Sunday Service 14 February 2021 – God hears the heartfelt prayer

We want to thank the Lord that He has granted us this day that we can meet around His word. Christian brother and sister, it is of vital importance that we attend to that which is the Lord’s and that we can hear what His Holy Spirit tells us. This is the only way in which we can be effective in the world at this time. Even if we tend the Lord’s sheep, we also need to hear from the Great Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. He seeks the well-being of His sheep. Do not neglect this duty to tend to the sheep. Stay in contact with your sheep - the brethren. Listen to their needs, see whether all is well, so that we may assist one another as part of the body of Christ. Just like a father feels for his children who helplessly look for guidance, do not forget those spiritual children. Maintain contact. The Bible instructs us to not only attend to our own needs but also to the needs of others. If you have a need and are in distress, do not remain silent. When the Lord passed by, people cried out to make sure that the Lord heard them – “Lord, hear my voice, hear my cry, I have a need, I cannot continue in my present state. You are the Redeemer who offers us life and salvation.” You might feel lonely, however, if the Lord is with you and if others can encourage you, be consoled and revived. Stay in fellowship with the brethren. This will be a great help to you so that you do not need to suffer unnecessarily.

11 Soon afterwards[c] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother. Luke 7:11 – 15

 

In this text are two large crowds: the one following Jesus and the other, accompanying this dead man. What marks the difference is when the Lord saw this woman and His heart went out to her. His compassion reached the mother. And He said, “Do not weep.” Do not wail. Do not mourn. This is the hour when you stop wailing, mourning, and crying. Whatever our present situation, let us be seen by Jesus, let us meet Jesus. Jesus is not restricted to a place or a people but wherever there are hearts that cry out to Him, His ear is close to attend to that cry. His word teaches us that He is close to those who are of a contrite and a broken heart. (Psalm 34:18) If you do not cry, if you do not have a broken heart, do not expect God to work and reach your needs. (This is totally different from people who claim God’s promises and who try to make a show of testing the Lord and using the gospel and the power of the name of Jesus to raise dead people.) Jesus did not come for the haughty and proud. He did not come to give you a self-image. The gospel is preached to the poor and the needy. Jesus was drawn to those who were needy, who saw themselves as poor, wretched and hopeless and who lifted their eyes to the Heavenly Father.

In the past you might have experienced Jesus coming to you, being very close to you and hearing your cry. No one can answer that need, that cry, as Jesus can. We have frequently been challenged and reminded of times in the past when God worked in our hearts, raised us out of death when we were mere corpses and dead men without Jesus. Now, however, the Lord laments and He recalls the time of your devotion, when your heart was tender, when you loved your Saviour, Jesus, and your fellow believers with whom you worked in the Lord’s vineyard, to labour in the will of God for your life. What a pity if Jesus is presently crying when He sees us.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6 This word struck me. We can be God’s treasured possession. What do you treasure? It seemed as if God forgot about the universe and all He had created and He selected you as His prized, treasured possession.

Jesus went to the town called Nain and we know Nain for this fact: when Jesus saw her, he felt compassion. His heart went out to this mother and He said, “Do not weep.” Are you His treasured possession? In your family, doing your job, are you God’s treasured possession there? Are you His treasured possession in this corrupt, defiled world? His attention is on you. He looks at what your heart produces. Many heads will have to bow in shame if they consider this.

As God saw a Job, He said, “Have you considered my servant Job…” there in the land of Uz? (Job 1:8) God works as He wills, at different times, to glorify Himself. Your heart should cry to God to be spiritually alive to the things that matter, and which are God’s. If you do not have this heart, you will find yourself on the opposite end with wrong feelings and conclusions because you evaluate things according to your biblical knowledge and interpretation. You will find yourself puffed up in your own evaluations. Is your Christian walk decided by what God says? What does God’s Spirit tell you now? Is He happy? Does He approve of your present thoughts? Will you remain His treasured possession if you allow those thoughts? Will you be His treasure if you speak in that manner to an individual or people? This requires self-denial, self-sacrifice, and an earnest heart’s cry to God whereby you seek the heavenly, not the earthly, the carnal or the human element.

I would like to illustrate through the experiences of George Muller who lived in the 1800s. I was blessed by reading of some of his experiences. He was known as the man who was called to tend to orphans in England in his area where he lived. He started small and the work grew. Very often, he writes in his notes, that all his needs for the orphanages ‘I brought to the Lord and in prayer I received answers’. All in all, he cared for about 2100 orphans together with the people who assisted him to care for the orphans.

He once prayed about expanding the work to build houses for another 700 orphans. He wanted assurance from the Lord that it was His will. He did not want his feelings to be involved. He did not even want his excitement to be involved. He sought God’s will and an assurance from God that this was indeed something that God had placed in his heart.

Dec. 26. 1850 – Fifteen days have elapsed since I wrote the preceding paragraph. Every day since then I have continued to pray about this matter, and that with a goodly measure of earnestness, by the help of God. There has passed scarcely an hour during these days, in which, whilst awake, this matter has not been more or less before me. But all without even a shadow of excitement. I converse with no one about it. Hitherto have I not even done so with my dear wife. From this I refrain still, and deal with God alone about the matter, in order that no outward influence, and no outward excitement may keep me from attaining unto a clear discovery of His will. I have the fullest and most peaceful assurance, that He will clearly show me his will… .” P59 Answers to Prayer from George Muller’s Narratives, Compiled by A.E.C. Brooks

We have the privilege in revival to share our burdens with those who are like-minded and one in spirit. We have the privilege of seeking God’s will with the blessing of the Lord. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

George Muller said that he was willing to wait a year or whatever time for an answer. This issue was so thoroughly on the altar that he did not set any time frames. He was only concerned that the Lord’s will would be done, and His purpose attained. He repeatedly noted down the needs of the orphanages. He never asked anybody for any means or support. All that he received was through communicating with his heavenly Father. Even the people who had to come to tend to the orphans, he left in the Lord’s hands. He did not invite people saying, “Come and join us, please make it a matter of prayer.” He openly states that this was something between Him and the Lord. He says that at times he did not even inform his wife of his prayers.

“Sep. 4 1844 – Only one farthing was in my hands this morning. Pause a moment, dear reader! Only one farthing in hand when the day commenced. Think of this and think of nearly 140 persons to be provided for. You, poor brethren, who have six or eight children and small wages, think of this; and you, my brethren, who do not belong to the working classes, but have, as it is called, very limited means, think of this! May you not do, what we do, under your trials? Does the Lord love you less than He loves us? Does He not love all His children with no less love than that, with which He loves His only begotten Son, according to John xvii. 20-23? Or are we better than you? Nay, are we not in ourselves poor miserable sinners as you are; and have any of the children of God any claim upon God, on account of their own worthiness? Is not that, which alone can make us worthy to receive anything from our Heavenly Father, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, which is imputed to those who believe in Him? Therefore, dear reader, as we pray in our every need, of whatever character it may be, in connection with this work, to our Father in Heaven for help, and as He does help us, so is He willing to help all His children who put their trust in Him. – Well, let us hear then, how God helped when there was only one farthing left in my hands, on the morning of Sept. 4, 1844. “A little after nine o’clock I received a sovereign from a sister in the Lord, who does not wish the name of the place, where she resides, mentioned. Between ten and eleven o’clock the bag was sent from the Orphan-Houses, in which in a note it was stated that £I 2s. was required for to-day. SCARCELY HAD I READ THIS, when a fly stopped before my house, and a gentleman, Mr. _______, from the neighbourhood of Manchester, was announced. I found that he was a believer, who had come on business to Bristol. He had heard about the Orphan-Houses, and expressed his surprise, that without any regular system of collections, and without personal application to anyone, simply by faith and prayer, I obtained £2,000 and more yearly for the work of the Lord in my hands. This brother, whom I had never seen before; and whose name I did not even know before he came, gave me £2, as an exemplification of what I had stated to him.” P41,42 Answers to Prayer from George Muller’s Narratives, Compiled by A.E.C. Brooks

George Muller took note of every pound, shilling and pence. There are precious things to read. He did not only want to support his own orphanages, but he also had a heart for missions so that people could be sent abroad with the gospel to the unreached. Look at what God did through his testimony of how God supplied his needs in the orphanages and in the work which the Lord had designated to Him.

“In November 1856, a young Irishman, Mr. James McQuilkin, was brought to the knowledge of the Lord. And then he saw the two books or got hold of the two volumes of the book of the narrative which George Muller had written. He said to himself something like this: ‘See what Mr. Muller obtains simply by prayer. Thus, I may obtain blessing by prayer.’ He now set himself to pray, that the Lord would give him a spiritual companion, one who knew the Lord. Soon after he became acquainted with a young man who was a believer. These two began a prayer-meeting in one of the Sunday Schools in the parish of Connor. Having his prayer answered in obtaining a spiritual companion, Mr James McQuilkin asked the Lord to lead him to become acquainted with some more of His hidden ones. Soon after the Lord gave him two more young men, who were believers previously, as far as he could judge. In Autumn 1857, Mr James McQuilkin stated to these three young men, given him in answer to believing prayer, what blessing he had derived from my Narrative, how it had led him to see the power of believing prayer; and he proposed that they should meet for prayer to seek the Lord’s blessing upon their various labours in the Sunday Schools, prayer meetings, and preaching of the Gospel. Accordingly, in Autumn 1857, these four young men met together for prayer in a small schoolhouse near the village of Kells, in the parish of Connor, every Friday evening. By this time, the great and mighty working of the Spirit in 1857, in the United States, had become known, and Mr James McQuilkin said to himself, ‘Why may not we have such a blessed work here, seeing that God did such great things for Mr Muller, simply in answer to prayer.’

On January 1, 1858, the Lord gave them the first remarkable answer to prayer in the conversion of a farm servant. He was taken into the number, and thus there were five who gave themselves to prayer. Shortly after, another young man, about 20 years old, was converted; there were now six ... they met in fellowship, they read, prayed, and offered to each other a few thoughts from the Scriptures.

 

So, he relates how one after the other people came and were converted.

Some believed, some mocked, and others thought there was a great deal of presumption in these young converts; yet many wished to have another meeting …and now the Spirit of God began to work, and from that time conversions multiplied rapidly. Some of these converts went to other places, and carried the spiritual fire, so to speak, with them. The blessed work of the Spirit of God spread in many places.

In April 5th, they held meetings in another of the Presbyterian churches. Several were convinced of sin and the work of the Spirit of God went forward … “Such was the beginning of that mighty work of the Holy Spirit, which has led to the conversion of hundreds of thousands; for some of my readers will remember how in 1859 this fire was kindled in England, Wales and Scotland; how it spread through Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland; how the continent of Europe was more or less partaking of this mighty working of the Holy Spirit; how it led thousands to give themselves to the work of Evangelists; and how up to the year 1874 not only the effects of this work, first begun in Ireland, are felt, but that still more or less this blessed work is going on in Europe generally. It is almost needless to add, that in no degree the honour is due to the instruments, but to the Holy Spirit alone; yet these facts are stated, in order that it may be seen, what delight God has in answering abundantly the believing prayer of His children.” P37,38 Answers to Prayer from George Muller’s Narratives, Compiled by A.E.C. Brooks

Just think of this great working of the Lord. Hundreds of thousands were converted through one person who said, “Here is a man whose prayers are answered by God. Why can’t God answer my prayers? Is God not faithful? Will He not hear your cry if you avail yourself to be His treasured possession? Who is the obstacle that hinders God from working? You and me with our unwilling, uncircumcised, and hard hearts.  This is how far-reaching the effects of the life of George Muller were. Although he kept his prayers to himself and did not announce them, thousands became evangelists through hearing the message of this man who was quiet and diligent, attending to God’s will for His life. I did not research how he supported Hudson Taylor in China. Missionaries were sent to Switzerland and Germany and other places. God can reach out through people whom the Lord sees. He has compassion on them because He chooses people. Who does He choose? Those who draw nigh to God. This happened in the 1800s and we are witnesses of what God is doing in the 1900s and 2000s. Are you crying out to God or is God weeping about you, His treasured possession?

John the Baptist had hard words against the Pharisees, this unrepentant, fruitless, religious group. One of them Nicodemus, came to the Lord at night and said, “Master, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:2 He said no one can perform the miracles and great deeds that you are doing, we acknowledge that. Jesus stopped him in his tracks and said, “Are you a teacher of Israel…unless you are born again you will not see the Kingdom of heaven.” John 3:3,10. May Jesus overthrow our words and our knowing and hit the nail on the head - You need to be born again.

One man of God says that you need to repent every day of your life. You need to be in that state of repentance every day because there is one who is higher than you - the one who has His spirit and He imparts it to those who are His treasured possession.

Do you have that cry, “Lord see me, don’t see the others? Do not look at what others are busy with, but I need to be awakened out of the sleep of death.” Would you not like His heart to go out to you? Would you not like to receive comfort from Him so that He says, do not cry – your misery and your sin, I have dealt with. No sin should master you.

George Muller said that he thanked the Lord that he could lay his sin off and that he was free of his sin. Sin had been dealt with in his life and God could hear his cry. He said that they often cried to the Lord up to five or six times a day. They would meet and bring their pleas before the Lord because they had needs but saw that they did not have sufficiency.

May the Lord bless His work - which will be blessed if we walk in God’s sight, if His eye is upon us and we obey every instruction, if we are open to every rebuke, reprimand and correction. We can have that hope and assurance that it will not be our work or just a history of God’s doing, but a life in God’s will, partaking of the mercies and compassion of Jesus as He looks on us.

Will you be like this Irishman who heard of the working of God through George Muller? He did not say, Well, that is for Southern England, for his ministry…” No, he said, “God, can’t you hear my prayers? Start here in my home, where I am, can’t you reveal your great power?

Child, what do you hope for? What are you studying for? Teenager, what moves your feet? Some love shaking their bottom while dancing, even in church services, they do this. One day your bottom will rot and be eaten by the maggots. Cry out for things eternal, for things that have value.

George Muller asks, “What will happen the day you die? What have you stored up in heaven? Will you arrive as a beggar? I wonder whether the gate keepers of heaven will allow you in empty-handed.” You have a mind, an intellect but you use it for your studies, the furtherance of your self-esteem and a massing up of your own possessions, your own comfort and desires and your own values of life.

Jesus came as an example and He loved not the world neither the things of this world. Naked we came and naked will we leave. What will last?

David is recorded as a man after God’s heart. He wished to build a house for the Lord. When Jesus was on earth, the creator of heaven and earth had no place to rest His head. Someone asked Him, “Master, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” John 1:38,39 He said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

David said that he wished to build a dwelling for the Lord. God answered, “Would you build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:5) I will build a house for you. I will build you a house. (2 Samuel 7:11) The Lord then said, “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.” 1 Chronicles 22:8 God said that He would allow David’s son to build a house. David planned and prepared everything. He spoke to his son, Solomon, and directed him in the construction of the temple. David took of his own possessions and gave 100 tons of gold to be used in the building of the temple. He also asked his leaders whether they wanted to contribute and they contributed another 150 tons of gold. (1 Chronicles 29) This is what a person is willing to give in gratitude to the One who called him as His prized possession.

Friends, actually I did not need to speak about all this because you know it all and you have heard it all, but may it serve as a reminder and quicken you. Do not forget the great things God has done in the past. God has given us people with hearts that are scarce in this world. However, the heart of man is evil. If it stops crying out to God, if it stops feeling the pain for the wrong in your own life - if you are not broken-hearted your heart tends to set hard, like concrete. Work your heart while it is still in a fluid state before the concrete hardens. Work at it so that the Lord can bless even our prayers and thus it will please Him to hear our cry and be compassionate to us. May the Lord bless what we have heard, even if it was spoken in weakness.