Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 41: Don’t Lose Heart

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 41 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “Doubt is the enemy of faith. What are some doubts you have when praying?”

When Jesus finished telling the disciples about His second coming to deliver the saints from God’s wrath upon the earth, He followed it with the Parable of the Unjust Judge. The parable is meant to be an encouragement to all of His disciples and its purpose is to show them that at all times they should pray and not lose heart. It has a practical everyday application in the lives of all Christians. And more pointedly to those who are alive just prior to His second coming, as Jesus concludes the parable with the statement, However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Read: Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Unjust Judge is a contrasting parable, as God who is a just judge is unlike the unjust judge.

Since the parable is contrasting, the opposites are true with a just judge. Therefore the parable is indicating that with God you do not have to keep coming to Him with the same request; He heard you the first time. You do not have to wear God out; He is willing to make judgment in your favor and will do so quickly. But from Jesus’ opening and closing statements “ought to pray and not to lose heart” and “will He find faith on the earth” it appears that some Christians are not praying with faith but only hope.

The Parable of the Unjust Judge clearly indicates that if a Christian has faith that God will answer his just prayer request, favorably and quickly. However, many Christians are quick to point out that the Apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” from which he was not delivered after repeatedly asking God to take it away (2 Corinthians 12:1-9).

According to Paul’s testimony he was given a “thorn in the flesh” evidently by God as a gift to him or at least with God’s permission. The reason he was given the “thorn in the flesh” was to keep him from exalting himself or becoming prideful (Numbers 33:55). This was a result of having seen great visions and revelations of the Lord.

Though we may never know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, we can draw some conclusions about Paul’s prayer life. It appears that Paul believed his prayers would be answered if he prayed with the right motive, didn’t fear the circumstances and believed that what he prayed for would come to pass. He exhibited his faith by his actions. He didn’t just pray for the salvation of people but actually preached to them.

Since Paul says he prayed three times for the same thing it appears not to be normal to continually ask God for the same thing. The greatest elapsed time between the potential onset on the “thorn in the flesh” and his reporting of it to the Corinthians was fourteen years. So it appears that when Paul prayed he gave the Lord adequate time to answer his prayer. But he also didn’t give up until God answered him.

The point of the lesson is to pray and do not lose heart . . . have faith in the God who is both just and loves you.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:

Why did Jesus say, “Permit the infants to come to me . . . Do not hinder them?”

. . . and the homework assignment . . .

Start a prayer journal for your major prayers recording the date of the prayer, what was asked of God and the date on which you observed the first fulfillment. There can be multiple fulfillments or greater and lesser fulfillments.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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