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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Matt's Messages - My Prayer for You

“My Prayer for You”
January 27, 2008
2 Corinthians 13:14

Last year, I preached through the Old Testament book of Numbers and at the end of each service, I prayed over you the priestly blessing from Numbers chapter 6: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

That blessing was my prayer for you in 2007.

Today, I want to give you my prayer for you in 2008.

It is the Apostle Paul’s final prayer for the Corinthian church to whom he has written a very personal and powerful letter. This prayer comes in the form of a benediction. “Bene” is the Latin for good, and “diction” means word, so a benediction is a good-word spoken over you. A blessing. A prayer that is spoken over someone.

And this benediction blessing is not just some nice words tacked onto the end of a long letter.

It’s not just the apostolic equivalent of “Have a nice day!”

These words express an unbelievable spiritual reality that Paul desired for the Corinthian church and that I desire for you in 2008.

“My Prayer You” is 2 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 14:

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

The first thing I want you to notice is the last word in the verse.

This was a prayer for “all.”

Paul’s prayer request, Paul’s blessing, Paul’s benediction was for each and every believer at Corinth to experience the blessings of this prayer.

And it is my prayer for each and every one of you, as well.

It is my prayer for those who are too young to understand what I’m saying right now.

It is my prayer for Haley Woodling, Keagan Dobo, and Katelyn Hurley.

It is also my prayer for pre-schoolers who could grasp each of these words–many of whom are back in our excellent children’s church program right now.

It is also my prayer for grade school students. And for junior highers. And for senior high students and for graduates. I hope you’re listening.

It is my prayer for those who are getting started with college or jobs or families.

And for those who have things underway. For those who are in their 30's and 40's. For those who are married and for those who are single, unmarried, widowed, divorced.

It is my prayer for you if your kids have left the nest (or should have by now!). Or if your kids died early. Or you never had any kids.

This is my prayer for you in 2008 for those who are taking care of their parents. For those who are retiring or wishing they were. For those who are “senior saints” getting up in years. On my meals on wheels route, there is a precious lady who tells me that “There’s nothing golden about the golden years!” Well, this is gold, and I’m praying it for you!

This is my prayer for you who are soon to pass from this life to the next.

This is my prayer for you, as your pastor in 2008. And it is for ALL.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

The second thing I want you to see is the Trinitarian nature of this prayer.

Paul includes a prayer for something from the Son of God (“The Lord Jesus Christ”) and from God the Father, (I think that’s Whom is being referenced as loving. When there is no modifier, I think that most references to God are God the Father), and the clincher is the last, God the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s prayer is for the fullest blessing of the blessed Trinity to be with all of the believers at Corinth.

You know, we don’t talk enough about the Trinity.

There is only one God. And, yet, He exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three.

One God perfect in every way. Three persons each sharing the fullness of the divine nature yet distinct in personhood, relationship with each other, and distinctive roles.

I’ve been reading an excellent little book about the Trinity that I highly recommend. Anyone here with a high-school education could read this book, and most of our teens could, too. It’ll take little bit of thinking, but that’s the point, isn’t it? I highly recommend it to you.

Bruce Ware, one of my old professors at Trinity, now an associate dean at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance. This is not a dry piece of theology. It is very relevant to our lives! The Trinity is very relevant to our lives!

Paul knew that, and that’s why he prays this way.

I almost titled this message: “Experiencing the Trinity” because that’s what Paul wants for these believers. He wants them to have the full experience of the full blessing of God in Three Persons, the Blessed Trinity!

And that’s what I want for you.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Let’s take each part of that one at a time.

My Prayer for You #1. MAY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU.

I pray that you would experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is unmerited favor. It is unearned blessing.

Grace is not getting what I deserve and getting what I don’t deserve!

Grace is God’s blessing on the undeserving.

And I pray it for you!

We need grace. We need God’s blessing. And we are undeserving!

We can’t earn it. We can’t be worthy of it. But we desperately need it.

We need grace.

Saving Grace.
Sanctifying Grace.
Strengthening Grace.

We need grace. And we’ll need more grace in 2008!

But we don’t deserve it. The Bible says that we deserve condemnation.

We have earned for ourselves God’s wrath and not His good pleasure.

That’s why Paul says that he prays for the grace of...the Lord Jesus Christ!
Because Jesus died to give us grace.

Amazing Grace!

The whole point of the Cross is the unleashing of grace on God’s people.

One definition of grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

My prayer for you in 2008 is that you would experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace that comes through the Cross.

This is especially my prayer for you if you have not yet come to know Jesus Christ as your own Lord and your own Savior. Your own King and your own Rescuer!

I’ll tell you a secret. Some of your names are written on these little piece of orange paper in this Fish Bowl.

If you are not yet a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, having trusted in Him alone and what He did on the Cross for you, then we are praying for you that 2008 would be the year.

The year that you turned from your own way and trusted in the Way, Jesus.

The year that you left whatever unbiblical belief system you have been clinging to and rested in full reliance upon the Truth, Jesus.

The year that you walked away from an empty way of life and began a new Life in Jesus Christ.

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

And I pray that you would experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Hell Cancelled, Heaven Guaranteed!
Freedom from Sin, Self, and Satan!
Fresh, new, abundant life in Jesus.

Not because you deserve it, because you certainly do not.

But because of the Cross. Because Jesus hung there and died.

Because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But this prayer is not just for those who are not yet believers.

This is a prayer for ALL. So, there is more to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ than just simple saving grace.

There is also sanctifying grace. That’s the grace that comes to us and helps us to live holy lives. Set apart. Sanctifying grace.

And there is also strengthening grace.

The grace to go on. The grace to persevere. The grace to hang on and hold on through the tough times that 2008 will probably bring.

That grace comes to us through Jesus, as well!

And I pray it for you.

That you would grow in the sanctifying grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That 2008 would be the best year so far for you as a Christ-follower.

And that you would experience the strengthening grace of the Lord Jesus Christ–no matter what 2008 has in store.

My prayer for you is that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with you all.

And there’s more! That would be enough. But there’s more!

My Prayer For You #2. MAY THE LOVE OF GOD THE FATHER BE WITH YOU.

Back in November, when I asked you in the blue sermon surveys what you would appreciate me preaching on in the New Year, one of you said something like, “I would appreciate some simple messages about the love of God.”

This is for you.

I pray that the love of God would be with you.

That you would experience in 2008 an overwhelming sense of the unbelievable love of God...for you!

Do you know that God loves you?

God loves the whole world. He loves it enough to send rain on the just and unjust.

And He loves it enough to send His own Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

But do you know that God loves...you?

If you have come to believe the gospel and put your faith in Jesus Christ, then you can know that God loves...you!

God loves you.

Do you need to hear that today?

God loves you.

Christian, God loves you.

Do you know how much?

Here’s two ways of knowing how much:

#1. The Cross. God did the Cross out of love for you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ comes from the love of God the Father.

I have 3 sons. I don’t think I would give one of them for you. It would take a lot more love that I yet have in my heart.

God loved you enough to give His Son.

#2. The Father’s Love for His Son. This is how much God loves you: How much does He love His Son?

Remember what God said when Jesus was baptized?

“This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well-pleased.”

Do you know that God sees you in His Son, through His Son?

He loves you, with the love that He has for His Son!

I want you to know that, feel that, and experience that in 2008.

I want you to know that you are loved with a unbelievably great love!

If my preaching and teaching does not lead you into that love there is something wrong with my preaching and teaching.

My prayer for you in 2008 is that the love of God the Father will be with you all.

And it gets even better!

My Prayer for You #3. MAY THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU.

Now that word “fellowship” doesn’t mean doughnuts and coffee.

Sometimes we use it that way. “Let’s have some fellowship” means lets have some food!

And of course, food is a great way to have fellowship. That’s why we use the phrase table “fellowship,” meaning sharing food together and sharing together over food.

But the word “fellowship” basically means a partnership. It means something shared between two or more people.

It means togetherness in something, some cause, some item, some person that binds people together. That’s fellowship.

We often use the word “relationship” to get at this closeness, this togetherness.

Well, Paul prays that the Corinthian believers would not just experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, but also the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

I think that means that they would experience a close relationship to God through God’s Empowering Presence in the person of the Holy Spirit.

That these believers would experience communion with God. Direct communion with God through the Spirit.

Now, I could go on an on about that! In fact, I’m going to for the next few months!

Next Sunday, we’re going to begin a new sermon series on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. And I’m going to title it, “The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”

I think it’s time for us to concentrate our minds on the Bible’s teaching about the Spirit and His work among us so that we can better experience Him at work in our lives.

I invite you to come every Sunday for the next 2 or 3 months as we think deeply about God the Spirit and His mysterious ministry among us.

And I pray that you would experience Him in living relationship. May the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

It may also be that Paul had in mind a little bit of a different fellowship here, as well. The fellowship of believers because of the Holy Spirit. The context might point to that because of Paul’s desire for unity among the believers.

The Holy Spirit is Who creates the church. We wouldn’t be able to have our fellowship here at this meeting, or that the dinner to follow, or at the meeting after that if it wasn’t for Him.

I am very thankful for our fellowship as a church.

This Wednesday, right about quitting time, I had some visitors drop in from the Interstate.

They were trying to get from Florida to Texas to Indiana to New York City and they had run out of money.

Their names were Lance, JaTon, Fred, and Lindsey. And JaTon was pregnant with a little girl named Justice.

Heather and I decided to bring them home and give them a home-cooked meal and offer them a place to stay for the night.

Fred said, “I’m not used to this hospitality!”

The kids enjoyed playing with them. And then when it was time to leave, they backed up into the yard and their car wheel fell into a hole that the kids have dug in the front yard! We had to get out and push them out of the hole.

I invited them to come with us to church. They were followers of Christ, as well. And, so, we were family!

And I knew how you folks would treat them. I knew that you would take them in as family.

They were different than many of us are. They looked different. They talked a little different. They hadn’t made good plans or acted wisely in figuring out how to get from here to there. Fred didn’t even have a winter coat!

But we could experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit together.

And I had every confidence that you love them with the Love of the Father.

You know why, because I know that you are full of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanks for being that kind of a church!

My Prayer for You is that you would grow even deeper in that kind of grace, love, and fellowship.

And that you would experience the fullest blessing of the blessed Trinity!

As your pastor, my prayer for you in 2008 is: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Amen.

[In preparation for this sermon, I was deeply influenced by this message from C.J. Mahaney on this passage: Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry. Thank you to Sovereign Grace Ministries for providing it free of charge on their website!]

3 comments:

Hi Matt!

The reason why maybe believers don’t talk enough about the Trinity ...
is because the trinity doctrine of a God existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three in One. One in Three. ...
is simply not scriptural!

The Scriptures simply teach that
there is solely ONE GOD, the Father.
Jesus the Messiah is the ONE GOD's human Son;
and the holy spirit is now the operational presence and power of both the Father and the Son.

Besides, Jesus was not a trinitarian!


And since you're recommending books, may I recommend a book by the same title ...
Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

The Human Jesus

Adam,

Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your passion for what you think is true.

However, I think you are terribly wrong. What you are saying is heresy and dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.

The Bible does teach the Trinitarian reality of God. [See this article from DesiringGod that is annotated with copious scripture references.]

Adam, I know that this teaching is mysterious and difficult to understand at first, but I believe that it is the truth and will continue to teach it and live out its implications.

My prayer for you is that you come to enjoy the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

-Matt Mitchell

Thank you for your prayer.
I believe I am currently enjoying such grace, love and fellowship.
And I hope to continue to do so by GOD's grace.


My prayer for you and all your readers is that you come
to question and decline the grace of 'a God the Son' and the fellowship of 'a God the Holy Spirit'.