Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Download MP3 (right click to save)
When my sons were playing high school football, their job was to run their body into other guys' bodies. They were linemen; they blocked. Of course, one of their great rewards for all this body slamming was when they could stop or deflect an opposing lineman – thus opening up a hole through which their teammate could run with the ball. Usually our guys were too busy holding the line to know what was happening down field – like the man who had gone through the hole they made gaining big yardage or even scoring a touchdown. And the good ball carriers knew what they had to do: spot an opening and go through it as fast as they could!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Power of the 3-Open Prayer."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Mark 2:2-4. There are four men here with a friend who needed to get to Jesus. In football terms, they did the job of the ball carrier and the blocker. They looked for an opening to get this friend to Jesus, and they actually created an opening to do it, you might say.
Here's what it says. "So many gathered (to hear Jesus) that there was no room left, not even outside the door. Some men came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven." Well, later Jesus healed him and gave him the power to walk. These four 'find an opening' men not only got their friend to Jesus, but a lot more than they could have ever imagined.
In your life, there is probably someone you would like to get to Jesus; someone who needs what only the Savior can do for them – someone you want to take to heaven with you. The stakes are a lot higher than any football game. We're talking eternity here, life or death. But like a player trying to get to the goal, you have to be determined to find an opening – to look for some natural opportunity to bring up Jesus. Most of us miss those openings because we're not consciously praying for them, looking for them, and hoping for them.
Paul gives us what I call the three-open prayer. You can't be around me too long and not heat it. It's a prayer you should be praying daily about the people you want to bring to Jesus. It's in Colossians 4:3-4, "Pray for us, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should." The three-open prayer, prayed with the name of a lost person you care about, "Lord, please open a door." That's a natural opportunity to tell him or her about You, Jesus. Secondly, "Open their heart." In other words, "Lord make them ready to hear about You." And then, "Open my mouth when You open the door." Good news here, you don't have to add to your prayer, "if it be Your will." It is.
You won't find many openings to just dump your beliefs about Jesus on your friend. What you need to do is to be ready to share the difference Jesus makes in real life for you. That's what they want to know. Not what are all the beliefs, but what does Jesus change? What is the difference He makes? What difference does having a Savior make for you in your lonely times, or your depressing times? How are you different as a parent or a husband or wife? How about when there's not enough money? How does Jesus affect meeting the challenges of being single, in facing tragedy and pain, in times of big decisions? What difference does He make at the funeral home? Those kinds of things come up all the time. Are you ready to tell how Jesus has made the difference for you in times like these? And then to move from that into how the sin-wall comes down so we could have this life-changing relationship with Jesus.
If you've got someone you want to take to heaven with you, pray for an opening to bring up Jesus, look for an opening, or like those determined friends tearing up the roof – make an opening! Then, following the blocking of the Holy Spirit of God, go through that opening with the life-saving news of a relationship with the Son of God.