Direction & Protection, 17 February 2019

Direction & Protection
Series—Back to Basics
1 Kings 3:5-14; Matthew 6:13, 31-33; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 27:1

Series Big Idea:
Throughout this series, we will look at the mission of FAC, the four prayers I pray for it, and the one thing that makes it so challenging—sin.

Big Idea:
God will guide and protect us if we faithfully seek Him.


If you could have one wish—anything in the world—what would it be? Imagine God asking the question! Thousands of years ago, such a question was asked.

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in the book of 1 Kings.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

That’s it. King David’s son, Solomon, had become king. Though not perfect, Solomon loved the LORD, and so God makes this remarkable statement, grants Solomon’s request, and gives him so much more!

How would you respond if God said to you, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you?”

My name is Kirk and this morning we’re continuing our Back to Basics series, a look at our mission, the Alliance Core Values, and my prayers for First Alliance Church. We began on February 3 with the unveiling of our new mission statement:

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

Our staff and elders are unanimous in their excitement over this new language. We exist not for our glory, but rather God’s. That’s the bottom line of our existence. We’re all about Jesus, we’re a family, and our mission includes not only Toledo but also the ends of the earth. We are masterpieces broken by sin in the process of becoming like Jesus and helping others become disciples or followers of Jesus—mended masterpieces.

One of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Core Value states,

Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple (Matthew 28:19).

In other words, our mission of restoring God’s masterpieces is not something done by professional Christians such as myself. We are all to be engaged in making disciples, in becoming like Jesus and helping others become like Jesus. We’re in this together, family…loving God, loving others, and making disciples.

Last Sunday, we talked about passion and unity, two of my prayers for First Alliance Church. Do you have a passion for God? Prove it! Your checkbook or bank account will show what you truly value. Your calendar, too, will demonstrate whether or not you are passionate about Jesus, about people far from God, about loving and serving others, and about knowing and obeying God.

Another Alliance Core Value states,

Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success (Joshua 1:8).

Today we’re going to look at the other two prayers I pray for First Alliance Church: direction and protection. When I say direction, I’m referring to allowing Jesus Christ, our Senior Pastor, to lead us, to guide us, to teach and instruct us.

We must to always seek God’s direction for ourselves, our families, and First Alliance Church.

God speaks through a variety of ways—nature, circumstances, other believers, dreams, music, prayer—but the primary way He speaks is through His Word, the Bible. He will never contradict what is said in the Bible, which is one of the reasons we say the Bible is our authority. I have a measure of authority as your pastor, but Jesus is our Senior Pastor and God is the ultimate authority. You may not like every decision made by the elders and staff since we all have our own preferences, but if you ever find anything around here being done in violation of God’s Word, please let us know. Of course, we’re not perfect, but we desire to follow Jesus and we know the heart of God primarily through the Bible. As it says in the foyer,

"For the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."

When I pray for direction, I’m both praying for God to both lead us into the proper understanding of the Bible and also for His mission, vision and strategy for this local church. In a word, I pray for wisdom.

Let’s go back to that story of King Solomon.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

Did you think of your response?

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. (1 Kings 3:6)

I love how Solomon doesn’t just say, “Give me lots of money or a hot wife or power” but actually worships God. As he talks with God—something we call prayer—he avoids just asking for stuff. Instead, he begins with worship and thanksgiving.

How do you pray? Do you approach God like a cosmic Santa Clause, or do you really enjoy time with God? One tool I’ve often used for prayer is ACTS:

Supplication (requests)

God says to Solomon, “Ask me for whatever you want” and he begins with adoration and thanksgiving. He continues,

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9)

It is often said that Solomon asked for wisdom, though technically the request was for a heart of understanding, a discerning heart, which is similar. The prayer that I pray most often for myself is wisdom, and one of my four prayers for First Alliance Church is direction or wisdom, for not only myself but also our elders, staff, and leaders. There are several reasons why I seek wisdom from God. The first is that God was pleased with Solomon’s request.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. (1 Kings 3:10-12)

I like to learn lessons from the good and bad choices of others, and since God was pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom in leading, it stands to reason it would please God for me to seek the same.

Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:13-14)

Let me be clear, seeking wisdom does not necessarily lead to wealth and honor. I’m not a king, the date is not around 950 BCE, and God didn’t give me one request. But the extras God gave Solomon just emphasize God’s delight in the request for wisdom.

When Heather and I arrived at First Alliance Church more than three years ago, we knew very little about this city. We knew even less about this church. We came with no agenda, no vision, no strategy…just a clear calling to move to Toledo and serve here. Ever since I began serving as your pastor, I’ve been working with the elders and staff to discern the direction, the next steps, the mission and vision and strategy. An empty baptistry is unacceptable, and simply singing songs and preaching sermons is not enough. Nowhere does Jesus say to plant churches—and I love church planting—or build buildings or start church programs. He said to make disciples.

You see, the Bible never changes, but how it is communicated is constantly changing. I love the example of Billy Graham. He’s best known for his speaking, often using microphones to deliver his sermons, a technology Jesus never had! But he also started a magazine. He wrote books. He delivered the gospel through movies, television, and the Internet. Perhaps you could say the Bible told Graham what to preach, but not how to preach it.

The same is true for First Alliance Church. We must never change the Bible—it is our authority—but how we preach it, how we communicate it must always be changing to connect with an ever-changing world. Without a website, some of you wouldn’t be here today. Without a Facebook page, some of you wouldn’t know about FAC. If it weren’t for this building and the technology of language and the signs outside, you may never have known First Alliance Church existed. At this very moment my words are being recorded for our podcast which can be heard literally around the world.

I don’t know all of the things God has planned for us in the future. We are setting aside funds for church planting. We are praying for God to raise up more International Workers to proclaim Jesus to other people groups. There are emerging technologies which we could use, creative ways to utilize our beautiful campus, and countless opportunities to serve our city and earn the right to be heard as we build relationships with unchurched people. In all of these things we need God’s direction. We need wisdom. We need discernment. Our scripture reading for today is Jesus’ response to worry.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

In other words, seek God’s glory, God’s wisdom, God’s direction, God’s agenda and you can’t go wrong. This doesn’t mean life will always be easy, but you can be confident that where God guides, He provides. Or to quote my favorite passage in the entire Bible,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Family, if you pray one prayer for me, please pray for wisdom. If there’s one prayer for our elders and staff and leaders, please pray for wisdom. We want to be led by Jesus Christ, our Senior Pastor. We need God’s direction for His church.

While we’re on the subject, I might add another one of the core values of the Alliance:

Achieving God’s purposes means taking faith-filled risks. This always involves change (Hebrews 1).

As an entrepreneur, I love this value, but I know it is disturbing to many of you. Change can be very difficult. We never want to change for the sake of change, but we must be willing to change anything and everything for the sake of the mission (which would never violate the Bible since God’s glory is the bottom line of our mission). As Dan Rogers said two weeks ago, our church has been taking faith-filled risks for decades, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to serve a congregation so willing to trust God for great things, obediently following His call and direction.


I pray for passion, unity, direction, …and protection.

We have a very real enemy, family. His name is satan and he has some friends who—like satan—are fallen angels which we call demons. They don’t necessarily run around with horns and a pitchfork, but they are real nonetheless. Anytime you hear about a death, a theft, a divorce, a tragedy, poverty, drug overdose, suicide attempt, shooting, abuse, disrespect, hate, envy, perversion, …you hear about our enemy in action.

Some people are obsessed with spiritual warfare and the cosmic battle between good and evil, God and satan, right and wrong. They look for a demon in every Coke can and seem to blame everything on the devil. Others dismiss our enemy and ignore the reality of our opponent. C.S. Lewis famously wrote,

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an unhealthy interest in them.”

We can pray for God’s protection from our very real enemy.

In fact, we
should pray for God’s protection. When I pray for protection, I think of Jesus’ model prayer for his disciples:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’ (Matthew 6:13)

We don’t have time to do a full examination of spiritual warfare, but I want to acknowledge the reality of it and our need for God’s power. We can’t do ministry apart from God’s power. In fact, we noted several weeks ago,

Without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we can accomplish nothing (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

Furthermore, Paul wrote,

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, ESV)

Lest you think that means God wants to make us rich, famous, and powerful, consider this cartoon from Skye Jethani.

The Bible is packed with passages that affirm God’s power as far superior to those of our enemy. The prophet Isaiah declared,

…no weapon forged against you will prevail, (Isaiah 54:17b)

Earlier, we read,

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1)

The most common command in the Bible is “fear not,” but don’t think for a moment you can attack satan and demons without God’s power. That power is unleashed through prayer. In fact,

Prayer is the primary work of God’s people (Phil. 4:6-7)

I’m so grateful for the men, women and children who pray for First Alliance Church. We have three groups that meet each week—Sunday at 9 AM, Thursday at 7 PM, and men on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM. Many of you pray in your homes, your small groups, and during your personal time with God. Thank you. We need prayer—for passion, unity, direction, and protection. Prayer is truly work. It can be difficult, especially in a world filled with distractions. But without it, we’re just a bunch of broken people trying to change ourselves, our city, and our world with no power…in the face of a real enemy with real power. But with God, he doesn’t stand a chance!

In his book
Seizing Your Divine Moment, pastor Erwin McManus talks about sending his son, Aaron, off to summer camp and wrote,

“Aaron was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn’t going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn’t tell ghost stories because we don’t believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.” That first night home, Aaron asked his dad to stay in the room with him. “Daddy, I’m afraid,” Aaron said. “They told all these stories about demons.” And McManus said he wanted to tell his son, “They’re not real,” but he couldn’t say that. Aaron pleaded, “Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” In that plea, McManus said, he heard a desire for that kind of warm-blanket Christianity that too many people assume is all there is to it. So he said to his son, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” And Aaron said, “Alright. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.”

McManus asks, “Have you come to that place in your own life where you stop asking God to give you a safe existence and start asking him to make you a dangerous follower of Jesus Christ?”

Family, I pray that we would seek God’s direction for ourselves and First Alliance Church, that Jesus would truly be our Senior Pastor, leading us on his mission. I also pray that God would protect us from the evil one who wants to steal, kill, destroy, lie, and divide…and that we would be so dangerous to the agenda of evil—so filled with love and passion—that demons would flee and God would be glorified.

We need not fear satan or demons, but instead become more dangerous.

The first time I spoke at First Alliance Church, I had a four-word outline which some of you remember to this day:

Fear not. Fear God.

We are to fear—or give respect and reverence—to God, but we need not fear anything or anyone. God is in control. There are real battles we face, but we will win the war. The God of angels armies is on our side.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.