Preaching:  Becky Mueller

Date Presented:  Sunday, August 15, 2016

Scripture Reference: Genesis 18:23-33, Revelation 20:11-15

Sermon: Prayer Advocates

 

If only we were like Abraham – having such a relationship with God that we can literally walk and talk with him.  We would see him in the distance and recognize his step. We would be able to sit down and have a picnic and just relax in God’s company.  Anything we ask would be granted since we would know his will for our lives.   Our influence would be far reaching and effective with the Creator of the Universe sitting next to us.  Oh to be like Abraham and be called a ‘friend of God’.

 

Unfortunately, I am more like Abraham’s nephew Lot in this story.  I raise my eyes and see green pastures and smooth wide paths and long to live there away from the straight and narrow and the rocky road that following God can lead me along sometimes.  I often look for my status and position by worldly standards instead of God’s.  I am attracted by the easy way and yearn for friends, status, and wealth that others would notice.  I am drawn to the crowd and desire to belong and then make rationalizations for my choices to be one of them.  I don’t want to stand out and be considered a fanatic.  I’m not sure if I would recognize God’s angels if they came knocking at my door – Sorry, that is another part of the story.

 

Back to Abraham – I am so thankful for the Abrahams in my life.  People who prayed for me when I wasn’t able to or even willing to pray.  People who petitioned God on my behalf. People who begged and pleaded with God to intervene in my wrong choices and make everything right in my life again.  People who literally saved me from myself and gave me a new chance at life.

 

In his mind, Abraham was an ordinary man who believed in an extraordinary God. A man who had been overwhelmingly blessed by God.  He had everything he could desire except a son and that had been promised by God. And Abraham believed God instead of his circumstances and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

As our story opens God and some angels were having lunch with Abraham.  Imagine the scene – spread out under the trees just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  God decided to share his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah with Abraham.  God had promised to never destroy the whole world again – the rainbow is his sign that he keeps his word.  However, Sodom and Gomorrah had pushed the limit of what God could endure.  God cannot look upon wickedness and evil.  What Sodom and Gomorrah were doing was out of control and had to be stopped.  God‘s judgment had been declared.  Abraham and God had such a relationship that God shared his plans.

 

Immediately Abraham sprang into prayer and petition.  His nephew Lot lived in Sodom.  Abraham loved Lot like a son.  He had to save him from himself and his bad choices.  He knew Lot was respected by the Sodom community.  Lot was an important member of Sodom society.  Even though this was against God’s will and plan for Lot – God loved Lot as part of Abraham’s family. So God listened to Abraham on behalf of Lot.  Lot probably didn’t even know that Abraham was intervening for him, his family and the entire community. Lot probably wasn’t aware of the impending judgment that was coming.

 

Abraham approached God on his knees.  He acknowledged God supreme position.  In the tradition of the Middle Eastern tradition he started the barter high.  I think he felt that Lot would have influenced some of his neighbors with his belief in God.  Surely, Lot remembered his choice to leave with Abraham when God called.  Surely, he remembered all the blessing that had been bestowed on Abraham and him by God.  Surely, he realized his own position and status in Sodom were in part a response to the blessings of God – at the least the wealth of Abraham and his flocks and crops were from God.

 

I think Abraham felt sure that Lot had shared his faith journey with others.  But maybe not with 50 people –

maybe only 40;

or 30,

or 20;

well he must have shared it with his immediate family and that numbered more than 10 with wife, daughters, Sons, Daughters-in-law, and Sons-in-law.  That would be enough to save both cities.  At that point Abraham stopped his prayer and God answered by agreeing that if there were 10 righteous people in Sodom he would not destroy either city.  God sent his angels to look for them and count the righteous. Unfortunately, we know the rest of the story.

 

BUT Abraham had saved Lot and two of his daughters from immediate destruction.

 

Who is your Abraham?  Who prays for you, earnestly begging God to save you and transform your life? Who calls upon God to use your bad choices and decisions for good? Who reminds God that you are part of the reason his Son died on the cross to save all of our souls? Who is your champion prayer warrior?

 

And just as important who’s Abraham are you?  Who are you pleading with God for their very lives?  Who are you petitioning God each day for their salvation and turning back to a righteous way of life?  Who is the focus of your most fervent prayer?  Are you a prayer advocate?

 

Just  a thought  – Are you one of the ten righteous people saving your community from destruction from the wickedness rampant in our world?

 

JOB 1:5 says “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.”

 

Job was an intercessor for his whole family. He didn’t know what they may have done, or even cared.  He wanted to make sure they were covered by the blood of his burnt offering.   It was more important to him that they were sanctified and made right with God more than he was.  By remaining in prayer and worship he reaped blessings upon himself and his family.

 

I know – then the devil showed up and took everything but Job’s very life and his wife.  I think that Job knew his children were safe in the hands of God even though their earthly life was snatched from them by the devil.  All of his prayers and sacrifices for his children had not been in vain.

 

After much soul searching by Job and accusations by his counselors who believed that Job had done something wrong or he would not be punished by God –  they were questioned by God and had to answer to him

 

Listen to Job’s answer in Job chapter 42 “I know you can do anything; no plan of yours can be opposed successfully You said, “Who is this darkening counsel without knowledge?” I have indeed spoken about things I didn’t understand, wonders beyond my comprehension. You said, “Listen and I will speak; I will question you and you will inform me.” My ears have heard about you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I relent and find comfort on dust and ashes.”

 

Job repented of his words and accusations based on the false belief that God always rewards the righteous in this life. Instead of accusing god of injustice, Job submits to the will of the sovereign Lord of the universe.   Unfortunately his friends did not understand this.     All four of these men questioned the circumstances Job found himself in.  All four of them questioned God and his sovereignty.  All four of them saw and heard God reveal himself to them.  Only Job repented of his mistaken beliefs and prayed for forgiveness. – which God freely granted.

 

God commanded the other three to offer a sacrifice and to have Job pray for them since Job was accepted by God and only Job could intervene for them to prevent God’s judgment for their false beliefs.

 

The end of story is even more blessings than what Job had at the beginning.

 

Who is your Job that intervenes for you with God?  Who prays for your very soul when you have wandered away from God?  Who seeks forgiveness from God on your behalf?  Who is so in God’s will that this world’s circumstances never rock their beliefs?  Who is your rock in this world when things go south for you?  Who leads your way back to God?

 

Who’s Job are you?  Who do you intervene with God for?  Who do you seek forgiveness for from God?  Who do you stand firm in your beliefs for?  Are you accepted by God to speak on others behalf?  Are you a prayer advocate?

 

The Prophets were always praying and advocating for the whole nation of Israel with sometimes amazing results.  They pleaded both with the people and with God to remember the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Years later in the tiny town of Bethlehem we had a greater advocate born than all of the Patriarchs and Prophets together.

 

Throughout the four gospels we witness Jesus praying before, during and after meals, in the morning, during the day, evenings and deep into the night, he prays with thanksgiving and deep distress, he prays for others and with others, for himself and by himself.  Jesus prays and we are admonished to do the same – I Thessalonians 5:17-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”

 

Over and over again we hear Jesus praying to God to save his people from their sins. When he was hanging on the cross loaded down with the awful burden of all of our sins Jesus still pleaded with his Father – “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”  And God was faithful and did as his only, begotten Son asked.

 

Now when it is our turn to come before the Judgment Seat with God on the Throne we have an advocate to stand and speak for us.  Can you imagine the scene?   The Great White Throne of Judgment and you and I are called to stand before God and account for our words, actions, and deeds while on this earth.  But as our name is called – Jesus steps in and says I will go in your place – let me speak for you – I have already forgiven you and taken the punishment for your sins.

 

So Jesus enters the courtroom and approaches the bench –  His speech is prepared “My Lord and Judge, I come before you in the place of (insert your name) and declare him forgiven. I know you can’t look upon sin and evil, but I have, and I have conquered them.  Father, remember, you gave all of them to me and I have declared in John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.” You have given to me this one and I have given him forgiveness and eternal life.  He has claimed your promise “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world though Him might be saved.”  I know this one believes in me and loves me.  I have declared him one of mine.  I have a mansion prepared for him   I am asking that you forgive him all of his sins and shortcomings and welcome him to our family in Heaven.

 

Who can ask for a greater advocate?  For someone to stand beside us and comfort us, guide us, and love us in all circumstances? Someone we can access anytime of the day or night, regardless of where we are physically or spiritually?

 

All we have to do is Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  The third day he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

 

Are you willing to ask Jesus into your heart and life? It is our choice – we can choose life eternal with Jesus or face the Judgment and wrath of God on our own.   I choose Jesus.

 

Amen