Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28 Sermon: Praying for Stuff

Sermon Texts: Matthew 7: 7-11
1 Chronicles 4: 9-10

Sermon Notes:

Praying for Stuff:
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a mercedes benz
my friends all drive porsches I must make amends
worked hard all my lifetime no help from my friends
so oh lord, won't you buy me a mercedes benz

Problem with praying for stuff is that I am suspicious about putting so much of my attention on myself will distract me from looking outward and praying for the relief of suffering much worse than my own desire for more or better things.

The desire for more or better things is a slippery path in our society. This way of thinking is the state religion of the culture we live in. It is too easy to get washed down the treacherous river of greed when we spend so much time thinking about what we might lack.

But, I’ve also had the opportunity to witness and talk with those who have

(((((((I brought these kinds of ideas to my idea of having this sermon, and I thought what I could use as kind of a foil book that was the counterpoint to what I wanted to say, that I could easily defeat in a preaching smack down. But, I hadn’t read the book. What I thought it represented was the essence of the prosperity Gospel.

The prosperity Gospel confuses consumerist impulses with God’s guidance. In all times, there have been pretenders to the Gospel, and I believe the prosperity Gospel, which uplifts the financial magnanimosity of the minister and leaders as evidence that God blesses them with gifts.

From the sheer spectacle of a minister flying from one megachurch to another in a private helicopter to the sickening displays of frivolous expenditures on expensive cars, suits, and jewelry, the prosperity Gospel communicates a message to it’s adherents that “if you do what we do, and believe what we believe, you can live how we live!”

The last stanza of Joplin’s “Lord won’t you buy me, puts into satirical lyric what the prosperity gospel actually broadcasts to the world:
lord won't you buy me a night on the town
I'm counting on you lord please don't let me down
prove that you love me and buy the next round
oh lord, won't you buy me a night on the town

So I took all these kinds of suspicions to the book that I had heard articulated that heresy that God wants to give you more stuff to glorify God. But, I did so with smugness, and fortunately, I decided would be unfair of me to criticize what I had not even read—and the size of the book wasn’t quite enough to say that I was intimidated by it’s length!

what I took away from the prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkenson, is that God can work in mysterious ways, Wilkinson addresses my concern in the first few pages: he writes, “Is it possible that God wants you to be “selfish” in your prayers? To ask for more—and more again—from your Lord? I’ve met so many earnest Christians who take it as a sign of immaturity to think such thoughts. They assume they’ll seem impolite or greedy if they ask God for too many blessings. I want to show you that such a prayer is not the self-centered act it might appear, but a suprememly spiritual one and exactly the kind of request our Father longs to hear.”

Basically, throughout the book, the author shows that asking God to “enlarge his territory” is another way of saying, “bless me to help you expand the boundaries of the Kingdom of God.”
1. Asking for blessing is asking for God’s grace to be visible and reflected in your life.
2. Expanding your territory is making more room for God to move in the world.
3. Once we have received the great blessings of God, we ask God to keep us from evil—we ask to be kept from the temptation.

The author wrote that he’s been asked if it was wrong to pray for advancements in the world of business, and he answers that if that business is being done in a way that Christ would find appealing, then yes, of course. Why not ask?

Perhaps praying for stuff is better than not praying at all—if you’re sincerely and genuinely seeking connection and guidance with God, that’s better than just being aloof. God can direct you if you’re seeking a connection.

Perhaps seeking that connection will help us discern just how difficult it is to conduct business in a way that Jesus would find appealing. As far as investments go, would Jesus applaud the growth of a tobacco company that targets children in Africa to become the next generation of smokers? Would he applaud the church that gains from investing in that kind of company?

As with praying out of anger, staying in touch with God even when we are “asking for ourselves,” it is better to commune with God in all our fallen state. God knows who we are, so we might as well be honest with ourselves about that.

Praying for Personal Gain for when one is already surrounded by plenty can turn to greed. Praying for personal gain when one is surrounded by debt and confusion can turn to a sense of God-given purpose and direction.

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