Quick: when did the American Revolution end? Most people assume it started in 1776 (though it actually started about a year before the Declaration of Independence). If you guessed 1783, you’d be right! At least historically speaking. But according to John Adams, one of the nation’s founders, he believed the war was won way before 1783:
“[The] radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution”
In that sense, the war was won before it was ever even fought.
We are about to start a new sermon series on the Book of Exodus. It is a book full of plagues, thunder, smoke, walls of water, earth quakes and works of power. It tells the story of God’s relentless pursuit of the rescue of His people, fulfilling the promises he made to Abraham four hundred years earlier. It roots God’s law and instructions on the worship of God in the context of this great rescue plan unfurled. Yet, as we walk through the story, we will begin to realize that the real battle taking place is on the battlefield of the heart. Like the John Adam’s quote above, God is chasing His covenant people with His grace to change their principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections concerning God and life. It is the same hunt God has begun in us and won’t stop until our hearts are His.
It was a mess of a church. Well, maybe church is stretching it a bit too far. It was more of a community of refugees. Count Zinzendorf parceled out his own land to let various Christians from around Europe to find refuge and create a small community. This little rag-tag bunch of just about 300 spoke dozens of languages and had various theological backgrounds. And the worst of it was, this new ‘shining example’ of Christian community called Herrnhut was known for its bickering and fighting. At his wit’s end, Count Zinzendorf, in May of 1727 and finally came to a conclusion he should have come to way before; he could not change people. He could not make this a pinnacle of the Reformation; he wasn’t smart enough, talented enough, etc. to make it work. So what do you do in a situation like that? Pray. And pray is what he did.
In 1727 Zinzendorf called on the community to begin praying continually. Not just every day, but every hour, of every day of every week, of every year, each member of the community had an allotted hour to pray on a prayer rotation. This small community of 300 prayed 24/7 for revival, for the church, for unity, for the spread of the Gospel. And how long did they keep this up? Maybe a couple of months? That would certainly be a testament! Or for a whole year? That would be something! But they lasted much longer. This community prayed from 1727 to well into the 1830’s. That’s right, over 100 years of 24/7 prayer. What were the effects? On the 65th anniversary, it was recounted that there had been over 300 missionaries sent throughout the world from that tiny little community that numbered as much at its beginning. Three of the most notable men impacted by missionaries from Herrnhut were none other than George Whitfield, John, and Charles Wesley.
I guess you take away from this story a few things. You could just be impressed, but in light of that kind of commitment, I think most of us would despair. But I think this story is valuable not so much for us to marvel at a church’s commitment to prayer; I think we ought to marvel at God’s grace in using broken human beings like the villagers of Herrnhut (or us), and His astounding faithfulness in using prayer to build His Kingdom. May you be encouraged this week to have a chat with the God of all glory, who works wonders and is establishing his Kingdom through His Church.
Part of our focus this coming year at Harbor Church is encouraging prayer throughout our church family. In order to do kick off this renewed focus, we are going to be holding a 24 Hour Day of Prayer from Friday, Feb 3rd through Saturday, Feb 4th. Our prayer focus during that time will be for the spiritual needs of the people around us. Here are a few ways you can be involved:
Listen: Pastor Michael is preaching three sermons in January on prayer
Complete: Fill out one or more yellow prayer cards and return by Jan 22nd (instructions on the card) – You can email your requests as well.
Sign up: Put your name or your family’s name down for a devoted hour or more to pray for those listed on the cards (yellow sign up sheet located in the lobby)
Attend: Come to the conclusion of our 24 hour day of prayer at Harbor from 5-6pm on Saturday, Feb 4th.
Pray: Pray for the Day of Prayer, that God would use it to make us a people marked by prayer
It was a weird one this week! Because Sunday services were canceled due to weather I felt like I both preached and didn’t preach seeing as how I recorded my sermon for you all Saturday evening (by the way, you may hear my children in the background: there is no quiet room in my house!). The recorded sermon is my first installment of a three-part mini-series on prayer leading up to our 24-Hour Day of prayer (Feb 3-4). In that sermon, I mentioned a phrase from Charles Spurgeon and I thought it might be encouraging to you all to quote further from his sermon on prayer and God’s sovereignty. Notice in the following quote the part about Jesus being an ‘eye witness’ to God’s decrees:
“Moreover, in other matters we never regulate our actions by the unknown decrees of God; as for instance, a man never questions whether he shall eat or drink, because it may or may not be decreed that he shall eat or drink; a man never enquires whether he shall work or not on the ground that it is decreed how much he shall do or how little; as it is inconsistent with common sense to make the secret decrees of God a guide to us in our general conduct, so we feel it would be in reference to prayer, and therefore still we pray. But we have a better answer than all this. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes forward, and he says to us this morning, “My dear children, the decrees of God need not trouble you, there is nothing in them inconsistent with your prayers being heard. ‘I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you.’ ” Now, who is he that says this? Why it is he that has been with the Father from the beginning—”the same was in the beginning with God” and he knows what the purposes of the Father are and what the heart of God is, for he has told us in another place, “the Father himself loveth you.”
Now since he knows the decrees of the Father, and the heart of the Father, he can tell us with the absolute certainty of an eye-witness that there is nothing in the eternal purposes in conflict with this truth, that he that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth. He has read the decrees from the beginning to end: hath he not taken the book, and loosed the seven seals thereof, and declared the ordinances of heaven? He tells you there is nothing there inconsistent with your bended knee and streaming eye, and with the Father’s opening the windows of heaven to shower upon you the blessings which you seek. Moreover, he is himself God: the purposes of heaven are his own purposes, and he who ordained the purpose here gives the assurance that there is nothing in it to prevent the efficacy of prayer. “I say unto you.” O ye that believe in him, your doubts are scattered to the winds, ye know that he heareth your prayer.” (Taken From www.gracesermons.com/hisbygrace/whypray.html)
Sorry folks! We want to make sure you all are safe during this latest bout of snow and ice. We may be apart, but please take Sunday as a day to worship with your family.