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Rise Up and Pray

Affirmation: Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”              -Luke 24:46-47

Well here we are, the Sunday before the election of 2020. A record number of us have already voted; Many more will vote this coming Tuesday. It has been a contentious election season, and much is at stake…

When you vote for the House, you are voting for 1/500th of the House; when you vote for Senate, you are voting for 1/100th of the Senate; When you vote for President, you are voting for over 1/3rd of the entire federal government…

We all have ways we rank the most important issues; I use the Declaration of I independence to create 3 tiers – life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.

We have heard a lot about character – To me whether or not a candidate has a consistent pro-life voting record is among the most important character issues. I don’t want to hear how nice somebody is if they believe killing babies is okay.

My open letter to the Democratic party after election of 2000; In the following decade several pro-life democrats were elected; In the decade after that most were ridden out of that party. What a shame.

Here in Virginia this past year we have seen what happens when the left gets hold of the entire government in a state – In a matter of weeks we became as extreme on late-term abortion as New York, North Korea, and China – I hope that doesn’t happen at the Federal level

Three things to remember this election day:

All mature Christians know that God is in control regardless of what the result of the election is

All mature Christians know they will one day give an account of how they have voted to the Lord

All mature Christians know that no election is more important than loving people in Jesus’ name!

Something happened to me in the election of 1992 that I have never forgotten.

I was excited to vote, and animated about the potential disaster if who I was voting for didn’t win.

The Seminary I was at was also a polling place. So I went across the campus to where the voting was and I voted, and got the sticker that said as much.

But as I was going out I came across a man coming in who was barely able to walk. He was a man no older than 40, and looked like he didn’t have much life left on this planet.

I asked him if he would like assistance, and he said yes. I helped him to the front of the line, and they let me help him into the voting booth.

The man didn’t even have the strength to push the buttons. I asked if he would like me to push his choices for him. He said yes.

And every button I pushed was the opposite of the ones I had pushed just moments earlier.

I helped the man to his ride waiting outside, doing my best to share Jesus with him, and we went our separate ways.

I went back to my apartment and prayed about the entire experience.

What was impressed on me was that…

It is an awesome thing in America to get to help decide your temporal leaders through the democratic process. But nothing is more eternally important than showing God’s love to this world in word and deed.

Today we are going to look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It happened just as He was facing the most formidable thing he would face in His earthly life – death on the cross for our sins.

Read Luke 22:39-47a        Rise Up and Pray!               Let’s Pray!

The call to pray amidst serious situations                                                     V. 39-40

Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed. And His disciples followed Him.

Matthew and Mark let us know this was the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus had often gone there to pray – it was His refuge for prayer, about to be shattered by the mob coming with Judas.

When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Matthew and Mark let us know that He brought Peter, James and John even further into the Garden with Him.

The word translated temptation in verse 40 can be translated either temptation or trials. God doesn’t want us to give into sinful temptations or give up when faced with difficult trials. 

We could here stop and say how prayer helps with temptation, but what Jesus does next actually shows how prayer helps deal with the trials and temptations.

What we learn about prayer from Jesus’ prayer in the garden              V. 41-44

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying…

“Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”

The mystery of this moment – In His humanness Jesus is asking the unthinkable – to not go to the cross and die for our sins.

That’s what the cup represents – the cup of wrath due sinners.

Yet Jesus had been saying for months that they were going to Jerusalem for the very purpose of His dying for the sins of the world. Look what He said in John 12 –

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. -Jn. 12:27-28

Have you ever known what you were supposed to do, but in your human weakness struggled as the time came to do it?

The One you pray to can relate – despite being eternal God Jesus in His full human experience was struggling – and so He went to His Father in prayer.

We read in verse 43 that an angel strengthened Jesus, and He prayed even more earnestly, despite being in agony, with great drops of sweat falling like drops of blood to the ground.

Verse 44 tells us that Jesus was in Agony as he prayed.

Matthew’s gospel uses the words grieved and distressed. Mark’s gospel says deeply distressed and troubled.

The word for distressed carries the idea of having a heavy heart, weighed down with care and anxiety.

Can anyone here relate to having a heavy heart, with being weighed down with care and anxiety over something – I sure can, all the time!

Matthew lets us know that Jesus said, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death – remain here and keep watch with Me.”

Jesus experiencing real human emotions just as we do. 

About a stone’s throw from Peter, James, and John, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Abba, His Daddy, His Father.

According to Matthew and Mark’s gospel, He prayed for a little bit, went to the disciples and found them sleeping, asking Peter, “Can’t you even pray for an hour, Peter- your spirit is willing, even when your flesh is weak.”

And Jesus prayed a total of three times, each time praying, “My Father, if this cup  cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.” 

Something very important was happening.

With full human emotion Jesus was struggling to go ahead and do what He knew God wanted Him to do.

Do you see what Jesus was doing?

Jesus was casting His cares on His Father, just as He would later urge us to cast our cares upon Him! 

Prayer changes things.

It sometimes changes the actual circumstances we are facing when God says Yes.

It always changes the person praying, even when God says No or Not Yet!

Prayers primary purpose is to align our minds, hearts, and next actions with God’s eternal plan. For that to happen, we must willingly embrace the concept that when God says ‘No’ it is for His greater ‘Yes.’

This is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name…           EXPLAIN

Thank God for the times He has answered ‘No’ in our lives.

Sometimes we can look back and see how it was better to be told ‘No.’

Other times we cannot, and may not understand until we are in Heaven.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.      -Deuteronomy 29:29

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.  -Proverbs 3:5-6

But even when we don’t understand we can trust.

Even when its hard to obey God will be with us!    

This prayer aligned Jesus with God’s eternal plan to go to the cross as a substitute for our sins! He rose up from prayer ready to perform the hardest act of obedience in the history of the world. What a model for us!

Jesus rose up ready to be arrested, tried, and go to the cross on our behalf.

But he had one more word for Peter, John, and James.

How prayer helps us deal with stress and fight temptation                    V. 45-47a          

When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.

Only Dr. Luke gives this diagnosis – that their sleep was from sorrow – from heaviness of heart, from stress and distress. They knew something hard to face was coming.

Has anyone here ever struggled to get out of bed and face the day because of sorrow? The great apostles Peter, John and James can relate!

Look what Jesus said –

Why do you sleep? Deal with your stress by rising up and praying, lest you give in to temptation.

Jesus modeled aligning yourself with God in prayer, but here’s an illustration.

The Sponge illustration –

The bowl filled with water represents my anxious concerns. The other bowl represents God’s Hands. I am the sponge. And being in my anxious concerns has made me heavy with sorrow.

When we pray we take our cares and cast them upon the Lord, He replaces them with His peace as the heaviness is transferred to Him.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                     -Philippians 4:6-7

Jesus had prayed and risen up – he was ready for the next trial in a way they were not.

Look at verse 47a – While He was speaking, behold, a multitude.

Jesus was ready through prayer, and embraced the unfolding trials with courageous resolve!

His disciples were not ready through prayer, and failed miserably. But after His resurrection they got it, and themselves modelled it.

Peter later wrote, “Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”

Hey listen, it’s Sunday, but Tuesday is coming.

Won’t you commit to serious prayer between now and then, getting yourself ready spiritually for whatever comes next?

“I Voted” stickers from IFCJ.       Put one on, Danny.

So rise up and pray, rise up and vote, and then get on with what matters eternally, loving people in Jesus’ name!                     Let’s pray!