Sermon delivered June 10, 2000 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

The World's Worst Sin

John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

How do we get eternal life? By knowing God. By knowing Jesus Christ. Sounds simple enough doesn't it? The real question is this: Just how do we come to really know Jesus? And question number two: Is it even possible for a mere mortal man to fully "know" an omniscient God? Isaiah 55:9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In fact can we really know anybody? Do you fully know your spouse or your children? Do you know yourself?

Yet the Bible says that we can know Jesus! We can know Him at least well enough to be effective. Paul placed this first in his priorities. Philippians 3:8 I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...

Christ did not say that eternal life is to know about God. The knowledge of which Christ speaks is not just intellectual, or theoretical knowledge but an experiential acquaintance with the only true God. Eternal life is to know God, personally through Jesus Christ.

Knowing God is the most excellent knowledge there is, because it is a saving knowledge that imparts eternal life. The opposite is Ignorance of God which is eternal death to the soul.

Spurgeon said "The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father."

Question: How do you get to know God? It is only through Christ that we can be brought to saving knowledge of God. In John 14:6 Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." To know God you must know Jesus.

Therefore our daily goal is to seek a deeper and more intimate knowledge of Jesus and relationship with Jesus.

How do you do that? There are two ways to know Jesus. Prayer and Bible study. Psalm 119:50 says: Your word has given me life - How? By acquainting the reader with Jesus!

What is the worst sin in the world? Lying? Overeating? Killing? Cheating in school? What is it? The world's worst sin is not to pray. To avoid talking to Jesus. To cut off communication with Jesus. Today we want to focus on Prayer.

Prayer is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the very presence of God and there in the stillness, listen to his voice, and perhaps petition or just admire. Just to silently be there in his presence is prayer. The world is vanquished when you zoom in and concentrate your heart on Jesus.

Some pray about great problems. Some people pray over lottery tickets. I suppose some only pray at night because they feel the rates are cheaper. Some pray and then worry. Why do you pray? We should pray to get to know Jesus more fully.

MATTHEW 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Prayer is powerful. Let's examine the three parts of Matthew 7:7,8.

1)--ASK--- THE SIMPLICITY OF PRAYER

Prayer is pulling the switch that operates the powerhouse of heaven and having all that energy come on line for our disposal. The only way it works is if we believe in it and take advantage of it.

The story is told of a small town in which there were no liquor stores. Eventually, tho, a night club was built right on Main Street. Members of one of the churches in the area were so disturbed that they conducted several all night prayer meetings, and asked the Lord to burn down that den of iniquity.

Lightening struck the tavern a short time later and it was completely destroyed by fire. The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed, SUED them for the damages. He attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss.

The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges. After much deliberation the judge declared, "It is the opinion of the court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!" We smile at this story, but it suggests how faithless we sometimes are in our prayers. Don't dare pray unless you believe God will answer. If you really know Jesus, you can't help but believe in prayer.

Ask Him! Ask God to help you and be sure to ask Him to help someone else. Medical Ministry p. 195 - (EG WHITE) "When you neglect to pray for the sick (anyone who is in need) you deprive them of great blessings, for angels of God are waiting to minister to these souls in response to your petitions."

If you ASK you will receive. Ps 34:5. They looked unto Him, and were lightened.

Christ our Savior spent many hours in prayer, sometimes all night. Do you know why Jesus was the most powerful Christian that ever lived? Because He prayed the most.

Examine the prayers of Jesus and you will see that rarely did He pray for Himself. His prayers were unselfish. The Lord's prayer: "Our (not my) Father... give us (not me) our (not my) daily bread, forgive us... This prayer is not self centered. Now of course it is just fine to pray for your needs but let's not run this into the ground.

Time spent in prayer is an investment. Some years ago a young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. "That depends" said the foreman. "Let's see you fell this tree." The strong young man stepped forward and skillfully felled the great tree. "You're Hired!"

Monday, Tue, Wed., Thurs, rolled by and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the man and said, "You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today. You have fallen far behind the others. You have dropped from first place to last." "But I'm a hard worker, I arrive first and leave last." The foreman believed the youth and pondered for a time. "Let me ask, 'Have you been sharpening your ax?" "No, I've been too busy working to do that."

Maybe our spiritual lives are dull because we seldom take time to sharpen them on the whetstone of prayer. Our Savior kept the axe of prayer sharp. Every day, every moment He was in prayer. Jesus simply asked, and His dear heavenly Father answered. Our problem is that we do not ask.

Prayer really works. I was flabbergasted when someone gave me a copy of the Journal of the American Medical Association and I read the results of a study they did in l988. During ten months three hundred ninety three patients were admitted to the Coronary Care Unit of a hospital. They decided that a group of people would pray for half of the patients and the other half would not be prayed for. A prospective, randomized, double blind protocol was followed.

The half that were prayed for had a significantly lower severity score. The control group required more frequent ventilation, and antibiotics, and diuretics. The study concluded that prayer provides a beneficial therapeutic effect. JAMA l-20-89, Vol 26l #3 Page 372.

Prayer only acquaints you with Jesus if you use it.

2)--THE INTENSITY OF PRAYER. MATTHEW 7:7B "...SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND!

It's not the length of your prayers--how long they are; It's not the mathematics of your prayers--how many there are; It's not the poetry of your prayers--how beautiful they are; Nor the volume of your prayers--how loud they are. It's the sincerity and faith and the intensity of your prayer that really matters. Did you ever notice that Jesus preceded all His miracles with sincere, intense prayer.

Remember the last partial eclipse of the Sun? Folks were told there would not be another one for about twenty five years. So crowds flocked out to stare at the sun. I was dumbfounded at the risk people took just to see the sun. Thousands injured their eyes to see the eclipse. How heaven must wish that as many would have the same intense desire to commune with the Son of God in prayer.

Perhaps the reason we see little results from prayer is that we don't go at it with very much diligence. George Whitefield, the famous preacher and evangelist said, "Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer!"

JEREMIAH 29:13. And you will seek Me and find Me...WHEN you search for Me with ALL your heart! Here in our beloved homeland, we were once known as a people of prayer. We were a Christian Nation. In every school in this land prayer was heard. Now we have removed the privilege of prayer from our public schools. And we are reaping a bad harvest.

Now it is legal in our modern tradition to pass out condoms and bleach for sterilizing needles, right in our high schools---but reading the Bible and praying have been outlawed. No wonder that character and integrity are rare.

By getting away from Prayer and thus from God we have raised up a whole generation of youth who are being confused about right and wrong. For example the public schools in Catoosa County now have in their dress code the following rules:

No Nose rings.

No cult-promoting patches or symbols.

No see-through clothes.

No earrings on boys that hang below their ear lobe.

Where is all this coming from? Are we reaping what we have sown in banning prayer from our young folks? Chattanooga Free Press, 5-25-91.

If they are not exposed to prayer at school then it is vitally important that you involve them in meaningful prayer at home. How critical it is that you pray intensely for our youth. No wonder more and more parents are home schooling or sending their children to our Christian Schools where they can learn at the feet of a Teacher who prays with them.

3)--THE PERSISTENCY OF PRAYER. Matthew 7:7C KNOCK AND IT SHALL BE OPENED....

Knock and Keep Knocking. Don't give up knocking.

A woman phoned the manager of a large opera house and told him she had lost a very expensive diamond pin the night before at the concert. He said: Hold the line and I'll go and look around where you sat. The search was made and the priceless diamond studded pen was found, but when he got back to the phone, the woman had hung up. He waited for her to call again, and even put a notice in the paper, but he heard nothing further. What a strange and foolish person we might say!

But that is exactly how too many of us pray! We tell the Lord all about our needs, but then fail to "Hold the line". We thus miss the joy of answered prayer and the thrill and reward of persistent faith in prayer.

Don't hang up on God. Have you ever thought that God would like to talk to you as much as you desire to talk to Him? We get off our knees too quick. We hang up the phone while He is in the process of providing the power that we asked for. I Thessalonians 5:17 says, Pray continually. Don't hang up on God but stay put and pray.

Janice and Ed were up in a small plane on their way to "Statesboro, GA from NC. Ed had a heart attack and died and Janice did not know how to fly. She did manage to keep it up in the air until it ran out of fuel. During that 2 hours she sang hymns and prayed. She got on the radio and called Help, Help, won't somebody help me. Authorities did pick up her distress call but were not able to reach her by radio because she kept changing the channels. She would call and about the time they located her voice she would again change channels. Her safety was jeopardized by her lack of patience in listening. She finally made a rough landing in a farmers field and painfully crawled for forty five minutes to a farm house for help.

How often as Christians we pray to God for help and then say amen and get up from our knees and face our desperate problem alone wondering why God is silent? When you cry out to the Lord in prayer, don't switch the channels on Him! Persist in your prayers. Knock and keep knocking, and listen for the sound of the approach of the Master.

Psalm 62:5 (NKJV) says, My soul, wait silently for God alone....

You pray, finally your prayer is over. Don't say amen and walk off. Wait for Him. In silence. Alone. Don't be in a rush when you are in His presence. Persist and you will find. Doors will be opened. Answers will come.

We have enhanced 911. Where this system is in operation, a person dials 911 and immediately the operator knows his location. His name, address and phone number appear right on the screen. A six yr old boy called 911 to report that his house was on fire. Even while the operator was telling the boy what to do the trucks were on the way. A terrified girl whispered to the 911 operator that a strange man was trying to hurt her mother, and then hung up. Police arrived in time to capture a rapist. Reader's Digest

God hears the cries of His people. Whenever we call, in whatever situation, He is listening and wants to answer. He knows our location and our needs and is instantly there.

MATTHEW 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." God is such a magnanimous Being, He is kind, and full to overflowing of goodness and strength and joy and love. Our God ever lives to impart rich measures of His kindness and power to those of His saints who will approach Him in prayer with faith and intensity and persistence. According to His best will they will be granted an answer in His way and His timing.

Powerful Prayers Make Powerful Saints. How? The nearer you get to the kind heart of God, the stronger you will become.

Hymn of Praise: #73, Holy, Holy, Holy
Scripture: Matthew 7:7,8
Hymn of Praise: #495, Near to the Heart of God

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