consecration (2)

UNITY IN THE FAMILY

Last Sunday our pastor preached on Psalm 133. And God spoke to me as he preached. I am reminded of something I once heard from a spellbinding preacher. He said God gave him his best sermons as He spoke to him when he was listening to other preachers preach. Well, in fact, although my preaching is now done with my pen, God still seems to be giving me sermons. And I would like to share this one with you. And my sharing will be most blessed, if at some point in reading this God gives you a sermon to preach to His people.

UNITY AMONG BROTHERS

I once heard a denominational leader say he could tell the spiritual temperature of a church by simply walking into a worship center as people were gathering for the service on a Sunday morning. I think he was absolutely right. You can sense excitement in the people or the lack of it. And most of all you can feel the love and unity binding the church together. Jesus said all men would know we are his disciples by the way we love one another.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 133. The first verse of Psalm 133 calls us to see the goodness of unity in the family of God.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is
   when brothers dwell in unity!”

The wording of this reminds me of the creation account in Genesis 1. There the Hebrew word tov, which translates to our English word “good” is first used in the Bible. Again and again as God creates, the scripture says “God saw that it was good.” But after He created man, we have His greater exclamation in verse 31 which begins with the word, “Behold.”

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

With this call for us to sit up and pay attention, Psalm 133 is calling us to see that in the unity of the family of God, He is restoring the goodness of His creation.

And he says it is good and pleasant. There is a sweetness that is not only enjoyed by our Heavenly Father, but that He shares with us in the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.

  • CONSECRATION

Verse 2 of Psalm 133 paints a vivid picture for us.

“It is like the precious oil on the head,
   running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
   running down on the collar of his robes!”

The Holy Spirit is comparing unity in the family of God with the consecration of the priesthood. What this must have brought to the minds of the Children of Israel is something very similar to some things God did in my early life.

I grew up in Oklahoma going to Falls Creek Baptist Assembly. You do not have to be from Oklahoma to have herd of the largest Youth Camp in the world. But I remember going as a young person with thousands of other young people and listening to the word of God preached. At the end of each evening service hundreds of young people would go forward in the altarcall to commit their lives to Christ. When they would finally bring that invitation to a close they would lead those young people to the chapel where where there was counseling space. And as they marched away we would all sing, I have decided to follow Jesus. I seldom sing that hymn without chills rising up on my neck and the the backs of my arms as I remember seeing those crowds of young people, and myself being one of those committing our lives to Christ.

The psalmist here is saying our unity is a God thing. He brings it about. And it is an expression of consecration to him.

But I said this reminds me of two things in my early life. The other is when I first sensed God calling me to preach. I struggled with His calling for an entire semester in college. And when I became convinced that God was indeed calling me, that became the driving force of my life. It is that to this day. You may not be called to preach. But as you sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ you have been given a calling by God. And like Aaron and all the priest who followed him you have a special anointing, a purpose that is to be the driving force of your life. This picture says the unity of the church is an expression of our

  1.   PURPOSE AND THE GOSPEL.

The next picture given in verse 3 is very different but quite as vivid.

“It is like the dew of Hermon,
   which falls on the

   mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
   life forevermore.”

This is a picture of rich blessing from God.

III.   BLESSING

Mount Hermon is a snow capped-mountain, part of a snow-capped range just north of Israel. We lived for 30 years in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by glorious snowy mountains. And the rain fall was a continual mist of blessing. We had a 90 foot Douglas Fir in our backyard. There was a hundred fifty foot tree in the park two blocks from our house. And our library had in a glass case a cutting of the largest Douglas Fir ever removed from the forest. The base of that tree was over 12 feet in diameter. In this picture God is saying unity the church grows from his continual blessing upon us. And it ends by saying this blessing is itself eternal life.

  1.   ETERNAL LIFE

When we see and enjoy unity in the family of God we ought to immediately think of John 3:16. Let's say that verse together in the version we have projected.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Do you have a longing in your heart to be part of the unity of God's family?

The sermon that God gave me is different from the sermon our pastor preached. And I suspect if God speaks to you through this brief, the sermon you preach to your people will be much different than mine. However, I suspect any sermon preached on Psalm 133 would depend upon similar fundamentals. In the days when I was preaching week by week I always began with the basics listed below. With these basics in my mind I would usually take a walk. As I walked my sermon I would preach everything that came into my mind on these basic points. And so I actually composed my sermons out loud.

THE CENTRAL IDEA OF THE TEXT : The psalmist exclaims over the God given goodness of unity among brothers.

PEOPLE : believers who make up this church

  Felt/Need : unity in the church

PURPOSE : Doctrinal; I want my hearers to know unity in the church is a work of God.

THRUST : Unity in the church is a God thing.

PICTURE : The Dew from Mt. Hermon

STORY : Oil on, Aaron's beard

POINTS :

Introduction :

Good and Pleasant

  • Consecration
  • Purpose, Gospel
  • Blessing
  • Eternal life

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8 Actions of Preparation to Pray with Power

Over the past two decades, God has been working in many different groups to call for more prayer. We’ve had concerts of prayer, solemn assemblies, prayer and fasting gatherings, days of prayer for various purposes or praying for people groups, prayer teams to pray for specific leaders, prayer ministries, prayer chains, and prayer conferences. Books on prayer fill bookstore shelves. We’ve prayed for revival and spiritual awakening. Perhaps never in history has more prayer been offered to God for a transformation in our churches, society, our nation, and the world. Why then do we find ourselves in a time when our nation seems to be growing farther and farther from God? What we need is not more prayer alone; we need more power when we pray. We need a people who are right with God when we pray so that God will answer the prayers of His people. God’s Word is true:


“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV)


Do you want to be a person who has power with God in prayer? Do you want your prayer group and church to have power to work with God in prayer to transform a life, a family, a community, or a nation? Then ask God to guide you to come clean before Him so you can pray with power. Here are 8 ways you can come clean before God so you can pray with power.1


1. Examine yourself. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Joining a church or claiming the name “Christian” doesn’t make you one. A saving relationship with Jesus Christ does. Does His Spirit live in you in such a way that your life is a new creation that looks and acts like Jesus? That’s the starting point for being a powerful prayer relationship.


2. Judge yourself. “If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). Do you know of any sin or impurity in your life that is unlike Christ? Those need to go.


3. Remove idols of the heart. An idol of the heart is anything that captures my love in such a way that I’m distracted from my first love for God. Things, money, pleasures, hobbies, sports, careers, positions of power, or other people can all become idols. If you are loving anything too much, put it away and return to your first love.


4. Consecrate yourself and your home. Have you allowed anything into your life or your home that is impure, unholy, ungodly, or unbecoming of a Christ follower? Get rid of it. Whether others know or not, keep your life and your home pure and clean before God.


5. Reconcile broken relationships. Have you offended anyone and not gone to ask forgiveness or make restitution if needed? Get things right with him, her, or them. Has anyone offended you and you are holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness? Forgive. Let no broken relationships remain outstanding.


6. Humble yourself. Do arrogance and pride show up in the way you relate to others? Are you bearing the fruit of pride through such things as a judgmental spirit, critical attitude, prejudice, controlling behavior, condescending attitude, and so forth? “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).


7. Love God and one another. Return to your first love for God and allow His love to flow through you to others in tangible ways. Demonstrate your love by meeting needs.


8. Watch and pray. Draw near to God in prayer and receive His power to resist the temptations that are sure to come your way.


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1. For more on prayer and revival see my video blog at www.lifeway.com/growingdisciples.


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