INFLUENCE - Prayer

Pastor Terry Inman

3-18-12

 

INFLUENCE - prayer

If you weren't at the "58" movie last Sunday night you truly missed out on a life changing experience. It was like all of us took a missions trip together and God showed us his heart for a hurting world. This film is so compelling that we want to make sure you have a chance to see it. We will be hosting a second showing of on Wednesday March 28th at 7pm

In response to the film and the message of Isaiah 58 I am asking you to join me in fasting and prayer from now until Easter Sunday. God wanted his people to do more than their annual religious fasting.

Maybe you’ve heard of the movie, “pay-it-forward” well he wanted them the Fast-Forward. He told them to liberate people from oppression. Share their food with the hungry. Shelter the homeless and hungry. Cover the exposed and especially have compassion on their own flesh and blood. 

He said, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” ISA 58:10 NIV

The Lord impressed me to ask you to join me in a 21 day Daniel fast. Like Daniel we will abstain from he called “choice” foods like the meat and wine of the kings table. We will opt primarily for a vegetarian diet.

You can read about it in Daniel chapters one and ten. There are also several web sites with greater detail, just Google Daniel Fast. It is a very popular way to diet for physical, mental and spiritual health.

As a result of this kind of fasting Daniel and his friends were ten times wiser and healthier than all the Babylonian king’s diviners. As a Jewish exile Daniel received many incredible revelations; his life was spared on numerous occasions and he was promoted during several administrations. Most significant were the visitations and revelations he had of Jesus Christ. Only John, in the book of Revelations, parallels this. 

We will fast and pray for two reasons: a closer relationship with Jesus and a clearer revelation of His vision for our personal lives and our church.   

We began this year with the Harbor 2.0 series an upgrade on our four purposes. We believe God is directing us to maximize our efforts around our first purpose: Rescue: guiding people to safety in Christ.

This was followed by a couple messages on vision. “Where there is no vision (visual revelation from God) the people are unrestrained (they are out of control, they run wild)but blessed is he who keeps your word.” Prov. 29.18 (NIV) A God given word keeps on the right path.

Some of us are not so good at asking for directions and some of us are not so good at reading or following the directions. But God is helping us get some clear direction especially for rescuing the lost.

At the beginning of the year I was given an encouraging image from scripture. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah. 40.11 (NIV) That is a picture of RESCUE.  

Look at some of the words in this passage: tending, shepherding, leading, gathering, carrying, closeness, and gentleness. In the middle of it all is an expression of spiritual bonding. He carries them close to his heart!

God is asking us to lovingly and gently shepherd our family and friends into the safety of His fold. We are going to give birth to some spring lambs! Some of us are carrying newborns. We are about to give birth!  

The 58 movie was an incredibly powerful visual of all that God has been saying to us. Our connections groups are working on local outreach plans.   

At the conclusion I sat here on the stage and said, “I believe God want’s Harbor Light to be known more for what we do out there than what we do in here.” Then it dawned on me this week that a lighthouse is only a lighthouse when the light is beaming out of the house.

In one paraphrase of Phil. 2:15-16 Paul says we are too, Shine out like beacons of light in the darkness, holding out the word of life.”  

If we don’t we are just calling ourselves Harbor Light. David said Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psa. 119.105 (NIV)

The intense beam coming from the lighthouse lens creates a straight path though the dark tempest. If you stay on the path you will be safe. Getting off the path is very dangerous! God’s vision is creating clear borders.

The same light that rescues the lost guides the rescuers. We do a lot of good things here but God is refocusing our light for greater influence! 

The next three weeks we are going to talk about our Influence. Influence is our capacity or power to be a compelling force on, or produce effects on the actions, behaviors, and opinions of others.

So how can we maximize our collective influence to reach our community with the good news of Jesus Christ? As we approach Easter we are going to refocus on a simple biblical strategy. We call it PRAYER I CARE I SHARE.

It is based primarily on the model initiated by seventy-two followers of Jesus who were sent on mission to influence several villages Jesus wanted to visit. In Luke 10 Jesus commissioned his first group of city-rescuers. 

The bible says he appointed 72 “others” and sent them in pairs ahead of his planned visit. He gave them a vision for where they were going and what they were doing. You might call it a confluence of influence.

He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” And then added with a commanding verb…”Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10.3 (NIV)

Now it’s that “wolves” part of the vision that gets a little tricky. Let’s face it reaching out to the lost or un-churched can be a little threating to them and to us! There are wolves out there. That’s why Jesus gave his followers this prayer, care, share, strategy. After telling them to pack light, go straight and stay long he gave some very specific instructions.  

“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. In other words pick the low hanging fruit. Find the ripe people!

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. In other words hang out and get to know people take your time.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’  Luke 10.4-9 (NIV) Jesus was always around a table!

We will make some simple applications of this strategy for our culture in the next three weeks but it all starts with prayer.

Ed Silvoso in his book on Prayer Evangelism says, “Talk to God about the lost before you talk to the lost about God”. 

So the focus of our fasting and praying over the next twenty-one days is going to be for fresh vision and passion to rescue the lost. We are going to ask God lead us to people of “peace”, people that are at least responsive and receptive to us.  Ask God for divine appointments!

We are asking God to give us influence. These people may be family members or friends. They may in the marketplace, in our workplace or in our neighborhood.  They are people in our circles of influence!

Matthew’s version of this deputation is very descriptive of the lost, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Matt. 9.35-38 (NIV)

This is what I call the harvest of the hurting. Jesus looked at people with compassion. They were like sheep in the midst of wolves. They were victims of the predator. They were “harassed”. They were attacked and abused. They were helpless. They were beaten down and couldn’t get up.

Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.   John 10.10 (NIV)

So the first thing we do is pray to the Lord of the harvest. Ask him to send us into this hurting harvest. Ask him to give us His compassion. Ask him to give us his wisdom. Prayer with fasting will do that. It will sensitize us in ways that nothing will.

Fasting forward…will help us pray with greater influence and insight. We will be more aware of the predator’s schemes and more equipped to free people from his grip.

Daniel’s prayerful and insightful influence was felt. He fasted and prayed three times a day before an open window. His political adversaries told the King he was violating a decree to bow only to the pagan gods. Speaking of predators Daniel was thrown in a lion’s den!

After 24 hours the Kings looked in on him. Daniel told him not to worry the angel of the Lord had shut the mouth of the lions. Daniel’s detractors became lunch for the lions even before they hit the ground. 

The Persian King made a decree, “In every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Dan. 6.28 (NIV)

Fasting and Prayer emboldens and enables our testimony. Prayer protects us from the adversary’s tactics. Prayer changes the spiritual atmosphere. Prayer penetrates the darkness around people.

The bible says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  2 Cor. 4.4 (NIV) Prayer opens their eyes!

In Luke 10 when the 72 followers of Jesus returned from their mission to the villages. They were excited about the results. They returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. Luke 10.17-19 (NIV)

Rescuing people can be dangerous. Prayer is our first and most powerful weapon. Jesus told his followers to enter the house and bless them. “First say, ‘Peace to this house.”  Luke 10.5 (NIV)

This word for peace means harmony, tranquility, safety, and welfare. It also suggests reconciliation. Paul says, God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  2 Cor. 5.19-20 (NIV)

Blessing our lost family and friends is a supernatural strategy. Pray that God will bless them with peace, harmony, and health, even wealth. Pray that they will be reconciled to you, their families, and their God.

This kind of prayer and fasting will bring down the forces of darkness and bring your friends into the kingdom of light!