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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 6

Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 6

Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 6
Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 6
TOPICS: End times

When I travel around the country and around the world really, I'm amazed at the number of people who come after a rally and line up for hours, and some of them whom I've never met before, and some probably Muslim I will never see again until heaven. And they make a point of coming to me at the end to say, "God has laid it on my heart to pray for you and your ministry on a daily basis". There is no way I can express my gratitude to God for them and for that person whom God led to pray for this ministry. And you say, "Why"? Because I am absolutely one of those people who is thoroughly and completely and totally convinced that the success of any ministry is in direct proportion to the prayers of the saints for that ministry.

I'm absolutely convinced of that. Could God do all that he is doing or around the world without us? Absolutely, he's a sovereign God. He's God, he can do anything, right? But for some reason, he said that, "I will do things in response to the faithful prayers of my people". I don't understand all about it, I will understand it only in heaven, but I do believe it with all my heart. And so, when I hear the Apostle Paul telling the Thessalonians that he is dependent on their prayers for him and his ministry, I become more convinced that this is thoroughly biblical. First five verses of chapter 3 of 2 Thessalonians, "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread swiftly or rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from the wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence".

Where is that confidence? "We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance". For those of you who followed the series, we saw how the Apostle Paul peers through the lens of faith, how he peers supernaturally into the end times, into the end of history. And as he foresees and foretells how Christ is going to be revealed on that last day when history folds, as he foresees and foretells how the Holy Spirit of God's hand of restraining power begin to withdraw from the world, after telling us all of that, he now goes on to tell us how should we who are living between the two comings of Christ should live.

If you go up one chapter, chapter 2, verses 10, 11, and 12, he says, "One of the things we must always do is hold the truth so tightly, uphold the truth so faithfully. Don't let it drop from your hand. Hold the truth and hold it firmly". I think of how so many are abandoning the truth in favor of popularity, or how so many of them have sold their birthright for a pot of the soup of worldly acceptance. Every time I see how fast they're dropping the truth in favor of sentimentality which they call love. Every time I see how they've ceased to stand firmly for the truth after once they did. Every time I see how they are not immoveable when it comes to the truth, I want to encourage you and encourage me and encourage those who love the Lord Jesus Christ to be immoveable in the love for the truth of Jesus Christ.

We are to pray for that same Word of God that we're holding faithfully to be empowered to spread around the world, to have power in the lives of people around the globe. In fact, if you examine the mission statement of the church of the apostles, you found these two foundational truths are there. We are to equip the saints, that is to encourage them to stand firm, be immoveable, holding the truth of the Word of God. And then to reach the lost, to let the Word of God have its power and its work in the lives of those who don't know Jesus, so they may come and repent of their sins, and believe in him, and surrender to him. Those are the two things that we do as a church. Anyone who claims to be a believer cannot escape these two foundational pillars of the Christian faith.

Every Christian activity must be centered, must be founded upon those two foundational stones, upholding the truth of the Word of God, standing immoveable when it comes to the truth of the Word of God, and praying diligently that that same Word that worked in us, that is working in us, to spread throughout the world. And I was thinking about the great Apostle Paul, who absolutely has no equal when it comes to intellectual brilliance, when it comes to rabbinic education, when it comes to persuasive logic, when it comes to clear thinking, when it comes to spiritual perception, when it comes to being an experienced missionary and church planter. He has no equal. And yet, none of this is a source of his strength. None of this is the foundational truth of his ministry. None of this is important to him.

In fact, excuse me, but I've got to tell you exactly what the Bible said, "He put all his qualification aside and he said, 'I consider that all to be dung.'" So, that's the Word. Listen to what he said to the Colossians. He said, "I labor and I strive according to my intellect"? No, "According to my brilliance, according to my strategy"? No, he said, "I labor and I strive according to his power, which mightily is working within me". In Galatians chapter 2, verse 20, he said, "I place no confidence whatsoever in the flesh". And that is why he repeatedly asked the believers to pray for him and for his ministry. Because he's thoroughly dependent on God's strength.

You see, we pay lip service to it in the evangelical world, but in reality, we really deep down, we rely on our own self-righteousness, we rely on our own clever techniques, we rely on our own marketing strategy, we rely on all sorts of things. And yet, the Bible is so clear this great man of God relied not on the flesh, but on the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the sad part about prayer among Christians these days is that they see it as a means by which to get from God what they want. If you talk to the average Christian, that's how they see prayer. When they have personal needs, they become great prayer warriors. When there's a crisis, whether it's personal, or national or local, or whatever it may be, financially, they pray frantically.

While God is gracious and he responds and he answers our petitions, and don't misunderstand me, I'm not against that at all, but biblical prayer life is far greater than just coming to God with your grocery list. "Give me one of this, two of this, three of the other". Biblical prayer life is far deeper than just, "Give me this and give me that, God". Biblical prayer life is far higher than just asking for what we need. In fact, those who understand and practice biblical prayer life will find that by the time they finish praying, God has already met all of their needs because that's what he promised. I want you to hear me out on this one, this is important. And I pray to God that not a single person here or watching would not have a transformed prayer life by the end of this service.

The reason today's Christianity, these mass movements of so-called church goers, the reason Christianity itself is so weak, is so insipid, it is so anemic is because we do not practice biblical prayer life. What Paul is asking the Thessalonians to do, two things. He said, "First hold fast into the truth of the Word of God". And he said, "Secondly, pray for the power of that Word to spread around the world just like it worked in your life". What Paul is asking the Thessalonians to do is exactly what Jesus said when he said, "When you pray, seek ye first," what? Your needs, your desires, your wish list, your dreams, your plan, your strategy, your goals? No, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things are going to be added to you". God is going to meet all of your needs if you focus on his glory.

Now, beloved, listen, I'm here to testify to you as I mature in my prayer life, I become far more focused on Jesus and his glory, and I find myself not even praying for my needs. Do I have needs? Of course, like everybody else I have needs, but I found again and again and again as I obey these words of Jesus and seek first his kingdom, seek first his righteousness, I find that I won't even have to ask for my needs. You see, prayer is not cajoling God to do what he does not want to do. If you listen carefully to people, that's how they see prayer. They think prayer is overcoming God's reluctance. They think that prayer is just getting on God's good side so that he may give you what you want. That is not biblical prayer life.

In fact, if you take time and you study and you focus on how Jesus communed with his Father, how he spent time with the Father, I am convinced that the disciples find that to be challenging. What does he say all the time? When they're so used to the rote prayer three times a day, you go in the temple, you pray three times, and just were really fascinated. And finally, out of frustration, they must've said to him, "Teach us how to pray. Tell us how you do this". And if you see what the Lord Jesus Christ's prayer life walk with his Father, you're going to find that the Father's glory was the most important thing to him, far more important than anything else. Communing with the Father like the air you breathe, it's like the food you eat.

And I've not met too many people who says, "Well, I breathed yesterday, I'm not going to breathe today. I breathed last week, so I'm not going to breathe today". Or, "I ate last week, so I'm not going to eat today". You see, that is how the Lord Jesus Christ saw his intimacy in prayer with the Father. In fact, in John chapter 4, verse 34, he said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me. His glory is my primary concern in life". Until our communing with God, beloved, listen to me, until the glory of Jesus becomes like the air we breathe and the food we eat, we will not experience power with God in prayer. I don't want you to miss this. Satan understands the power of a believer's biblical prayer life, he really does. He understands it far more than the vast majority of Christians do.

That is why he works overtime on it, to divert our attention from it, to get us off track, to distract us, to keep us from understanding what that means. He does not want us to have power with God. He does not want us to be in such intimacy with the Father and seeking his glory with all of our might. He does not want us to live a life of total obedience to the Word of God, so he will do everything possible to stop us from praying for God's glory. One of the challenging passages in the Bible is Matthew 13:58, and the Bible said, "Jesus did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief". Some of your translations said, "Could not do". Either way, not because he was incapable of doing it or unable to do it, but he could not do it. Why? Because Jesus' mighty works were not in a form of a showmanship. "Let me show you boys what I can do".

Jesus' mighty work was not so that he may be accepted and people clap. No, it was for the glory of the Father. Everything was about the glory of the Father for him. And when our prayer is so self-centered and not for the Father's glory, our faith is so convoluted and it's hesitant and halting. Our faith is half-hearted and it's full of doubt. In fact, most of our faith is focused in what we want or what we need. And the reason Paul was so confident that the prayers of the Thessalonians for the power of the gospel would be answered is because it is consistent with the will of God, because it's consistent with the life of Christ. Because it was focusing on seeking first the glory of God, it was focusing on God's reputation, not ours. And so, the first answer to the question, "What do you pray for"? Verse 1, "Pray for the power of the Word of God". The Word of God is powerful, but pray for its power to be unleashed in the lives of many people.

Secondly, verse 2, he said, "Pray for the faithful preaching, teaching, witnessing. Pray for the work of God, not just what was done here in these pulpits, but in your life as you witness your neighbors, as you witness to other people, pray for the power of the Word of God to be working in you". I am amazed. I'm not surprised, but I'm amazed at the venom and the hatred and the way they express their evil, malignant, and deceptive wickedness, is they accuse those who are faithful to the Word of God, who upholding the truth of the Word of God, they accused them of being haters. Why? Because anyone who believes and obeys the Word of God, anyone who refuse to accept or acquiesce to their immoral lifestyle, they call them unloving. They see them as they've been rejecting them, and they'll say, "I and my lifestyle are one and the same. You reject my lifestyle, you reject me".

See, they twist the truth. Our whole society is twisting the truth. Our whole culture is falling in this twisting of the truth. They turn the table around and call the only ones who truly love them and love them enough to tell the truth, they call them haters. Paul said, "They do not believe the truth of the gospel. They are hostile to it. They are hostile toward those who are faithfully proclaiming it". They will hound them, they will intimidate them until these preachers fall in line with them. And my goodness are we seeing it now coast to coast. So many of those who are faithfully standing for the truth, they're surrendering one after another, one after another, one after another. And under the guise of love, which is really sentimentality, not biblical love, not agape love, they accommodate to those who hate biblical truth.

Pray for the power of the Word of God to move quickly. Secondly, pray for the faithful preaching, teaching, witnessing to the Word of God. And thirdly, he says, "Pray in confidence, in confidence in God's power and faithfulness". Verse 3, "The Lord will be faithful. God is faithful," and he may strengthen you, will possibly strengthen you? "He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one". God is faithful to let his Word come back with the results that he sent it to bring back. God is faithful to keep Satan from tormenting the faithful believers. God is faithful, and he's going to shield us from that spirit of lawlessness that seems to be unleashed upon the world. God is faithful to protect us from the assault of the antichrist when he's revealed. God is faithful to keep us from stumbling. God is faithful to keep us blameless and with great joy. Amen, amen.

Verse 4, "We have confidence". Where does that confidence, where is it placed? In his brilliant strategy? In his marketing technique? In his shrewd planning and thinking? In his reputation and fame? Again, nothing against these things, but no, "It's in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command you". You see, the onus is on the faithfulness of the Lord. He's going to keep you. He's going to protect you. He's going to watch over you. Finally in verse 5, Paul anticipates the best for the Thessalonians.

You say, "Wait a minute, is that a presumption on Paul's part? How can he anticipate the best for them? How can you anticipate the best for anybody"? Well, if you look at the formula, you can confidently actually anticipate the best for anybody that you're talking to. What is this formula? Here it is, the faithfulness of God and the obedience of the child of God. You put those together, one plus one equal blessing. You can confidently pronounce blessing. Sooner or later, even if it delays, God is going to send it because God is faithful, and the faithfulness of the believers in obedience to God, you put those together, you get blessing. That's what he said here. Two things always will bring the blessing of God and the power of God.

Beloved, God is faithful. The question is, are we? God will honor those who place his glory above their own, for those who seek his work and his kingdoms and the majesty of Jesus above their own businesses. The question is, do you have a biblical prayer life? But then there may be a person here today who has never really made the first step, have never really committed their life to Christ, never received him as their Savior, never accepted his forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. But that's where you'll begin before you begin to develop a biblical prayer life. So, wherever you are, we're going to pray. And you know where you are, God knows where you are. And so, I'm going to take a moment or two in silent prayer. Do business with God before I lead in prayer. Let's do that.
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