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PAUL’S DESIRE AND PRAYER
Victor M. Eskew
A. Paul was a Jew through and through. His credentials prove it (Phil. 3:5).
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.
B. Paul was converted in the city of Damascus after he saw the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19).
C. Paul was extremely zealous for the cause of Christ, but he never lost his love for the people of Israel.
1. On his preaching tours, he always entered into the synagogues first (Acts 13:14; 17:1; 17:10; 18:19; 19:8).
2. In his personal prayers, Israel was always in his heart and on his lips (Rom. 10:1).
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
D. This verse and the two that follow are extremely rich. They are the words of a man who was a true soul-winner.
1. We are going to examine this text in this lesson.
2. Our title is simply: “Paul’s Desire and Prayer.”
I. PAUL’S ASPIRATION
A. The word “aspiration” carries this definition:
1. A strong desire, longing, aim, ambition
2. A goal or objective that is strongly desired
B. Paul begins by saying: “My heart’s desire…”
1. This longing was locked deep in the intellect, reasoning, will, and emotions of the apostle.
2. It was not a mere wish. It was a passion, a yearning, a deep thirst with the apostle’s mind.
C. Desire is the key to most things are accomplished in life.
1. Two quotes:
a. Napoleon Hill: “To achieve anything you need a burning desire.”
b. “If it can be desired; it can be acquired.”
a. Star athletes have risen from poverty and hardship because of desire.
b. Youth have risen from dysfunctional families and abuse to become doctors, lawyers, and great citizens because of desire.
c. People have started with pennies and built mega-companies because of their desire.
D. Every congregation of the Lord’s people must develop a desire for lost souls.
1. We are not talking about a mere wish.
2. We are talking about a passion, a yearning, and a frenzy for the lost.
II. PAUL’S APPEAL
A. Paul’s desire did not stop in his mind. He expressed his desire to the God of heaven.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God…
B. Paul was definitely a man of prayer.
1. He prayed often and taught others to do so (Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2; I Thess. 5:17).
2. He asked others to pray for him (Rom. 15:30; II Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:19-20; Phil. 1:19; Col. 4:3; I Thess. 5:25; II Thess. 3:1).
C. Paul knew that in some way God could assist him with the desires of his heart.
1. God could open doors.
2. God could grant opportunities to preach.
3. God could create circumstances that would cause men to listen to the gospel.
D. In his soul-winning efforts, there was power in prayer (Ps. 145:19).
He will hear the desire of them that fear him…
III. PAUL’S ANCESTORS
A. “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is...”
B. The Jews were Paul’s blood-kin through Abraham.
C. NOTICE: This was a specific prayer for a specific group of people. We, too, should pray for specific people: family friends, acquaintances, political leaders, etc.
D. This type of prayer is an intercessory prayer.
1. Jesus prayed such a prayer for Peter (Luke 22:31-32).
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
2. Jesus prayed for all of His apostles in His high priestly prayer (John 17:9).
3. He also prayed for all of us (John 17:20).
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.
IV. PAUL’S AIM
A. “…that they might be saved.”
B. We pray for many things for others.
1. To find direction for their lives
2. To overcome difficulties in their lives
3. To be healed of sicknesses and diseases
C. This is no more significant desire that we could have for others than that they might be saved.
1. This is the desire of God (I Tim. 2:4).
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2. Paul desired Israel’s salvation deeply (Rom. 9:2-3).
That I have great heaviness and continual sorry in my heart: for I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
D. Every night you and I need to pray earnestly for the salvation of all the lost.
V. PAUL’S ANGUISH
A. Paul knew that his prayer would be a difficult one.
1. Not because God did not have the power to save.
2. It was because of the situation of the Jews themselves.
B. Paul knew them. He writes: “For I bear them record…” Here, he sets forth four barriers of the Jews’ salvation (Rom. 10:2-3).
1. They have drive without knowledge.
…they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
a. The Jews had a fire within for God.
1) They were the people of God in the past.
2) They were children of Abraham.
3) They had received the covenant of circumcision.
4) They had been given the Law of Moses.
5) They were God’s chosen.
b. They, however, did not have the knowledge they needed.
1) The knowledge they needed was in the Christ and the New Testament.
2) Instead of accepting them, they rejected them and held tightly to the Mosaic Law and the traditions of the elders.
c. Lesson: We see many like this today.
1) They have zeal. Some have more zeal than Christians do.
2) Their zeal is not based on a knowledge of God’s Word.
3) Their zeal is based upon the traditions of men and their own personal beliefs.
2. They are in darkness.
For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness…
a. Ignorance has been and will always be dangerous (Hos. 4:6).
b. The Jews were ignorant of the plan whereby God makes man righteous in the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17).
c. Their ignorance caused them to remain in a lost condition before God.
d. So many people still fall into this category. As you speak to them about the salvation process, they demonstrate their ignorance of what God would have them to do to be saved.
3. They are diligent in their error.
…and going about to establish their own righteousness…
a. So many people believe that God will allow them to be saved by any method they desire.
1) The Jews thought that God would save them by keeping the Law of Moses.
2) Many feel that they can be saved by the creeds and traditions of men.
a) Salvation by faith only.
b) Salvation by praying the sinner’s prayer.
3) Many feel that they can be saved by their own plans of prayer and goodness.
b. These people are diligent and many are very sincere.
c. They fail to understand that God’s plan is not the same as the plans of men.
4. They are deficient.
…have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
a. Trying to save themselves in their own way keeps them from submitting to God’s plan of righteousness.
b. Paul was like this for several years of his life.
1) He rebelled against God.
2) He rejected the Christ.
3) He sought to destroy the church.
4) He killed Christians and put others in prison.
c. There is only one plan that God has to make men righteous.
1) It involves initial obedience to the gospel (Acts 2:37-41).
2) It involves holy, godly, sober, and righteous living (Tit. 2:11-12; Rev. 2:10).
A. Paul was a Jew and he loved the Jews that were lost and desired their salvation.
B. We are humans and we should love all humans, even those who are lost, and desire their salvation.
C. We need to DESIRE their salvation. We need to PRAY for their salvation. We need to WORK for their salvation just as Paul did for the salvation of the Jews.