When the heavens are brass . . .
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Join Franklin Graham on October 4 at the Capitol East Steps for a time of prayer for our nation based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. Buses will be leaving Niles Michigan at 8 a.m. Seating is limited, reserve your seats today.

When the heavens are brass . . .

Part 2 of 2                                                                   Why don't all prayers get answered?


See last month's newsletter for Part 1

Sin in general can impair the believer’s relationship with God, but sins of the tongue are particularly detrimental.  Mankind’s ability to speak is unique and part of what establishes us in the likeness of our Creator.  It also gives us the ability to emulate the ‘father of lies’, Satan.  The Bible has more than four times as many verses about gossip, slander, lying and related sins of the tongue as it has about adultery, stealing or drunkenness, yet we often engage in gossip, slander and speculation without a second thought.  In John 8:44, Jesus associates Satan’s lack of truth and rebellion against truth with murder.  Slanderers and gossips consistently show up in lists of condemned characters, along with idolaters, drunkards, the greedy, people prone to fits of anger or rage, brawlers, murderers, God-haters and rebels.
Psalm 101:5 says God will destroy the slanderer or whisperer of gossip. Romans 1 says backbiters and whisperers are worthy of death, as are the people who listen and approve.
The Bible has more to say about gossip, slander, whispering, backbiting, lying, false accusations and misuse of the tongue than just about any other sin.  This is a big sin that is often overlooked and even socially acceptable in many Christian circles, but it can do serious damage to the relationship and prayer life of the believer.  The Greek word diaballo is translated as slanderer, devil or Satan.  Slanderers emulate Satan! 
If you want your words heard seriously when praying, make sure they align with the words you speak when you aren’t praying.  Life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and the tongue sets the direction of a life (James 3:6), so learn the lesson of the Psalmist in 141:2-3-- May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering. Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Speaking Against God’s Annointed
Pastors are raised by God and He alone appoints them.  There is a line of authority here that doesn’t include the general body of the church.
David understood the lines of authority even before he became king.  After Samuel anointed David to replace Saul as king, David refused to usurp the position or harm Saul; in fact, he swore allegiance to Saul as king even while Saul was trying to kill him.  In 1 Samuel 24:12, David tells Saul May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.”  He recognized that God was in charge of Saul and Saul’s position as king.  However, David’s advisors didn’t see it that way in 1 Samuel 24:4, “The men said, 'This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, "I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish."' David’s response, in opposition to his ‘board of advisors’, is found in verse 6, he “said to his men, 'The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.’  With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul.”
Even when Saul was mortally wounded and pleaded with a foreigner to kill him, David had the young foreigner killed for complying with Saul’s wishes in 2 Samuel 1:14-16: 
David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”
Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died.  For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’ ”
When a leader gets too rich, or has a big mega church/airplane/mansion, or has a personal failure, it’s easy for everyone to talk.  But talk can be very damaging; it can ruin careers, marriages and churches.  In this context, it can also damage new believers and potential believers.   Both 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalms 105:15 say "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm."  That includes talk.  God takes loose talk very seriously, especially when directed against His chosen leader.
Consider Numbers 12 where Moses’ sister Miriam is struck with leprosy for talking negatively about her brother’s leadership.  Romans 14:4 admonishes us, “Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”  James 4:11 puts it like this: “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” 
This is not to say that corrupt or erroneous leaders do not need to be confronted or held accountable. Trust God to send the ‘prophet’ to confront or resolve the issue however He sees fit.  Pray for the board or elders or whoever is charged with picking up the pieces.  If there is err in judgement, let it be on the side of grace.  Let’s join with the prophet Samuel in saying to King Saul after his public failure, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” 1 Samuel 12:23.

Honoring Your Parents
Most people don’t associate the fifth commandment with having prayers answered or even consider violating this a ‘real sin’.  But this command is repeated numerous times in the blessing format:  “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12, Leviticus 19:3, Deuteronomy 5:16, Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 6:1-3. 
However, in Matthew 15:4-6, Jesus combined the blessing with the curse format of Exodus 21:17, Deuteronomy 27:16 and Leviticus 20:9 as an example of people whose hearts were far from God’s. 

"For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’”

Don’t let this one separate your heart from God’s. No matter what kind of parents you may have had, give them the respect God commands, not what you think they deserve.

Robbing God
Imagine asking a favor from someone that you stole from or lied to, and they knew you did it?  That takes more than a little nerve.  But that’s what God says we are doing when we pray for something and yet aren’t faithful with giving tithes and offerings besides.  In fact, He says we are cursed.
Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.  Malachi 3:7-12
But look at the blessing we receive when we are obedient and faithful!  Luke 6:38 says, ”Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
God is faithful, He can’t help it, it is Who HE is. He operates on faith and wants His children to do likewise.  Giving your tithes and offerings in expectation, knowing that He will ‘throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’ is an act of faith.  How can you believe He will answer your prayer if you don’t believe His promise?  Don’t allow this kind of double-mindedness (James 1:7-8) keep you from seeing your prayers answered beyond your expectations!

Upcoming Prayer Event

Franklin Graham's Decision Tour 2016 is coming to Michigan.  Mark your calendar for October 4 at 12 noon in Lansing.  Pray for revival and join your state’s prayer team and Facebook group.  Brainstorm ways to promote the tour in your community to raise awareness of the upcoming prayer rally. Get promotional materials at the volunteer meeting or download them online. Tell friends and family about this statewide movement. Bring them with you to the volunteer meeting. Organize a group and make plans to attend the Decision America Tour prayer rally with Franklin Graham on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016.
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Don't Forget . . .

With all the troubling events taking place, remember Christians that being persecuted around the world and our country's leaders in your prayers. 
Copyright © 2016 Michiana Prayer Group, All rights reserved.

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