Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
From the Bible: Luke 11:2, Revelation 5:9; 7:9, Matthew 24:14
Luke 11:2c (Holman) “Your kingdom come.”
God rules a moral, spiritual kingdom whose adherents give absolute allegiance to King Jesus by enthroning only Him in their hearts. The fact we have to make a request for God’s kingdom to come proves its advance is not automatic.
Opposition has to be overcome. Another spiritual kingdom is at work. God’s reign of light is resisted by Satan’s reign of darkness.
God created this world to be His, but Satan seduced our race into a rebellion so successful that even the Bible calls him “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan wanted to keep Earth solely for himself, but God refused to abandon our race to the sinister foe.
The main drama of human history has been God’s epic struggle to take back this world. God continues to march steadily forward, consistently reclaiming the people of Earth for Himself.
In Heaven John heard a song, “You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). In Heaven John saw “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Revelation 7:9). This song and vision forecast God’s inevitable victory in His irresistible movement to be known in every corner of Satan’s usurped territory.
Jesus predicted worldwide success for His cause. “This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all
nations. And then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Satan resists God’s advance at every hand. Be assured, the battle is engaged and intense. We will never succeed in missions without much praying, and we will never succeed in missions praying without being mindful of the fact a cosmic war ceaselessly rages in microcosm in each and every heart.
Prayer is so essential to our spiritual success that Satan takes extra pains to attack it. Few activities make the foul fiend happier than to come between God and a saint in prayer. Sin can defile our devotions even while we are praying. It’s a thought almost too bizarre to think, but true nonetheless.
We might think prayer is always a safe spiritual haven to retreat into, but not so. Look at Jesus’ life. His two most intense spiritual struggles occurred while He was praying. During His forty days in the wilderness, and His agony in Gethsemane Garden, His trauma was so severe that angels came to comfort Him.
In these two intense times of prayer, Satan presented his strongest temptation to Jesus. Nothing is too sacred for Satan to attack. In fact, the holier a moment is, the more he loves to spoil it and make it foul.
How can this happen? How is it possible for Satan to hamstring us in our most sacred moments, to put sin in our prayers? We should not be surprised when sin follows us into God’s presence. Sin originated there.
I remind us of a truth so staggering that we are ever in danger of forgetting it. Sin began in Heaven, in the very presence of God. One who stood as close to God as I stand to this pulpit conceived the first plot against the Holy One. Lucifer, a bright shining angel, one of the innermost circle, birthed sin.
Be not surprised sin can enter heaven again by means of our prayers. Sin rises on spiritual frequencies originating from our inner essence. We cripple ourselves if we forget sin is a disposition inside us prior to a deed outside us.
Sin is headquartered within us. Sin is so much a part of our nature that even when we are engaged in the holiest activity, we have to battle against it.
When we kneel to pray we do not automatically drive sin away. We have to acknowledge its presence, and intentionally overcome it by Christ’s blood.
Each time we pray, we must repeat the process of seeking God’s cleansing. Otherwise, sin insipidly overtakes even our prayers.
Once we are confident of our own inner purity, we can then and only then turn our attention to missions praying. Our prayer is for local and global victory in missions, God’s ultimate war. Look at our lost neighbors and silently pray, “Your kingdom come.” Weep over lost kin and plead, “Your kingdom come.” Think of the world’s unreached peoples and beg, “Your kingdom come.”
In every situation where we confront the kingdom of lostness, pray, “Your kingdom come.” We find victory by praying, by flooding Heaven with requests, and then going forth to harvest the results. We have not adequately prayed for God to change unbelievers until we have prayed for God to change us.
As we pray “Your kingdom come” be not content with weak generalities, such as “Lord, save my neighbors and folks overseas,” or “Lord, bless everyone it’s our duty to pray for.” Pray instead for a specific self-directed strategy, “Lord, Your kingdom come next door and around the world. Make Your salvation known to them by raising up witnesses, beginning with me.”
Not every Christian is called to be a career USA or international missionary, but every believer is expected to be a world Christian, one who prays and labors for God’s kingdom to come to every corner of the globe, from pole to pole, from sea to sea, in every continent, country, county, city, and citizen of earth.
For God’s kingdom to come, someone has to go, to break through enemy lines, and open up the way. For prechristians to be won to the kingdom, Christians have to make it happen. A believer must take the Word to unbelievers next door. A missionary or a mission team must take the Word farther afield.
We in the USA were blessed early on by the efforts of others to extend to us Christ’s kingdom. In the mid-1600s, Puritan pastor John Trapp, of England, challenged his congregation, “Let us also pity and pray for such poor souls in Asia and America as worship the devil.” The Puritans did more than only pray. Between 1627 and 1640, 15,000 of them (including Abraham Lincoln’s ancestors) emigrated from England to America to bring God’s blessing to our shores.
The seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had on it a Northern American Indian, saying, “Come over and help us” (see Acts 16:9). The Puritans brought the Gospel to us; their legacy has lasted, and still blesses us.
For God’s kingdom to come, someone has to go. Not only must we each go; we must also help others go. Thus, missions requires giving. Everything we do in missions is connected in one way or another to the American one dollar bill.
Let me encourage you. It is wrong to brag of accomplishments, and what I tell you now is not from pride, but from a spirit of only wanting to bless you.
You the people of Second Baptist Church gave through the Cooperative Program, our direct missionary support, and our World Missions Offering over one million dollars to missions in 2008. This is the first time we have ever reached this milestone in the 124-year history of our church. To God be the glory.
Now let me share my heart about your 2009 missions giving. We know you will give generously again. You always have. We also realize we are in the worst economic crisis our nation has faced this generation.
Ruth and I remember accepting a pay-cut in Mississippi in the mid-1970s. Since then, God has always abundantly blessed our churches financially. God is blessing Second. Receipts are above expenditures. But our rejoicing is dampened by knowing the economy is beginning to adversely affect many of you.
Listen to your Pastor. In 2009 you need to tithe. I have no right to abrogate God’s direct command, any more than I have the right to excuse you from paying income taxes. In all financial climates, God expects us to tithe.
Second Baptist, in addition to tithes to our budget, receives special offerings designated for missions (WMO) and for buildings (Financially Free). For these latter two, I want us all to be careful. We hope you will give to both as much as you gave in 2008. Most of you, by God’s grace, can do this.
Some of you, though, are struggling. Let me bless you. We want to help, not be part of a burden. Regarding the World Missions Offering and Financially Free, no guilt, no pressure. You pray, weigh your circumstances, and then give what you can happily give.