Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Privileges of Answered Prayer

Privileges to Answered Prayer
I Samuel 7:2-11

Let’s begin today with a moment of HONESTY and TRANSPARENCY:
Have you ever been in church—but church was not in you?
Have you ever come to worship and you just went through the motions?
Have you ever come to church and it seemed like everybody else was connecting in worship BUT you?
Have you ever been at the place where you were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing with the right people—but you had the wrong feeling?

Everybody else is singing and shouting and—though you are present and in the number—you’re just there. Upon the surface and at first glance, everyone else appears to be passionate, fervent, and full of zeal and life about their worship toward the living God and you just can’t seem to figure out what all of the noise and racket is all about.

I think I’ll begin with a moment of honesty and share with you that I’ve been there.
- Where it seemed like I just could not connect.
- Where I didn’t seem to fit into the overall plan and scheme of the purposes of God.
- Where the pieces of the puzzle just did not seem to fit together properly within the framework of God’s cosmic design.
- Where it seemed like I was disconnected and distant from the heart of God.
- Where it seemed as if I was away from the family.

In church—but didn’t have that ‘oomph’ that I thought that I was supposed to feel that inevitably could help me be who I knew that I was supposed to be as a son of the Most High God.

Preaching—but distant.
Teaching—but distant.
Leading and serving—but still sensing some disconnect from where I should be.

I am thankful and grateful that those moments and instances have been few and far between; but I also realize that most of the time when I have felt that way—it has not been God’s fault; it’s been MINE! More often than not the moments and instances when I have felt an isolation from God it was not because—somehow and in someway—that God had withdrawn Himself from me. But in some way or another—it was I who had strayed away from God.
Not prayed up as I should have been.
Not as devoted to the reading and study of God’s Word as I should have been.
Not obedient and committed to the cultivating of my intimacy and communication toward God as I should have been.

Have you ever been there?
- Where you didn’t have those private moments of prayer and devotion to God;
- Where you had strayed away from a passionate pursuit and passionate commitment toward the centering of your heart and your life in oneness and in sync with the heart of God through prayer and communication with HIM?
- Where you had strayed away from allowing your will to fall in line with HIS will and to flow with what God was up to through the practice and pragmatic approaches of prayer?
- Where you didn’t have the moments of meditation and devotion and as a result of a life void of prayer and devotion you just seemed to be floundering and faltering through the day?
- Just moving through the day without any aim or focus?

You’re in the church—in the right place at the right time with the right people doing the right thing—but the songs don’t mean anything; the sermon just doesn’t seem to have any flavor for you; it seems like it just doesn’t do anything for you at all.

That you’re going through the motions. That everything that is going on around you is just kind of lazze fare; doesn’t have much meaning; but just kind of floats on through; and you don’t really CONNECT to the point where you fit in with everybody else like you should.

And that is what is going on with our brothers and sisters called the children of Israel—the people of God, the chosen ones of the Most High God. Here in our text today, we have seen these brothers and sisters who have celebrated the fact that God has been returned to them as the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant represented the manifested representation of the presence of God; and now it was back in their midst. The Philistines had try to capture the ark and successfully they had captured it in years prior and had defeated Israel in battle; and they have removed from their presence the Ark of the Covenant which had symbolized the holy presence of the Most High God.
- They were depressed and they were defeated and they were distraught by the absence of the Most High God being in their midst; BUT the Lord had returned His presence BACK into the hands of the children of Israel.
- It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to have the Ark of the Covenant back among them and in their midst; and when we pick back up with them in chapter 7 of verse 2 of 1 Samuel, we see that the Ark of the Covenant has been in their midst for 20 YEARS…..BUT verse 2 says that they are still mourning, seeking after the Lord. There is a disconnect and there is something that is not quite right; they are not quite at the place that they need to be.
- They wish that they could sing and celebrate as they should but there is something that is not quite right.
- They are distant from the Most High God. And it is NOT God’s fault—the presence of God is there. But something in them has moved them from the place where they need to be.

But thanks be unto God, God always has a God-appointed, God-ordained leader who knows how to stand of before the people of God and tell them just what they need to hear so that they can move to the place that they need to be. So the Lord raises up a brother by the name of Samuel.
- He loves the Lord with all of his heart.
- He is sold out to the will and ways of Almighty God.
- He is a man who stands before God as one who has been both anointed and appointed
- He is one who is committed to following after the statutes, the decrees, and the laws and the will and ways of God.

Here is this brother named Samuel. And he has been raised up as the leader of the people of Israel.
- Their judge
- Their leader
- Their man for that time

And the Bible lets us know that this man knew what needed to be said/what needed to be done. Because when God anoints and appoints a leader, He knows how to give that leader the ability to flow in his or her divine appointed call and say just the right thing at just the right time to give you just what you need just when you need it most.

Is there anybody here who has ever been in worship not understanding what was going on in your life—but some kind of way when God started speaking through somebody somewhere to speak into your life just what you need, just when you needed it most.
- He spoke to your circumstance
- He spoke to your condition
- He spoke to your situation

Is there anybody here today who knows that that is just the way that our God is.
- When you need a word, He’ll speak a word.
- When you need deliverance, He’ll speak a word to give you deliverance.
- When you need a way out, He’ll speak a word just when you it most—to let you know that all you have to do is stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that Samuel stands before the people and tells the people—that if you sense a disconnect from God—ALL you have to do is get back to God!!!
If you can get back to God—then God will move in your situation/then God will move on your behalf/then He will magnify Himself in such a way that even your enemies can do you no harm.

You need to RETURN to the Lord.

He says it here in verse 3, ‘Return to the Lord with your WHOLE heart’.

Return (Hebrew word Shoowz) means to reverse, to give back, to go back, to restore, to revisit. And then he declares ‘with your whole heart’. Heart denotes the faculty of devotion and emotion. God says that He wants them to go back to the place of pure devotion, loyalty and gratitude.

Don’t give God half-hearted worship
Don’t give God half-hearted devotion
Don’t give God half-hearted commitment

He said, ‘Return to the Lord with your whole heart’.

And the bigger problem with these Israelites is that they had entered into this thing called syncretism. And syncretism is when you begin to mix idol worship with the worship of God. The Bible says that that is what the Israelites had done, they had begun to mix up the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal. Ashtoreth was the fertility goddess, the goddess of LOVE. And they had begun to mix and mingle in with the worship of God with the goddess Ashtoreth and Baal. And old Sam said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of these idols.’


And I believe that that is a word for somebody who is here today: Whatever it is that’s standing in the way of you and God—it’s time to get rid of it.

He says that whatever it is that is getting in the way of your devotion to God get rid of it and ‘commit yourself totally unto the Lord’.
- I know it’s not easy
- I know it seems like you have more fun out there than you do in here
But if you are going to get what you need from the Lord, you have to commit yourself totally to the Lord.

And this is a difficult message for somebody who is here today because you are trying to figure out:
- How you can have God AND the club
- How you can have what YOU want AND what God wants
- How you can please God AND stay in your bed
- How you can obey God AND not get up the stuff that you want
- How you can be holy AND drop it like it’s hot

And that is the struggle of anybody who has every classified themselves as human.
- You DO want to sin
- You DO want to do it your way
- You DON’T always feel like coming to the house of God
- You aren’t always up to laying before God in prayer

But there must be an understanding that life is not always just about what YOU want. Because what YOU want is not always what’s best for you/leads to destruction and disarray/is that which displeases the ONE who placed you here to begin with.

You have to COMMITT yourself to HIM and RETURN to the Lord!!!

The Bible says that when they decided they were going to return to the Lord and they were going to commit themselves to the will and way of God; and ONE of the privileges to answered prayer—is that when we commit ourselves to God…

I. We have a GOD Who receives us.

- When you remove the distractions
- When you eliminate every encumbrance that stands between you and God
- When you take out the middle man

The good news from the WORD of God is that God ALWAYS receives you!!!

- He never turns you away
- He never ignores you
- He never disregards you
- He never puts up a cold shoulder
- He never closes the door in your face
- He never removes the welcome mat
- He says you are always welcome in MY presence
- He always receives us
- He always gathers us
- Always accepts us/protects us/corrects us/directs us/insures us/matures.

Your God RECIEVES you BACK into the FAMILY!!!

And I think that’s a good word for somebody today. Because I’m trying to preach to somebody who is here today for somebody
- who’s walked away too far
- who’s strayed away too long
- who’s drifted away for no reason at all

The good news is that your God is ready to welcome you back with open arms; He says, WELCOME BACK, I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!

Our God is ready to receive us.

- Maybe you’re at rock bottom today. Rock bottom doesn’t mean anything to God. He made the rock!!!

Your failures and your mistakes don’t mean anything to God—because you can always begin again!!!

And that’s a good word for somebody who is here today who’s stayed away too long and drifted too far. You should never allow your failures, disappointments or even your setbacks to keep you from a God Who loves you and desires to have a place and play apart in your life.
- Yes you lost a child that you wanted
- Yes you had a child that you didn’t want
- Yes you had a sickness that you didn’t expect
- Yes you’re making less money but you have more bills
- Yes you were in the relationship that you have given your life to and now it has taken something out OF you
- Yes you even mess up so much that you had even given up on yourself

But let us ALL agree—that you ARE a survivor!!!

And never allow the failures or disappointments in your life to prohibit or inhibit you—RUSHING to the very God (the ONLY God) Who has given you another chance/another opportunity to start ALL over again.
- People said you aren’t worth it anymore…but He wants to receive you!
- People have said that you are no use…be He wants to receive you!
- You don’t even know if you will live to see next year…but He’s waiting to receive you!!!

Your God says COME HOME

Is that not the story of the prodigal son? The very story of the prodigal son teaches us about the very privileges of prayer/coming before the throne/the God Who receives us when you come and talk to Him. The prodigal son had enjoyed himself. He had been having a good time; he got all of his mammas and daddy’s resources and momma and daddy I’m tired of living in your house. He said, ‘I need my money—show me the money’. He got that money from daddy and the Bible says that he went into a far country, says the Word, and spent it all on RIOUTOUS living. Having a good time (‘Party over here’); had a good time spending his money on riotous living; folks were enjoying him while he had money/while he was paying the bills/was the spender of all of his resources.
- But when the money got funny….and when the change got strange…and when the pennies weren’t many—he found himself doing what no good Jew would ever do—he said he need to go slop the hogs. And he began to feed the swine and it got so bad that he contemplated eating some of the food of the swine himself in order to fill his belly. And the Bibles lets us know—that just before he drifted too far away/just before he made the bad move/just before he went too far/just before he made one more mistake/just before he offended daddy to the utmost.

The Bible says, ‘That he CAME to himself’. He said, ‘No…I’m not supposed to live like this/it’s not supposed to be like this/I’m not supposed to be in the pig pen with swine…I’m going back to my father’s house.’ And the Bible lets us know that when he gets halfway down the road, he daddy was waiting for him and ran up to him, gave him a big kiss, and he threw a party for him, and said, ‘This my son was dead, but he is alive again.’


Jeremiah 33:3; Jeremiah 29:11-12

Come home!!!
Come home!!!
Come home brother/sister!!!

Ye who are weary….COME HOME!!!!

I was talking to some members of our praise team and they said that at certain clubs, there’s a policy. They say that if you get to the club and you pay the cover charge; that SOME clubs will stamp your hand as PROOF that you’ve paid your fare to get in the club. And other clubs will give you a wrist band that says, ‘you’ve paid your fare, you can go into the party—and have a good time’. Enjoy yourself; ‘party all the time, celebrate good times come on’. It’s a wonderful thing going on to have the party AND because you have the stamp on your hand or the wrist around your hand….
- You can leave the party
- Go do whatever you need to do
- Go get whatever you need to get

Do whatever needs to be done while you’re outside of the party. But if you’ve got a stamp on your hand; and if you’ve got a wrist band on your wrist—when you come back from doing whatever you did, you don’t have to stand in nobody’s line/don’t have to pay an additional charge/don’t have to answer any questions/don’t have to tell anybody where you’re been. Just show the stamp/wristband—and you can walk through the barrier, walk straight into the party and have a good time.

COME HERE: I’m not just talking about any party; I’m talking about the daddy’s house. This party is 1600 miles wide and 1600 miles long. And you don’t even have to go to Him, He’ll come to YOU. When you’ve strayed away from the house too far/whenever you went out there and did whatever you did—the good news of the Word of God is—when you’ve been STAMPED with the name of the Most High God—when you’ve been wrapped up with the power and love of Jesus Christ—when God sees the image of His Son when you cry out to Him—He doesn’t ask you any questions/does not meet you with condemnation/doesn’t ask you where you’ve been because He already knows.

He just says, ‘Come on into the party and talk to me—you are WELCOME in the HOUSE’.

That’s the first thing—we have a God who receives us.

II. We have a God who relieves us.

I want you to watch the text—verse 5.

Sam says, ‘meet me at Mizpah’. Mizpah means ‘The Watchtower’. Samuel says, ‘Meet me up high!!! I want to get above the fray/above the drama’.

He says, ‘I know that the enemy does not like the fact that you’re prospering—they can stay where THEY are; but YOU meet ME at Mizpah…Because I’m going to talk to the Lord on your behalf.’

I like that. This is a praying leader. This is a prayer leader!!! He says, ‘I’m going to talk to the Lord on your behalf; I’m going to intercede for you.’

And the Bible says that as Samuel begins to pray that the people begin to sacrifice unto the Lord.

- They poured out water
- They fasted
- They confessed before the Lord
- They repented of their sins

They said that we don’t want to do that anymore; because when you come back home, you ought to repent and declare, ‘I’ll never do that anymore’.

They repent and Old Samuel begins to pray; he begins to talk to the Lord.

Child of God—don’t you EVER deny the power of prayer.

Don’t ever degrade the efficacy of a talk with a Holy God.
Don’t ever demean the potency of conversation with THE HOLY OTHER.

There’s something that happens when you talk to God.

I don’t know HOW He works it out; but I do know that while you are trying to FIGURE it out, He’s already WORKED it out.

Is there anybody here who can testify that God will go behind the scenes and He’ll shift stuff around and release stuff in the atmosphere—to make sure that it works out for your good.

Anybody in here every tried to power of prayer? And you found out that God does answer you when you call on His name?

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything (that’s the big stuff and the little stuff)
Everything (that’s the hard the stuff and the easy stuff)
Everything (that’s your job and your family)
Everything (that’s your money and your health)
Everything (that’s your man; that’s your woman)
Everything to God in PRAYER!!!

Samuel said, I have to pray.

Listen: Prayer is NOT a quick fix every time. Because the Bible says that WHILE Sam is praying, the enemy’s ATTACK INTENSIFIED.

WHILE he’s praying the Philistines get the word that they are at Mizpah; and they say we’re going to go get them now/we’re going to attack them at Mizpah and take them out.

But what they didn’t understand was—the LAST time they defeated them it was because they didn’t have anybody who was praying. But THIS time—the man of God was up there calling their name in prayer.

And you need to know that it is PRAYER that makes ALL of the difference.

Now my question is: Where did Samuel get this from? Where did Samuel learn about the power of prayer? You have to realize that you ought to trust in the power and potency of prayer—when you realize that the very fact that YOU are even here—is a result of somebody praying for YOU!!!

Well—this is chapter 7, but if you go back to chapter 1 and chapter 2, you’ll find a good sister who knew that she wanted a baby boy; but her WOMB had been shut up; but she knew that she needed to talk to God. Old Samuel’s mamma’s name was Hannah and Hannah learned how to pray for her baby boy.

And the Bible lets us know that because Hannah prayed that the Lord opened up her womb and gave her a baby boy; and called his name Samuel. And she prayed in her prayer, ‘Lord, if you give him to me, I’ll give him back to you all the days of his life’. And that is how Samuel began to understand the power of pray—because the fact that he was even here—was because he had somebody who was praying for him before the Most High God.

I wonder if there is anybody who is here today—that knows that you are not here because you look so good/because you’re so smart/so intelligent/because you made the right connections.

But because somewhere you had some mamma, some saint, some deacon, some pastor—somewhere who was praying for you!!!

The Bible says that after Samuel prayed—the Philistines advanced in their attack toward Mizpah—the Bible says that on THAT day—
- Because somebody believed in the power of prayer
- Because somebody gave heaven earthly license to influence earth
- Because somebody issued forth terrestrial license for celestial intervention
- Because somebody called those things that were not as though they were
- Because somebody cried out to God and believe Him to work and do the impossible

The Bible lets us know that because somebody, somewhere—was in intercession—that ‘The Lord thundered against the enemy’.

That lets us know that we not only have a God who receives us in prayer/relieves us.

III. We have a God who rewards us.

And I wonder is there is anybody here today who has seen the results of answered prayer?

Some of you are living on some blessings right now NOT because YOU prayed but because somebody prayed.

And the Bible lets us know that on that day that the Lord thundered against the Philistines.

The Lord said:
- I’m tired of people acting against my children/of people messing with my babies/messing with my people.

And on THAT day the Lord thundered against the Philistines.

Now this is not the first time that the Philistines had come up against the Israelites. But it was not until THAT day that God said ‘NO MORE’.

And I like the fact, that when I learn how to cry out to God—God knows how to allow what I’ve gotten myself INTO to come to an end.

God knows how to give you a THAT day.

The Bible says that as a result of THAT day that the enemy’s of the Israelites were slaughtered all the way to Beth Car.

Somebody in here needs to do inventory and that God for THAT day.

- It was THAT day that the Lord saved my soul
- It was THAT day that the Lord confounded my enemies
- It was THAT day that the Lord made my enemies my footstool
- It was THAT day that the Lord gave me victory over:

Does anybody remember THAT day? And it is because of THAT day I can thank Him for THIS day.

This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.

That day he brought me deliverance; this day I’m bringing him my devotion
That day he brought me hope; this day I’m bringing him my all
That day he brought me salvation; this day I’m bring him my surrender



My beloved mother asked a question that she posted on my previous blog that I would like to post here - for more visibility. To be honest, I am interested in hearing what others have to say.

Here is the question:

I have a question for each of you preachers. Addressing you via Pastor Kraig's (hopefully with his permission) blog. How do you know weeks, months or even years in advance that God is directing you to do one preaching series after the other, and/or one at all? Just asking. I'm praying for ya'll!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ESV is here!

It has been some time since I have recommended a read; I think I will try to do it each week - since I make it a point to read a book each week, even in the midst of my present schedule. I am excited about the new ESV Study Bible! Of course - please don't consider this a book review or a parcel of what I am reading in completion for the week. It actually consists of 25,000 notes written specifically for ESV; 80,000 cross-references; and over 200 charts. It is very exhaustive; and--as someone who has atleast 60 or so study bibles I've acquired through the years - I would place this in the top 10! I am not a particular fan of the 'Version' itself, though many of my theological comrades and counterparts highly recommend and enjoy the version. But the notes, references, and charts - are well worth its weight!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This past weekend has been quite interesting! I found myself getting some rest in the midst of my strange schedule. My sons attended a birthday celebration on Friday night - giving me an opportunity to finish a research paper, watch a little television, etc.

For some reason, I just couldn't decide which direction to take on Sunday. I had anticipated a preaching series on 'The Family that Preys', but I knew that was not the direction I was being led on Sunday. Then...I thought about preaching a message on Thankful Living, but my thoughts would not come together. Finally, on Saturday evening, I had landed on Jeremiah 18:1-4.

Sunday morning came...attendance was low! Of course, this means nothing to me. However, I noticed that on this particular Sunday that it really didn't mean anything to those who were present. The next thing I knew, we had--what I would surmise--was an experience similar to Lance's experience last week. The Lord showed up and had His way.

I hate to say that I didn't finish the message, because I did. For the most part, I stood for about 20 minutes. For me...that is a miracle, considering my messages are typically 45 minutes plus!!!

I am really struggling which direction to go in my series, considering I will not be preaching the family series this year. I'll keep you posted. I plan to blog much more this week...and catch up on my reading the blogs of my friends!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This previous Sunday was quite busy, hectic and hurried. Sunday morning at 8:15am we had our regularly scheduled worship service at Cornerstone; and the Lord blessed us tremendously! Our service was a little abbreviated in order for some of the members who wanted to travel with me to Bay City, TX. where I stood to share the Word at Mother Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Murray Martin, Sr. Pastor during their 11am service. I was tremendously blessed and uplifted by the Worship experience and fellowship there. Bay City is about an hour and a half from our church, so we were able to make it there a little after 11am. After that service, D'Ani and I had to take our youngest son, Kaden, to a Pass the Torch ceremony being held at a 3:30pm to induct him as a lifetime member into the NAACP organization.

After all of this, I had to go home and study for a mid-term and complete a report. Needless to say - it has been some kind of week.

It is Wednesday evening now and I know I have been away - but please keep me in your prayers. I have 2 papers due, one this Friday and another Monday; not to mention another Mid-Term on Monday. It is amazing to me--I don't think Seminary professors take into account other responsibilities such as pastoring, family time, leisure, etc. But I REFUSE to let this get me down - I WILL graduate in May so that I can finally move on to other things. That is...if we ALL pray!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I can't believe its been an entire week since I've last blogged. Nevertheless, I am always excited to sit at my desk and--not only write--but read the blogs of many of my friends (and family!).

We had an awesome time in worship this past Lord's Day. The Lord shined upon our worship and the message. Strangely, for the 3rd straight week I found myself losing my voice one-thirds a way through the message. I finally figured out the issue and prayerfully this will solve the problem.

Because our service begins at 8:15am, we have our Sunday School classes AFTER our worship service. I found myself counseling a member so I missed Sunday School; but I had a special treat. A few of our ministers took D'Ani and I to Sunday brunch, one of my favorite brunch places at Pappadeaux Seafood. We had good fellowship and I was glad that D'Ani was with me. I say that because it is hard to get away with 2 young boys demanding attention.

I am looking forward to a great week; particularly in lieu of Tuesday being Election Day. Either way the Lord allows this thing to go - it will be historic and speak of the steady progress our nation has taken. Let us ALL pray...and VOTE!