the air and that’s the walking dead, right? You know, that’s a strange thing, but this is kind of what Paul is talking about here, that their bodies are alive, but they’re spiritually dead. That’s what he’s really saying. He’s saying you were born spiritually dead. How’s that possible?
Let’s think through the nature of humanity. First of all , we have five senses, right, five senses that allow us to be world conscious. We see, we hear, we feel, we smell and we taste. It allows us to know what’s on the outside of our body. Then we have a soul which psychologists might call an ego or a self. That’s the person you talk to when you’re alone. Sometimes some of you do it too much, and we’re worried about you. But anyway, that’s when you’re talking to yourself. That’s the self you’re talking to. I don’t think your dog does that. I think only humans do that. We have self consciousness, so we are world conscious, self conscious. But we’re born separated from God; we are born without spiritual consciousness. We’re not aware of God, and so that’s what it means to be born spiritually dead. We’re all born that way. It’s been like that ever since. Adam.
Look what it says in Genesis 2:17 (ESV) “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Speaking of the fruit; you shall surely die. So that’s God speaking to Adam and Eve. Did they die the day they ate of it? Well, not in the way you would expect. They did not die physically. What they did, in fact, do was they hid themselves from God because the minute they ate of it, they got the knowledge of good and evil, and they knew that they were in sin. and they went and hid from God. That’s what we do whenever we sin. We end up isolating ourselves from God. We hide from God. And so every child that’s been born since then has inherited the sin, the sin of Adam and Eve. We are all born spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins.
Here’s how Paul talks about it in the book of 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (ESV) “21 For as by a man came death… 22 For as in Adam all die…” It was not God’s best plan for man that death would be in the world. But sin came and out of sin came death. And so now everything that you see in this world, the suffering, the death, the difficulty, it came because of sin and we’re all born into it. That’s the person you’re praying for. That’s who you used to be; clothed in your trespasses and sins. Maybe another way of saying it would be the coffin that you were buried in your trespasses and sins. That’s how you used to be. Can you raise the dead to life? No. Only God can do it.
So as we’re praying for that one far from God, think about the fact that they’re clothed in their trespasses and sins. Now a trespass is an “oopsie.” It’s where we just can’t help ourselves. Were constantly tripping over sin, we’re constantly doing wrong. It has the idea of an undeliberate sin. So a trespass is a failure. It’s accidental. And so that word kind of takes on the idea of an error or a slip up. A non deliberate, false step from the path, whereas sin means missing the mark, which means you fall short of what’s good, and sin has more of a deliberate sense to it, more of a rebellious sense to it.
Now listen, all you have to do to discover that were born that way is have a conversation with a two year old. Have you ever done that? Have you ever had a conversation with two year old? A two year old is a sinner; just ask them to do something. They automatically want to do the opposite of what you tell him. One of the earliest sentences that all three of my kids were able to say, “Yes, I do it myself,” which is the attitude of disobedience called sin . I will do it my way rather than God’s way. That’s what sin is, its disobedience. It’s saying I’ve got a better plan. God, I’m not gonna follow your plan. All of us are wrapped up in their trespasses and sins, and we follow that way until Christ saves us from that situation.
A blind person is blind spiritually because they’re dead spiritually. And as a result, in verse two, it says, “they follow….” Look at verse two, “in which he once was…” So you once had the lifestyle of being spiritually dead in your trespasses and sins. Following what? the course of this world. In other words, the blind leading the blind. When we say the course of this world, we’re talking about the culture of the day. The greek word is actually the word for the idea of time or that moment, that age. So you’re following the age or the way of the world contrary to the kingdom of God. And so it’s the blind leading the blind.
I hate to keep bringing that illustration up with the walking dead right, but they don’t even know they’re getting ready to walk off a cliff. So not only is the person spiritually blind because of their sin, but they’re also walking in spiritual darkness in the course of the world. So how do we pray for this person? Pray, “God open their eyes so they can see; so they can see that Jesus is the only way because they’re following the course of the world.” And if you talk to them about it, they say, “No, my way’s good.” Here’s what they say, especially if they’re a teenager, “Mom, Dad, everyone’s doing it.” Everyone’s doing it. Well, of course they are because the whole world is on a broad path going through the broad gate. It’s the course of the world. The blind leading the blind.
The author of Proverbs writes this, Proverbs 14:12 (ESV) “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The broad way leads off the cliff. It leads to death and dying and suffering in this world. There’s great difficulty in this world; it leads to what’s called the second death in the Bible, which is a place of eternal existence, apart from God called hell.
Do you believe in hell? Do you believe it is a place of existence that the Bible talks about, that Jesus talks about? The person who has rejected God has chosen that future. That’s the situation that they’re in. So as we pray for them, we pray, “They’re blind and they don’t see. Lord open their eyes.”
I’m glad verse four and five are in this passage because it starts off saying, “But God” in verse forces. But God, that’s like one of the best phrases in the whole Bible. But God, here’s where we were. But God. I heard my sister say Amen back there, sister Chantia. She and my wife, Robin , taught that same course to the women of Uganda while we were there a couple of weeks ago. “But God” was the title of one of their talks. Right sister? In the language Rufimbera, it’s “Ariko Imana.” But God. That’s a great phrase. “But God, being rich in mercy…” full of mercy. He’s full of love. But God made us alive. That’s how we got saved. But God came and made us alive. That’s what I’m so happy about. Did he do it because of me? No, he did it because of his great mercy and love. It’s his character to save.
Here’s what Jesus said, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” That’s what we’re praying for, that one that you have on that card or the one you’re thinking about writing on that card. Lord help him to see Jesus; He’s the light of the world.
, It says in Psalm 146:8 (ESV) “the Lord opens the eyes of the blind…” Can you cause the blind to see? No, but you can pray. You can ask God, “God open their eyes.” Here’s a verse I’m going to repeat three times today. At least here is the first time I’ll say it. I want you to get this, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” The blind are on the course of the world. They are blindly following the blind on the course of the world. Why? Because they’re spiritually blind. Try to describe a color to a blind person. Try to define what a color looks like. Try to define spiritual things; they can’t see it. They’re spiritually blind. God open their eyes. God, you can do it. Help them see the true way.
When someone’s heart stops at the hospital, they do not call an optometrist. They call a code blue team to come in; they have been specialized in restarting stopped hearts. Yeah, it’s right. A dead person is blind, but they don’t need an optometrist. They need to be made alive. But God. They need a “But God” movement. That’s what we should be praying for for that one on your card. We should be pray “God, I need you to give them a “But God” moment. I need you to intervene so they can see.”
I want you to think about that person that you care about right now. Maybe you get mad at him sometimes because you can’t believe they did that. Couldn’t they see that was a stupid thing to do? No wonder they’re in the kind of trouble they’re in because look what they’re doing. Look at the choices they’re making in life. Maybe you’ve got a child like that. Maybe it’s a parent. Maybe it’s a brother or a sister. You’re like, I’m just so sick and tired. They keep doing the wrong thing. Stop judging them because you used to be just like them. . Stop doing that. Stop being judgmental and angry at that and instead start praying hard. They are on the blind course there, tripping over things. They’re bumping into things. They’re doing the wrong things. They can’t see God. Open their eyes so they can see Jesus.
When Jesus healed, the man born blind, the Pharisees went to the man because after Jesus had healed him, he took off through the temple. The Pharisees asked him how it had happened because they all knew that he had been hanging out at the temple since he was a little kid. He was born blind. And here’s what he said in John 9:25 (ESV) …One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” He’s like, I don’t know who did it. Maybe I can find out, but he gets one thing. I know I once was blind, but now I see. See God can do that. But God. We’ve got extra impact cards at these tables if you want to fill one out. It says, “My long shot.” There are lines to write some names down for people that you know that are far from God. If this person gets saved, it’s a miracle because they’re so far from God. Well, see, that’s a misunderstanding . All of them are so far from God because they’re dead. They’re not mostly dead. They’re not a little bit dead. They’re spiritually dead and they are blind. They can’t see. Pray, “God open their eyes so they can see the one true way is Jesus because the way is not a path. The way is a person. His name is Jesus.”
Here’s number two. We’re talking about how to pray for the one that God’s put on your heart. (2) Unstop spiritually deaf ears to hear that Jesus is the only Truth. If you’re dead, you can’t see. And if you’re spiritually dead, you can’t hear. You can’t hear the truth because your ears are plugged up. But worse than that, they’re being whispered in. Let’s read and see what is causing this. Who’s doing the whispering, “and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of the world.” And then what else? What else is that person following? He is following ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Now who is this? This is Satan. This is the devil. This is Beelzebub. This is Lucifer.
Now I don’t mean to offend your modern ears. I know many of you are thinking that this is not real. Yes, it is. And if you think it’s not real, it might be because you’re under his deception. It is real. He’s called a prince because he’s not the king. There’s only one king, and that’s King Jesus. But he has been allowed for a season, and this is the season he’s active in. He’s been allowed to be the prince of the power of the air, and one way we might look at that is to say, that’s the unseen atmosphere around us. So he’s the prince of that arena. Another way to look at it like this because you might be asking,
Why did you talk about ears? I don’t see anything about ears. There it says they’re following the power of the prince of the air. Why are you talking about ears? Well, let me explain. How do you hear vibrations? In the air. That’s how you hear. If you’re in a vacuum, you can’t hear, because what your ears do is they interpret the vibrations in the air as sound. If you’re in a vacuum, there’s no sound because there’s no air. Who’s in the air; who is the prince of the air? He’s Satan, which in Hebrew means the accuser. He’s the liar. He’s the deceiver, right? He’s the one lucifer, which means angel of light. He’s the fallen angel who masquerades as an angel of light. He’s a counterfeit. So here’s the person. They’re spiritually blind. They’re following the course of the world. They’re doing it because everybody’s doing it. Then there’s an evil one. They’re following him and they don’t even know it. If we could pull back the spiritual veil and actually see that person that we’re praying for, you might see the demonic with an ugly clutch on that person.
You might visualize that satan is whispering constantly, as you’re trying to talk to your one, “That’s not true.” So you pray. You pray, “God, release them from the clutches of the one that they’ve been following unknowingly.” No one would follow him if they could see. But they’re blind and they’re spiritually deaf. And all they can hear is that which speaks to their flesh. And he’s really good at that.
Psalm 135:17 (NLT) “They have ears but cannot hear …”Remember how Jesus would begin all of his sermons? Read the four Gospels. He’d always start like this, “He that has ears to hear. Let him hear.” That seemed strange to me back in the day, and this will date me somewhat. But I am over 60. So forgive me. Back in the day of “Smokey and the Bandit,” people would come on their CB radios and they’d say, “You got your ears on?” Have you ever heard that? Thank you, brothers. One person over thereknows what I’m talking about. Go watch the movie. You’ll get it. It means, “Are you listening?”
But what did Jesus mean? Was there a problem? In the first century, were a lot of babies being born without ears? That’s not what Jesus was talking about. Do you have spiritual ears to hear because you’re the ones He is talking to. Has the father opened your ears so that you can hear the gospel? If you’re sitting here this morning and something is stirring in you and your hearing. That is God; that is not me. Don’t come up and thank me. I’m just dropping the seed that we’ve been praying that your heart would hear. And if he’s unlocked your ears and opened them, you better respond because there’s no guarantee he’ll open them again tomorrow. Let’s pray, “Lord, open them.”
You know, when Steven, the first martyr in the Bible, was being brought to trial and he was there and they were about to stone him, he said, in Acts 7:51 (NLT), “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth…” They wouldn’t listen to the gospel. He preached from Genesis all the way through to Jesus and they said no. They took up stones to kill him. He said, You’re deaf to the truth.
Satan is the prince. He’s been allowed a season of power. He empowers those that follow him so that even certain cults and false religions are able to put on signs and wonders that convince people. So he has power and he’s at work. He’s a spirit, so you can’t see him. He’s the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. That’s kind of a phrase that says we’re born into it, saying we’re the sons or the children of disobedience . Because, as I said before, sin is an attitude of disobedience.
In John 8:44 (NLT), Jesus speaking to those who were rejecting him, He says, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When satan lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So he’s in the air and he’s lying and whispering and deceiving and enslaving that one that you’ve written on that card. Then they break your heart. They don’t need your judgment. They need your prayers. That should just break your heart so that you have no judgment left for him. You just love them. You just want them to know they can be set free so they can hear the truth.
In Isaiah, he prophesized that when the Christ would come when the Messiah would come, that he would unstop ears, unstop deaf ears. He said, Isaiah 35:5 (ESV), “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” Christ came and did that very thing . He sent His disciples to say, you know, Jesus, are you really the Messiah? Are you the long awaited one? Here’s how Jesus answered in Luke 7:22 (ESV). He answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. Go and tell John that I am the fulfillment of the prophets and I unstop deaf ears. You see, Jesus is the only truth.
Remember I told you I’d keep repeating this one verse. Let me do it again, Jesus said to him, “I’m the way and the truth…” The way is not a path, it’s a person. And the truth is not a philosophy, it’s a person. It’s Jesus. He’s the truth and the life. “No one comes to the father except through me.” Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:25-26 (NLT), “25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” They can’t hear the truth because they’re deaf to spiritual things. And on top of that, they’re being deceived by the evil one.
Can you pray for their predicament? We go through this world and we are often….I just want to say this…wee often live like Christian atheists. We believe in Christ. We believe he saved us. But we don’t pray and we don’t pray for the lost people around us. We just let them stumble blindly off the cliff. We just let him stumble blindly with the demonic whispering in their ears so that they believe every lie that they’re being told.
Isn’t your heart breaking? It should be breaking. I think revival will not begin in this church and in this city until our hearts break for the predicament of the lost. Who’s your one? Who’s your one? (Well, you know, I was so busy last week.) Come on, come on, Who’s your one? (You know, I have time to write down one person’s name and think about how they need the Lord.) Who’s your one? Jesus said. “I’m the truth.” He’s the one now. What does this mean for evangelism? J. I. Packer asked this question: “What does this mean for evangelism? It means quite simply that evangelism cannot possibly succeed. However clear and cogent we may be in presenting the gospel, we have no hope of convincing or converting anyone. Can you or I by our earnest talking break the power of Satan over a man’s life? No. Can you or I give life to the spiritually dead? No. Our approach to evangelism is not realistic until we have faced this shattering fact and let it make its impact on us. Regarded as a human enterprise, evangelism is a hopeless task.”
We must pray. We must pray. And we must have faith that God can save the one that he has put on our hearts. And we then in obedience, share the seat of the gospel. Will you pray that God would break the power of the prince of the air that’s deceiving the one that God has put on your heart?
Here’s number three (3) Enliven spiritually dead hearts to believe Jesus is the only Life. So we’re spiritually blind we are spiritually deaf, and we have hearts that beat for the flesh, but not for the spirit. So we’re spiritually dead at heart. So we have bent passions and desires. We don’t have the ones that God gave us . They, the ones he gave us, have been twisted by our spiritually dead hearts. Let’s look at verse three, “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” This is among whom we all once lived. Speaking of the sons of disobedience was the previous verse and the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. And we’re by nature, children of wrath, like the rest of mankind, so that the person who is spiritually dead in their sins and trespasses, they are blindly following the course of the world, they are following the prince of the power of the air, who’s deceiving them and lying to them. They believe that which is false, right? You can’t believe what they believe. Well, of course they do, because they’re spiritually deaf. They can’t hear the truth. So they put a lie in the place of the truth and they put the truth in the place of the lie. They reverse the polls. Do you know that person? That’s the one you’re praying for.
And then finally, they have passions and desires that God gave them, but they’re twisted by their spiritually dead hearts. The word passion here in the Greek is (ἐπιθυμία) – Literally, “over-desire. ” So a passion, it could also be translated lust. It means God gave you a desire. He gave you thirst so you would drink water, give you hunger so you would eat foods to sustain your life. So he gave you desires. But because we’re spiritually dead at the heart level, those desires have been twisted and bit so that we want things overly much we have over desires that are beyond our control. And so everything we want, we want too much of it. We want it too soon, and we want it in ways other than the way God says is best for us because we’re walking in the flesh. That’s how we used to be before God saved us and made us alive in the spirit.
When we say flesh, we’re not talking about the skin in the Bible. We’re talking about the sin nature. The flesh is the old man, the old nature, and so the sin nature is that which lives by its passions and desires. Give me more. More and more never satisfies. And so he says, That’s the condition you used to be in. And so when we pray, we pray for that person and you will see them all mired up in their addictions. And they’re in denial about it. And it’s ruining their lives. And their marriage is in trouble. And the older they get, the more mired up they get in their passions. They just want what they want and they can’t stop. And they say, “Everybody’s doing it and they’re in denial.” So pray, “God make their heart come alive so they would recognize that they are desiring that which is harming them . (People say I was born that way. God made me that way.) No, he didn’t. He gave you a good desire, but sin has twisted it.
Can you pray for that person? The more mired up in this that they are, the more difficult it is for us to pray for them because we don’t like them and they’re on their own. Families turn their backs on them because they’ve tapped out every resource. They’re so caught up in their passions and desires. But God’s called us to love them and to pray for them. So God set them free from the flesh, the passions of the flesh and the desires of the body and mind. And it says we’re, that phrase by nature, the children of Wrath. What does that mean? That means they’re already walking. It doesn’t mean they’re mad; it doesn’t mean they are angry kids. That’s not what it means. They were born under God’s judgment before they even got started in life because they were born spiritually dead. The wrath of God is already being revealed.
It says in (Rom. 1:18), so that “God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts” It’s already being revealed in this world; bad stuff happening in God’s good world. If he’s good, because the wrath of God is already here in that he lets us suffer when we sin. Why does he do that? I think it’s merciful. Have you ever prayed like this for somebody, “Lord, just let him hit the bottom so they’ll finally look up.” Why do we pray like that? Because we’re hoping they’ll get just so sick and tired of their sin that they’ll finally know it never satisfies and they will look up. That’s why we pray like that and God knows how to do that and so even his wrath in the present world. Dr. Swindoll calls it “judicial abandonment.” In other words, it’s not active. It’s more like he let go of the boat so that we can just float on down the river and get what what we’ve chosen. And if we get a taste of what we chose, we might say we don’t like it, look up and see if God’s got something better.
So you see how that’s merciful in a way that he lets the flesh get its desires, and then the flesh finds out it didn’t satisfy. So we see it all over; we live in a culture today where everybody says, “I I deserve this. I have the right to choose this.” Yeah, you do. But you’re killing yourself and you’re hurting everybody around you And why are they doing it? They are spiritually blind, spiritually deaf, and they’re spiritually dead. Only God can make them alive.
So we pray for them that God would stir up their hearts, stir up the hard soul of their hearts. So when they hear about Jesus, they will accept his life as their own. Look at what it says by nature, they are children of wrath. So It’s already in the present there, already suffering because they are children of wrath even now. But it also means that they’re already headed towards an end called the second death, which is a place of eternal existence called hell, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. But it’s also that place where God allows people to go when they reject him.
I don’t want anybody to go there. I don’t want anybody in this room to go there. Every week, I’m thinking, ‘How can I pray and how can I preach? And how can I see somebody that makes a decision, too? Open their eyes to Him. Come alive inJesus.’ I just think that’s the reason we’re here,people, is to tell others about Jesus. And so we’re already there by nature, children of wrath. But look what it says down there in verse five, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” So by nature, we were under wrath. But by grace, we’re saved.
How you want to live? I want to live by grace, which is God’s unmerited favor. Not by nature but by grace. Not children of wrath, but children of God. And I want you to be that way. And I want the one you’re praying for to be a child of God. Here’s what Jesus said. I told you I’d keep repeating it. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” I’m praying that God would bring to life hearts that are dead to come alive in Jesus. I want them to have a “But God” moment in their lives. And when he saves you, look at verse six and seven here, when he saves you, he not only saved you, but he raises you up with him. In other words, if you’re a Christian today, (I can see you’re sitting there. brother Danny,) I just want you to know something experientially. I see you there. I know you’re sitting there. I see you there, brother Chance, I see you there. But the Bible says positionally you’ve already been raised with Christ. You’re already raised. It’s already a done deal. It says as if it’s already happened because it has already happened. Your body just hasn’t caught up yet.
Not only that, he’s not finished, he says, “and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” . So that Christ is at the right hand of the father and I’m already seated there. So are you. So are you. And so is everyone here that believes in Jesus positionally. You’re already there. Your body just hadn’t caught up yet. That’s what the Bible says positionally. You’re already there and he’s not finished, Verse seven says, “so that in the coming ages…” Tthere’s a future coming. There’s a destination for you that’s coming in coming ages. “…He might show the immeasurable riches…” In other words, God’s gonna show off. You think you’ve seen a sunset. You think you’ve seen an ocean or a mountain? You think you’ve seen something beautiful. Maybe you’ve held a newborn baby in your arms. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things, but God is getting ready to show off someday and show you something you’ve never seen before. He’s going to just blow your mind with his grace, by grace, by grace, not by nature as you were born spiritually dead, but that you’ll be born again in the spirit of God and be children of God. And he’s going to show off. That’s what it says he’s going to show in verse seven. Look at it, look at it. He’s going to show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness towards us in Christ.
There’s a day coming, friends. You’re gonna see some things, God’s gonna show off his grace like you’ve never seen before. And we should be inviting everyone we know. Come and go with us, Jesus said. Or rather, John writes in his gospel, “But to all who did receive Jesus, receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.”
Listen, have you done that? Have you prayed that prayer? Have you asked Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins? You know, as I’ve been reading this little booklet sitting out on my screen porch in the morning, I’ve written down the name of my next door neighbor. He’s a young fella. He’s probably about the age of one of my children, and I like him. I’ve talked to him several times. I’m an outgoing kind of guy, so I talk to him and he talks to me. Since I’ve been writing his name down for seven straight days, my heart breaks for this guy. I think it was like day five or it might have been day four. I don’t know. I was reading this prayer “Father. I know what it’s like to live as a slave to sin. The inability to stop crushing guilt and shame, the longing for something more. It breaks my heart to consider that Jeremy, that’s my neighbor’s name, experiences life apart from you, Right when I was praying that, like reading that and turned it into my prayer, he stepped out the back door of his house and called for his dogs. He does it all the time. He’s got like, a really low baritone voice. He’s calling his dogs by name. Normally, when I’m having my spiritual quiet time out there on my screened porch, it frustrates me a little bit. He interrupted my thinking. You know, like there’s my neighbor calling for his dogs. (I’m just like you. I’m saved by grace. I pray for me.) But that’s not what happened this day. I heard his voice, and it sounded like my son. It sounded like my family. I gotta tear. I started thinking I really love him. That’s cause I’ve been praying for him every day. This stuff works.
Pray; ask God to open their eyes. Ask God, to unstop their ears and ask God to bring their hearts to life. When you join me in this?
Let’s pray. Father, first. I pray for that one that’s in the room this morning that came in far from you, but they don’t want to leave that way. Is that you, my friend? I’m praying for you right now that God would unstop your ears, open up your eyes and cause your spiritual heart to start beating right now. That’s what you’re feeling right now. That disturbance you feel in your soul right now is the Holy Spirit. He’s after you. He’s searching for you. You are his one today. Would you say yes to him right now? Would you pray with me? These words are not the most important thing. The most important thing is the faith in your heart right now. But if you believe these words, say them with me, “Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. But I want to you to save me. I believe you died on the cross for me, that you were raised from the grave and that you live today. I invite you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin and make me a child of God. I receive you as my lord and savior. I will follow you all the days of my life.” Are you praying that prayer right now? I hope you are because you’re the one he’s looking for. Others are here today and you’ve received Jesus as your Lord and Savior. But you want to repent. You want to repent today of not talking about him to the ones that are far from him. Would you say, “Lord forgive me. I know you’ve commanded me to tell others, and I keep making excuses. But Lord, they’re just that Please forgive me. Help me to start praying for the one you put on my heart. And I pray right now. Lord, not only would you prepare their hearts to hear the gospel, but I pray you give me the opportunity to share it with them. Lord. I say yes to the command you’ve put on our lives to share the gospel in Jesus name. Amen.”