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The Upper Room

Scripture: Psalms 91:1-9, Joshua 2:1-16
Date: 07/17/2004 
This sermon gives you a tour of "upper rooms" in the Bible. There is a pattern in the Scriptures of such rooms. These rooms are synonymous with prayer. The two men who hid on the roof of Rahab's home represents our hiding in Christ and making a covenant with the Lord.
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“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” --Matthew 6:5-8

Happy Sabbath. Mike, Reagan, why don’t you come up with the family real quick. Come here. They didn’t know I was going to do this. A lot of us of course here at Central family are acquainted with Pastor Mike Contes and Reagan. He first came her oh, I don’t know, what? Four or five years ago? Six years ago? How many? Six? Six years ago. They were devout Greek Orthodox and Mike accepted the message and got excited and wanted to convert the world and went to… became a pastor, has been pastoring Shingle Springs and Rancho Cordova. Did a couple of evangelistic meetings and they’re preparing to go now to Andrews University. When do you leave? No, don’t give a microphone to him. I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid! Mike and Reagan are preparing to go to Andrews University in the final phase of their education and I just wanted to have, I know we’ve had a baptism which has been beautiful and a baby dedication and I just wanted to add one more prayer if you would join me in just bowing your heads and asking God to dedicate them. It’s very, it’s quite a traumatic thing when you uproot your family. Mike quit his job at UPS years ago and Reagan has recently quit with Duracell after how many years? Fourteen years. And to go and to live on a missionary’s salary at a university is real commitment. So I want you to just pray for them that God will be with them and bless them. And the scripture I’ll share with you is to study to show yourself approved under God. You too. Why don’t we kneel together and let’s just pray for this family. You just bow your heads if you would.

Father in heaven, we’re just so thankful for the evidence that we’ve seen of your Spirit working in the Contes family and we pray that you’ll continue to give additional grace to Mike and Reagan and the children and give them your Spirit. Sustain them now as they travel. Keep them safe and I pray that you’ll fill them with your Spirit so that even while they’re at this place to expand their learning they can be witnesses for you and then I pray that you’ll sharpen and increase Mike’s skills in a special way and Reagan so that you will prepare them to enhance your kingdom and to expand their ministry. We commit them to you and we pray, Lord, that you will bless them. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thank you so much. For me one of the great thrills is not only being able to see people come to the Lord, but when you see them come to the Lord and then get involved in ministry. Matter of fact, I think we have a number of new AFCOE students who are just starting the new program. Are any of you here today? Let me see your hands if you’re part of the new AFCOE class. I know we’ve got some. They’re usually on the front row. Those are your A students. We’re so glad that we’re getting ready to launch a new Amazing Facts College of Evangelism. I think Mike went to the two week program of AFCOE as well. And to see these people come to the Lord and go into evangelism. Oh, it’s such a thrill. That’s one way to really multiply the kingdom.

You know I’ve been doing a study in the Bible over a period of years and sometimes you read the Bible things pop up and you think, “I’m going to store that on a shelf. I might use that someday.” And then it keeps popping up and you find a little more. Well there’s a certain truth that has percolated in my mind to the point where I thought I’d just share these things with you. I never actually preached on this specific theme. And the title would be “The Upper Room.” The Upper Room. Now just about a week ago I was in Toronto, Canada again. I actually spoke at the Oshua Camp Meeting there. It’s really exciting. About ten thousand people the last Sabbath and to be able to see that group and preach to them. And I drove by Toronto where you can see the skyline of the CN Tower. It is the tallest building in the world. I think I wrote down somewhere, yeah, one thousand eight hundred and fifteen feet tall. And you can walk when you’re up in that sky-pod that’s at the top. It just dominates the skyline there in Canada. There’s a restaurant up at the top. And you can also see there’s a big dome there. That’s the Sky Dome where their baseball team plays and the General Conference Session was there 2000, the year 2000. I remember it was just about this time of year four years ago because Karen had her birthday while we were there and I took her to the top of the CN Tower and you know they basically they built it to be a TV antenna. They had to build something to get up above the skyline to broadcast and so they built this. It’s one of the wonders if the modern world how they built it. Up at the top there’s a restaurant that can seat four hundred people. And they’ve got of course a sky pod where you walk around on glass. It’s kind of creepy. You walk around on glass. Any of you been there? Oh yeah, I see a few hands. You walk around on glass and you look you’re standing on glass and looking down you know what eighteen hundred feet. Kinda weird. It reminds me of flying with Glenn in his helicopter there’s a bunch of glass down there as you’re looking down. But it’s very exciting because it’s, something about, it’s inspirational being in that upper room. And then that very same week and I’ve already told you this story. People all over the Sky Dome there’s a hotel connected with it and the Sky Dome is this you know big auditorium that seats fifty-thousand people in Toronto and I went to the bell captain. I was trying to get a nice room because Karen was going to join me and it was her birthday and I thought, “I’ll surprise her. See if I can get a nice room.” And just while I was waiting for the bell captain someone came up to me and they said, “Oh, Pastor Doug, we sure like your TV programs.” And then they walked away. And this guy looks at me. He’s not the bell captain. He’s the clerk there checking us in, the manager, and he said, “Oh, you’ve got a TV program?” I said, “Yes.” I was trying to look humble, “Yes.” And he said, “Really?” and I said, “You know, I wanted to know if you could help me get a room.” They had some rooms that actually faced the arena. “And is there any way you could get a room?” I said, “My wife’s coming. It’s her birthday.” He said, “Let me see what I can do,” and then he hands me a key, says, “I hope this will work.” And so I said, “Thank you very much.” And I just thought maybe I got a room that faced the arena. There is one room in the middle of the arena at the top that is like the Sky Room that the owners go to when the team plays and because there was no season they gave us the main room that overlooked the stadium. It was so exciting to have this upper room there and it was the same price! That’s what made it really good for me. It was the same price as all the other rooms and I can’t, I, you know it was really hard to avoid. You walk out on your balcony and there is fifty thousand Seventh Day Adventists that are gathered there for the General Conference session and I kept wanting to go like this. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I saw all these people and I thought, “Wow!” Well, you know there was something inspirational. What’s that? Oh yeah. And then we took our towels and we waved them around and waved to everybody and it was funny it was right above the stage. But when I think about the subject of the Upper Room and having just been there in Canada again last week I think about eating there at the tallest building in the world and having that hotel room. I’ll never forget that. Matter of fact, after that week I said, “Dear, it’s only downhill from here.” I said, “This was really exciting.” We had John Lomercang and all our friends came to our room there and we were able to celebrate that upper room experience. And to be able to look out on the Seventh Day Adventist leadership from the world gathered and to see all that was happening, oh, it was inspirational. Now when I read in the Bible, I would like to take you on a tour of upper rooms today. Some people drive through neighborhoods and they are looking at kitchens. Others want to see how folks have decorated their bedrooms or their living rooms or their family rooms and backyards and I want to take you through the Bible and we’re going to sort of take a tour of upper rooms today because I see a pattern through the Bible where these upper rooms continue to appear. To begin with you might be surprised. Let me go to Psalm 91 and this is one that you would do well to memorize. I used to have it memorized. I can’t do it any more. Verse one, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ He will surely deliver you from the snare of the fowler from the perilous pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will take refuge; His truth will be your shield and buckler. You’ll not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. Only with your eyes will you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, there will no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling…” All of these promises of protection and God’s abiding presence spring from the first verse. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High…” You heard in the memory verse where he talked about entering into your closet. I’ll submit to you at the very beginning I think these upper rooms in the Bible are synonymous with prayer. Do you have an upper room? Are you afraid of heights? You know man sometimes climbs mountains and you ask, “Why?” They say, “Because it’s there,” but I think inherently we have this desire to be closer to God and God also often does things from the mountain tops. And it’s sort of, you know, here we are sequestered on earth because of our disease of sin. It’s like our effort to draw near to God, this upper room. And I’d like to take a little tour with you at some of the upper rooms in the Bible and some of the rooftop experiences because I think you’ll find they all have lessons for us in prayer and what we can expect because of that upper room experience.

You know the first thing I notice is, go to the book of Joshua, chapter two. Joshua, chapter two, and it tells the story of Rahab. Now I did a whole sermon on this once, but I want to focus on one point here. Joshua chapter two and I’ll start with the first verse. The children of Israel are ready to cross over into the Promised Land and “Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from the Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and they came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.” And I know that always sounds strange but it was not part of their business trip. They used to operate the hotels, the inns. “So the king of Jericho…” I’m sorry, “And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.’” King of Jericho represents the devil. Joshua represents Jesus. “So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered into your house, for they have come to search out the country.’ Then the woman took the two men she hid them. And said, ‘Yes, when the men came to me, I don’t know where they were from. And it happened when the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. And where they went I don’t know; pursue them quickly, maybe you’ll overtake them.’ (But she’d brought them up to the roof and had hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)” And I’m going to quickly summarize the story for you. She knew that the God of Israel was the true God. From her window on her wall she could look out and see the children of Israel gather bread that was falling miraculously every morning. She saw the Shekhinah Glory hovering above their camp at night glowing. She knew their God was a real God so she hid the two messengers in her upper room; she made a covenant with them that she would save their lives and protect them if they would have mercy on her when Joshua came. Joshua was coming to destroy the city. Jesus is coming soon and he’s going to demolish this wicked world. Only those who are hidden in the upper room will be spared. Now there on the roof they made a covenant with Rahab and the sign of the covenant was a red rope hanging from her upper room on the wall. That red rope represents that Passover blood that was in the door. It represents the blood of Christ and because she received the two messengers everybody in her upper room would be saved when Joshua came. In the same way, only those who receive God’s two messengers… you know who the two messengers are? The Law and the Prophets, the word of God, that two edged sword. In the temple, in the sanctuary was a table with two stacks of bread. That bread is the bread of life, it’s the word of God. The word of God is dual. It’s the two witnesses, the two olive trees, the two lamps in Revelation chapter 11. That dual picture of those two messengers that she hides saves her. “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” And so in the upper room she makes a covenant of salvation with them. When Joshua came only those that were in the upper room with Rahab were saved. They said, “Everybody that is with you in the room.” I’m going to submit to you now the upper room represents prayer. Only those who are in the upper room when Joshua comes will be spared, that upper room with that red rope in the window. We need to make a blood covenant with Jesus, right? And those are the ones that are going to be saved when the judgment comes. That upper room is a prayer life. Do you have an upper room? We need to have that kind of experience.

Now I’m going to, there’s a lot I could say about each of these stories, but I have a parade of examples and I need to keep on moving. The next one would be the story of Elijah. I’m going to talk about both Elijah and Elisha. During the time of famine Elijah is finally sent to stay with a widow who has a son and she evidently gives him a room in the roof somewhere. As you read on it makes that clear. And her boy dies. And Elijah brings the boy up and lays him on his bed in his upper room and he prays that the boy will be raised. But nothing happens the first time. Now keep in mind when Elijah is praying this prayer, you and I now know looking back that God can work miracles like raising the dead. We’ve got lots of examples. How many resurrections from the dead had taken place when Elijah was praying this prayer? Well, Moses was raised, but nobody knew that back then. None. There was no biblical example of a resurrection yet. Can you see why that would take a lot of faith? Elijah had a lot of faith. He prayed and it didn’t rain. He prayed and fire came down. So he’s now praying that God is going to raise this boy back to life and it had never happened before. Prays once, nothing happens. Walks around and meditates and then goes back to the upper room and he prays again, nothing happens. And the Bible says, “He stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord and the Lord heard the voice of Elijah. And he said, ‘Lord, God, bring the soul of this child back into him,’ and the Lord heard his voice and the boy came back to life.” and the Bible says, I’m in I Kings 17:22, I’m sorry, I didn’t give you the verse. I Kings 17:22 and 23, “The Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came back to him and he revived and Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room.” There I rest my case. Where did this happen? It was in the upper room. “…into the house and gave him to his mother and Elijah said, ‘See your son lives.’” Now I’ll submit to you that the mother represents the church and this woman that Elijah was staying with was not a Jewish woman. She was a Canaanite woman. Even Jesus referred to this when he began his ministry. And this boy that was raised in the upper room and given to the Canaanite woman is a symbol how it is in the upper room that Christ comes to life for the church. It is in prayer that it happens and then he is delivered to the mother. Notice about Elijah’s prayer the upper room, new life, happens as a result of persistent prayer. It’s not enough to have an upper room. We need to know how to persist in prayer with God. Somebody said, “Do not expect a thousand dollar answer for a ten cent prayer.” Sometimes we’re expecting heaven and earth to move and our prayers are shallow and actually sometimes it’s almost an insult to God we’re praying for something magnificent and we’re very irreverent and flippant in the way that we give it to the Lord and we see a lot of that today especially some of the ministries that teach the “Name it and claim it” theology. They’re almost trite with the Almighty. We should pray reverently but it should be done persistently. Jesus tells in Luke 18, verse 1 about a widow who is mistreated by a judge and in this parable she pleads with the judge for justice but he’s too busy because she can’t bribe him. He’s an unjust judge. But she keeps coming and she keeps coming and she keeps coming and finally he says, “Look, I’m going to have to help her because she’s wearing me down.” And so the Lord says, Jesus then ties off the parable by saying, “If that unjust judge is going to finally listen to that persistent woman, how much more will your Father in heaven listen to those who cry unto him day and night?” And so the upper room is a place where you should be relentless in your prayers. There should be a persistence there. Jeremiah 29:12 & 13, this is what I typically sign as a scripture in books. “Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me and I will listen to you and you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” But why is this kind of prayer important? Is it because it brings God down to us? Or does prayer really bring us up to God? It elevates us. And so why does God make us persist in prayer? Every time you dig a little deeper in that upper room in your prayers you’re going up a little higher. It’s elevating you to God and then you of course appreciate the answers more when they come.

The next example would be Elisha. There are so many strange parallels between the life of Elijah and his apprentice Elisha. Elisha also stayed with a woman. She had a husband but they had no children. Now just to give you the context of the story; the Bible says that Elisha would make this circuit on a regular basis and he would visit the different schools of the sons of the prophet to teach, to encourage them, to judge the people. He was the prophet in Israel. And whenever he came by this one home where there was a very wealthy family, a Shunammite woman, she was sort of the matriarch of the area; she invited him to stay with her and her husband. And she told her husband, “You know, I know this is a man of God.” I mean Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He just exuded the Spirit of God. She said, “We want him to stay here. We want him to make it to point to use this as a permanent regular rest stop. Let’s prepare a place for him. Let’s build a room for him on the roof and let’s prepare it, make a cozy bed, we’ll put a table, we’ll put a lamp.” It was a little bit Spartan like Motel 6, but it was comfortable, right? And she said, “We’ll put a chair in there.” They prepared an upper room so this man of God would come to them. Someone said that “the time for prayer is not found it’s made.” Sometimes we have not had an upper room experience because we have not made the time. She and her husband put the effort in. They actually got contractors and built the room for this fellow that just maybe stopped by once every couple of weeks. And evidently she used to go to church when Elisha preached too because when he did come when she did come to visit him at his place he said, “It’s not the Sabbath. What are you doing here?” And so she must’ve also come before the Lord to worship during that time. But they made this upper room and they prepared it. Now Elisha was so moved when he finally the first time you know they cut the ribbon and showed him this room that she’d prepared and he said to his assistant I guess that he, Gehazi the assistant of Elisha translated for him because they spoke different languages. He said, “This is such a nice thing. Is there anything we can do for her? I’d like to pray that God would bless her.” And he said, “Well, I don’t know.” He said, “Well, I have noticed that they’re getting up there in years and she hasn’t any offspring, no child.” He said, “That’s it!” and he goes to the woman and he says, “This time next year you’re going to embrace a son.” “Oh, man of God, don’t tease me. That would be too good to be true. Don’t tell me that.” Well, she had a baby and she was thrilled and I guess for years on his regular circuit he'd be in that upper room she’d hear him up there praying and maybe bring him a little food and a lamp was burning at night and probably glowing with angels that visited. But then one day while Elisha was gone the boy was out in the field working with his father and we don’t know what happened. The boy just cried out, “My head! My head!” and he had sunstroke or meningitis or something happened. They rushed him back to his mother and he died in her arms. She’s devastated. She goes to Elisha and says, “Why did you give me a son just to take him away at these precious years?” And he eventually comes to her home where the boy is now laying on his bed in the upper room. Is a really interesting she didn’t lay the boy on the boy’s bed? She took the boy up to the upper room and laid him on Elisha’s bed and it was like claiming the promise of God and finally Elisha goes up to the upper room. “And he went into the house…” I’m in 2nd Kings 4:32. “Elisha came into the house, and there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went and therefore, and he shut the door behind the two of them,” him and the boy, “and he prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child…” He stretched himself across the child like Elijah had done except it says here he “put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.” Almost sounds like artificial resuscitation but it really has a spiritual significance. It’s almost like Elisha is transferring his very vital force through his eyes and his mouth and his hands. In the Bible that’s a symbol of his spiritual discernment; the words of life, the deeds, the works. He’s transferring himself. He’s giving his life to this child. And you know I wondered. Elisha had twice the spirit of Elijah, double portion. Elijah went to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elisha died of sickness. You almost wonder if he just actually sacrificed a piece of himself to bring that child back in his prayers. And I’m not making any theology here. I’m just telling you stuff that goes through my mind. Don’t build a doctrine on that okay? “…and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.” He actually emitted his warmth to the child. “And he returned and walked back and forth in the house,” he went downstairs, “and again he went up” to the upper room “and he stretched himself” again “out on the child” praying, probably prayed the same prayer as Elijah, and “the child sneezed seven times.” Now you know they say sometimes a body will twitch even after they’re dead. You hear all these creepy stories about bodies in morgues and things that happen. They don’t sneeze. They don’t sneeze seven times. It takes a lot of energy to sneeze. Matter of fact, it’s hard to stop one. And seven times, you know the Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her. A sneeze is usually the body’s way of evicting some disturbance, some dust or something that you’ve inhaled. And it’s almost like whatever it was that made this child sick was evicted and he suddenly sat up and he was in perfect soundness and health. He was raised in the upper room, new life. Now that upper room… Was that woman glad that she made an upper room? First of all, she received a promised son who represents who? Any time you look in the Bible and boy is resurrected who does he represent? A type of Christ. And she received him after she made the room she had the promised son. Would you like to have that new life of the Son? You need to have an upper room. And if you ever lose that experience sometimes you have felt, you know, “Jesus is dead. I can’t find him anymore. Where has he gone? I don’t have that relationship, that love anymore.” Where was it found again? Back in the upper room. And so if you have lost that new life of that promised son that’s Christ you’re going to find him again in the upper room. Are you afraid of heights? Do you have an upper room?

Next we’re going to go to Daniel. I almost used this as my scripture reading. Oh what a great hero in the Bible. It tells us that the king made a law that if anybody was caught praying, this is Daniel chapter six, anybody caught praying to anybody but King Darius for 30 days he was going to the lion’s den. It was a death penalty. Daniel knew about this law and everybody knew that the Daniel opened his windows towards Jerusalem and he prayed three times a day. And the Bible says, Daniel 6:10, after this law was effected “when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And” he went into his what? “…upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem…” Now you know Solomon had said when they built the temple that if they would pray towards the temple, towards Jerusalem, that God in heaven would hear. When you and I pray do we still pray towards Jerusalem? You know the Muslims pray towards Mecca. We do pray towards Jerusalem, but it’s not the old Jerusalem, do we? We’re looking for the New Jerusalem. We pray “Our Father which art in heaven.” And so like Daniel we need to go to our upper room and pray towards Jerusalem. “With his windows open” that means he wasn’t hiding it. And “he knelt on his knees.” You’ll notice that in many of these stories in the upper room there is even a physical posture of prayer. “He knelt down on his knees,” with his windows open, “three times a day, and he prayed and gave thanks before his God, as his custom was.” You can see that one reason God did great things for Daniel… do you know the story or do I need to tell you the whole thing? Daniel is thrown in the lions’ den and he is saved from the lion’s den. He comes out alive. Do you know why? Daniel is delivered from the lions because of what happens in the upper room. The Bible tells us that the devil is going around “like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.” How many of you are harassed by the devil, by that lion every now and then? We’re all tempted. Victory over the lions happens in the upper room, and it’s not just once or twice. The Bible says “three times a day,” and you wonder if Daniel had read that verse in Psalm 55:17 where King David said, “Evening, morning and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud, and He will hear my voice.” And he’d pray there with his windows open and you wonder what his actual view was when he prayed. He probably had a good view. I mean, what was Daniel’s office during that time? He had just been promoted to prime minister of the Mede-Persian kingdom. I’m expecting he had some good real estate and from his window he could see a lot of God’s creation, maybe even some of the city he was praying for and the people. And there probably was an inspirational view. For one thing we know the people could see him in his upper room because they caught him praying and they turned him in to the King. You probably get nauseated hearing me talk about it, but we have a nice place in Covelo. Have I mentioned that? We have a cabin up in the hills. It’s two story, but the only thing upstairs is Karen and my bedroom, we have a little deck outside the bedroom and I think we always think about going out there sleeping but we’ve only done it once. I’ve got my office up there and I’ve got to tell you it’s a nice view. And in the morning the first thing I do is I go downstairs and I get a cup of hot water and I go upstairs and I sit there at my desk and my desk is facing this window and I’m looking out and there is something inspirational about it because you’re looking out at God’s creation. You know in your upper room it’s a good idea to be thinking about the things that God made if you can. Keep in mind when I say upper room you all don’t have to sell your houses and get a two story house. Upper room is just, I mean, you might have your upper room in a basement. Jesus said, “Enter into your closet. He that abides in the secret place…” Upper room is a figurative term. You don’t have to have a two story house. I’m not more holy than you because we have two stories. It’s figurative of trying to get a place where you get closer to God. Some people their upper room is a place out in the woods. You might not even own it. It might be a little spot off a trail where you can think about God, but it’s a place of regular prayer. You notice what we see about Daniel? Even though his life was on the line and he was going to die he was still going to pray his regular times. What do you allow to interfere with your regular time with God? Can it take a little distraction a little disturbance and it will interfere with your appointments with God? Are you going to say, “Oh, but you know, I’m busy.” Are you busier than the prime minister of the Mede-Persian Empire? Hundred and twenty-seven provinces? Daniel was busy. He made time for God and he would not let anything interrupt those appointments with God even if it meant he would die he was going to go back up there and he was going to pray to God. That’s the kind of commitment we need to have to get into those upper rooms those places of prayer, and if we have that kind of commitment then if we end up in the lion’s den God will shut the lion’s mouth. He won’t be able to hurt you because you’ve got that commitment about your relationship with God. Now in our family we generally have morning prayer, evening prayer; we don’t always have a midday prayer because we’re not all together but you can do it on your own. I think you should, on your own, make it a point. All these watches, you all set your watches to beep at twelve. I hear them go off to remind me that it’s time. You could set your watch for twelve o’clock every day and beep and someone will say, “What’s that mean?” And you’d say, “I’m going to pray.” Wouldn’t that be easy? Have your morning prayer and then your Casio can remind you have your midday prayer and then have your evening prayer. Do you think that those of us who are living in the last days need less commitment than Daniel? Maybe we need more. There are going to be lions out there for us too. Dwight L. Moody said, “Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything.” Not only did Daniel get on his knees and pray it says “and he thanked God.” Our upper room ought to be a place of thanks too for whatever comes.

Next we’re going to go to the New Testament. Another, well it’s not so much an upper room as a rooftop experience. Mark 2:3 and if you turn in your New Testaments this is one of the first major miracles that Jesus performs in the Gospels. I’ll start with verse one. “And He entered into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so there was no longer room to receive them, no, not even near the door And He preached the word to them.” Whenever Christ got a crowd he preached the word and you have to wonder did Jesus preach the word because there was a crowd or was there a crowd because he preached the word? I think it might be a little of both. People are hungry for the word. If you preach the word you’ll have a crowd. “Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. And when they had let him down…” Now we don’t know exactly what this particular design was of this home, but it was typical in Bible times that the homes all had a roof that you could go up on. It was very common for them to go up on the roof to cool off. I know when I was in Madras, India and it was very hot there in many of the homes after noon the people went out on the roof and they actually had like a straw awning. On the roof there’d be a hole with a little staircase, sometimes just a hole where the smoke would come out, but there was some way to get from the roof into the house and up on the roof there was a straw awning and you could get a little bit of the afternoon breeze because the heat was absolutely balmy and suffocating in those climates that time of year. They tried to get their friend to Jesus and they could not get their friend to Jesus until they got up into the upper room. You have some loved ones and friends that you would like to find Jesus. You know you have to get past the crowd and get on the roof, don’t you? It’s through that upper room that you get access to Jesus. Now what was the result of this? The Bible says that they got their friend, they brought him up on the roof, they let him down through this opening that I don’t think that like firemen took axes to the roof. That wouldn’t have been very nice to do to the house. It probably was Peter’s house. Bible says Peter had a house in Capernaum and Jesus often preached there. They probably let him down through the natural opening whether it was just a smoke opening or whether it was a stairs and they interrupted Christ preaching which really irritated some of the religious leaders that were listening. They thought, “This is disrespectful!” But Jesus of their faith and he was pleased and he said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” Now here’s my simple analogy: we have loved ones and friends that we want to find forgiveness, amen? It happens in the upper room. After they brought this man to Christ they had to get past the crowd into the upper room directly into the presence of Jesus. That’s when he found forgiveness. That’s when he found healing. He couldn’t propel himself on his own. He was crippled by sin and after They went up in the upper room and they brought him into the presence of Jesus he was forgiven he was healed and he could carry his bed instead of his bed carrying him. This kind of upper room miracle happens in the times of prayer and we have to make those times and we have to get past the crowd.

Then we go to probably one of the most famous upper room experiences Mark 14:15-16. Jesus told the disciples one of the last things he did was he met with them in the upper room and in that upper room he provided water for cleansing, wine for a covenant and bread for feeding. The water the wine and the bread were in the upper room and I’ll get to that in just a moment. Jesus said that this man you’re going to see he’ll “show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared.” Remember what I said earlier? That upper room needs to be a place that’s prepared. You need to prepare it for that time with God. It’ll be “‘furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.’ So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just like He said; and they prepared the Passover.” Now what happened in that upper room with Jesus? Not only did he institute… of course he taught them there. There’s teaching in the upper room. Not only is prayer you’re talking to Jesus, but he will talk to you in your upper room. It’s not only talking at God but you know the best prayer is when you’re quiet before the Lord, you’re still before God and you hear him speak to your heart. Many times when I’m praying you know I’m inclined, our natural inclination is to talk, hope that God’s listening and when we’re done talking we get up. Sometimes when I’m on my knees and I’m praying my mind wanders and God actually brings things to my remembrance you think it’s just mind wandering, don’t miss my point. Your mind sometimes does wander ridiculous, useless places when you’re praying and you need to bring it back. But sometimes God speaks to you in what might first look like a mind wandering experience and he’s reminding you of someone you need to call something you need to do and he’ll talk to you, he’ll speak to your heart and tell you things you need to pray about. But part of being in the upper room is being still and letting the Lord talk to you. That’s meditation. Prayer is not always talking at God, it’s not only shoving our list at the Lord, it’s listening to God. And there in that upper room Jesus made a covenant with them. He gave them some council and warning. He said, “You’ve got to be on your guard. You’re prone to temptation. You may deny me. You may forsake me.” And he told them that they should be praying that they enter not into temptation. He gave them bread. God feeds us in the upper room. He gave them wine. It’s there we renew our cleansing with the blood of Christ, that’s what that wine is a symbol of. And then he got on his knees and he washed their feet. That’s another kind of cleansing, isn’t it? All this happened where? We can’t miss the point that just before Jesus died there was this upper room experience and we need to renew that in our personal devotions. He gave them drink, he gave them food, and he washed them.

Now we go to the book of Acts, probably the second most famous upper room experience, Acts 1:13-14, “And when they entered” into Jerusalem. Jesus told them to wait there for power. They went “into the upper room where they were staying…” and then it lists the apostles. “And these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” What are they doing in this upper room? They’re not only praying but you notice that they’re praying corporately. The upper room is not only what happens in your personal devotions like Daniel, but we can have an upper room right here when we kneel for prayer, can’t we? The upper room is also something that happens corporately. Then you go to chapter two, verse one; we’re still at the Pentecost upper room. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all in one accord.” You notice it says that they were continuing in prayer. They continued in prayer until what happened? They were in one accord. Had they been in one accord prior to that? What was the attitude of the disciples when they were with Jesus in the upper room? They weren’t always listening to Christ because they were wondering which of them was the greatest. There was strife, jealousy, division, striving for preeminence. How do you resolve strife in the family? We need to spend time in the upper room together. You notice after they had spent time in an upper room together it says they were in one accord, unity, and one place; then the power came. The Bible tells us, you read on, Acts 2, “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, of fire, and one sat upon each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke with new languages.” God gave them the power. Where did it happen? In the upper room. Not only does he give us victory over sin like the paralytic, he gives us power to witness in the upper room. It’s there that we find the unity. Why is that important for witnessing? Well Jesus said, “All men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” If people will know we are Christians by our unity the devil knows that through dividing us it’s a bad witness. How many hear Christians from different denominations fighting and warring each other and the pagans mock that. They say, “Ah, they say they love each other. Jesus is love. They’re killing each other.” And so if by our division it’s a bad witness, by our unity people know that we are his disciples. “Where two or three are gathered in My name…” it becomes an upper room “…I am there.” Acts 4:31, again they’re praying in probably the same upper room. Oh, I love hearing the rustle of your Bibles. “…where they were assembled together and the place was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Now these other upper room experiences are leading to this power in the church and they’re proclaiming the word of God. What was happening? They prayed in the upper room. <> …it’s poured out.

Now I’m going to, I’m not doing everything sequentially, but I want to take you now to Acts 9 and we’ve got Dorcas. The word dorcas, incidentally is a word that means antelope or gazelle. It’s talking about a very rapid creature. Someone gave me an amazing fact this week I was not aware of. What’s the fastest land animal in the world? Cheetah, that’s correct. How fast? 70 miles an hour. What is the second fastest? It’s the American antelope. It’s this little stub-horned antelope and it can run just about 70 miles an hour and it can run longer than the cheetah. Most people don’t know that. They’re very fast. That’s how they get away from the cheetahs. Of course we don’t have cheetahs here. Dorcas was a woman who was just always busy; she was helping everybody and rip-snorting around and sewing and cooking and feeding and calling and visiting and healing and then she got sick and died, and she was the church dynamo. And you know every church, praise God, most churches have a Dorcas. They all need more of them, but we’ve got a person, you know, that you can always turn to them. They’re always too busy but they always do things. And it was devastating. And they called for Peter. Maybe they hoped Peter could do what had happened with Jesus. And as Peter comes into the house they’ve washed Dorcas and they put her in an upper room. And “in those days,” I’m in Acts 9:37, “…she became sick and died. When they have washed her, they laid her in an upper room.” And Peter, they called for Peter and he comes from Joppa, and they show him all the little clothes and the little things that she’s done for them and cooked for them and made for them, and they’re all weeping and it’s just a pitiful scene. They say, “Oh, we needed her. She was young! Why’d this happen?” So Peter goes up into the room where she is and he kneels down and he prays. And he turns to the body and he says, “‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.” Now I think it’s interesting that it says they washed her and put her in the upper room and she found new life there. The upper room is a place of washing. That’s where service begins. What do you think Dorcas did after he raised her? She continued to serve. It’s in the upper room we discover our spiritual gifts and then we incorporate them in God’s service. Now there’s a pattern here that we see. Have you noticed a number of resurrections in the upper room? We’re not done. There’s more. There is new life that is found in the upper room, but you know before you can be raised there’s also death in the upper room. Dorcas was dead, carried up to the upper room; those boys died, carried to the upper room and there they’re raised. Paul says, Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live.” It’s in the upper room we are crucified with Christ. It’s in your prayer room. You know the Bible promises, “He who seeks to save his life will lose it. He who loses his life will find it.” If you live for yourself you lose everything. If you die for Christ you live. I know it sounds so backwards for us but it’s really true. It is the most important step of faith anybody can make is to say, “Alright I’m going to choose to die through this life and live forever.” But if you live for yourself in this life you die forever. In the upper room there is a death and there’s a new life, but before you can have a resurrection… when a baby is born, do you call it a resurrection? When a baby is born do you call it a resurrection? No, it’s a birth. A resurrection is when someone’s died and then they’re raised. In order for you to be raised you have to die. Does that make sense?

Peter on the roof, Acts 10. Now the Bible tells us this is where Cornelius and his family are converted. Cornelius has this vision. He’s a Roman Centurion and God is going to now take the gospel to the gentiles. Peter is actually the first disciple to the gentiles not Paul. And three messengers are coming to Peter and he doesn’t know it. He’s up on the roof and he’s hungry and he’s waiting to eat. Remember I told you of these upper rooms that usually have some kind of a… they use just palm fronds as a roof or something and they’d get a little cool air up there and he’s up on the roof. And he’s praying while he’s waiting to eat. “Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.” That’s noon. Remember? “Morning evening and at noon will I pray.” “And he became very hungry…” Oh, no I’m sorry. The sixth would be the third, the third hour. Sixth hour is afternoon prayer. “…he became very hungry and he wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and he saw heaven opened…” Would you like to have revelations from God? That often happens in the upper room. I want you to know Peter is getting ready to eat but he’s praying in the upper room before he eats. Is that what it just said? Yeah, that’s what it said. This is what we eat. I think that you need to spend time in your upper room before you eat. Did Jesus bless the food before he gave it to the disciples? Before you study God’s word, who is better qualified to help you understand a book than the author, isn’t that right? I know Pastor Contes is writing a book and he sent me a copy this week and he was trying to explain something in the book to me and who is better qualified to explain what’s in the book than the one who wrote the book? And in the same way, if you’re wanting to understand God’s Book why not ask God? He wrote it. And so before you eat go to the upper room and pray. Do you make that a habit? Do you pray? And it might be Bible tapes. It might be, you know, you don’t have to be rigid about it, but whenever you’re studying or listening for God’s voice ask him to give you understanding. Oh, friends, I tell you I tremble before I stand before you. In a subject like this I’m always afraid I’m not going to do it justice and I say, “Oh, Lord, please help me. I know there’s things I’m missing.” And you know sometimes I’ll write a book. I just finished a book. Oh, I haven’t told you yet, have I? I’ve got a book, it’ll be out in about a week or so called Broken Chains and I’m afraid I’ve left so much out! And I prayed all the time I was writing it. It’s about the demoniac who is you know healed, that Jesus heals, and I thought, “Oh, there’s so many things I’ve found.” And then after I send them in, the script, I thought, “Oh! I forgot to say this!” And so you have to pray that God will reveal these things to you. There’s so much there. You get more out of your food if you chew it. Do you know that? The upper room prayer before you study is as important as chewing your food and mixing it with saliva before you swallow it. You’ll get a lot more nutritional value if you do that. So he’s up on the roof and he’s praying and while he’s praying these messengers come to him and they say, “Please come with us.” And the gospel goes to the gentiles after an upper room experience. Pentecost happens after an upper room experience. Through all of these examples you know what the Lord is telling us? We need to pray more. Martin Luther said, “To pray well is the better half of study.” Pray before you eat. “To pray well is the better half of study.” “God never ceases to speak to us but the noise of the world without and the tumult of our passions within bewilder us and prevent us from listening to Him.” Now I started out by telling you about “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” They’re the ones that make it through the storm. In Noah’s ark what floor did Noah and his family live on? The Bible says there was three levels, which one? Does it say that? It doesn’t say that. How many of you think he lived on the bottom with all the animals? Not on your life! I can’t prove it, but everybody here knows what floor he was on. How many agree he was on the top floor? If you were Noah and you are on the ark the zillion animals where would you be? Up by the window or down in the basement? Noah made it through the flood in the upper room and I think I can preach that safely. Do you agree with me? No, we’re not done.

I talked about Peter. Let’s talk about Paul, Acts chapter 20, Acts chapter 20. Paul is preaching in this upper room. He’s getting ready to leave the next day on another missionary venture. They’ve spent the Sabbath day together and even after the sun goes down, which now makes it the first day of the week Sunday, he’s in the upper room and he’s preaching. And the Bible says, “There were many lamps in the upper room.” You know there certain verses that I read and they jump out at me and I wonder if I’m weird because it’s like I almost get goose bumps. This is one. If the upper room represents prayer, do you think I’ve made a case for that? What does a lamp represent? “Thy word is a lamp.” I like it when it says “there were many lamps in the upper room.” And you know what else? Not only is your word a lamp, the Bible says, “Don’t you know? You are the light of the world.” We are to be living examples of Christ who is the word, right? His light is to reflect through us. You are the light. “There were many lamps in the upper room…” Whoo! You get that? The ones who are shining for Jesus are in the upper room. “There were many lamps in the upper room…” If you want your light to shine, you need to be spending time in the upper room, friends. That will bring revival to our church and God’s church faster than anything if God’s people start praying. Nothing is more calculated to revive your experience and to revive the church, because the church is really lots of little… I didn’t mean to say it that way. The church is really a composition of a bunch of individuals and that’s what comprises the church, and if you in your own life have a revival it revives the church. “There were many lights in the upper room where they were gathered. And in the window sat a certain young man named Eutychus…” The word eutychus means good fortune and that proves true. “…who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep…” All right fess up. Any of you struggle with sleep in the upper room? Sometimes, you know, I have this whole ritual about prayer and I don’t know if I’ll tell you everything, but last thing when Karen and I go to sleep at night she always has the evening prayer because she’s more of a night person. I’m more of a morning person. She can pray more clearly than me at night. Karen can wake up like that, talk and go right back to sleep. I can’t do that. I make my transitions very slowly. I slowly cool down and go to sleep and I wake up slowly. But in the morning when I wake up I roll over and I start to pray and I put my hands, I hope this will keep me from falling back to sleep, but I fall asleep like this laying in my bed praying. Sherida asked me this week, “Doug, is it a sin to pray laying down?” I said, “No, I do it every morning.” Then I go downstairs and kneel. But I think you can pray when you’re swimming. Peter did, right? You can pray in any posture. There’s nothing wrong with that, but did the disciples go to sleep praying? Yeah, they did. He said, “Come and pray with me in the garden of Gethsemane.” They went to sleep in their upper room. What happened to Eutychus when he was sleeping in the upper room? Fell out the window and died. And if we fall asleep during our time of prayer don’t be afraid you’re going to have a heart attack when you pray. I’m just saying that if we’re missing that quality time of prayer we’re at risk that spiritually we could die. The Bible says that… let me read it here. “…sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome… and as Paul continued speaking…” and this I always use for pastors, you preach too long and people could die. “…Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story…” Have you noticed something? “Three men seek you” coming to Peter; Daniel, three times a day; Elijah, three times he stretched himself over the child. There’s so many threes that appear in the upper room and I just wonder if that’s talking about the Holy, Holy, Holy, that chamber of God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit that are there in the upper room with us. And “he fell down from the third loft…” How many levels in the ark? Three levels. And he died. “But Paul went down, fell on him, and embraced him and said, ‘Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’ Now when he had come back up, they had broken bread...” in the upper room is where the bread is broken “…and they’d eaten, they talked a long time, even till daybreak.” And here is your, almost your last upper room. Again another boy is resurrected in connection with an upper room experience, all talking about examples of Christ. “He who fails to pray does not cheat God, he cheats himself.” I’m running out of time. I do see the clock but there’s a few more things I want to say to you.

You know the Bible closes with the ultimate upper room. John has a vision. Revelation is a whole upper room experience. “After these things I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven and a voice that I heard was like a trumpet and said to me, ‘Come up, come up here and I will show you things which must take place.’” If we go into the upper room. John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. He was in prayer and he had this vision and God called him up. The ultimate upper room is going to be when we go to heaven and we see what John saw, amen? Here’s a question. With all that’s happening in the world would you rather talk about the president if you could have an opportunity to talk to the president? Forget about your political views, what would you rather do? Doesn’t matter what president it is, I’d rather talk to him than about him. Would you rather talk to God or about God? What a privilege that we can talk to God. Let me quote Spurgeon for you. “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” Luther said, “As it is the business of tailors to sew clothes and cobblers to mend shoes it is the business of Christians to pray.” Samuel Chadwick said, “Great supplicants have sought the secret place of the Most High not that they might escape the world but that they might learn to conquer it.” It is in the secret place in those upper rooms with the Lord that we gain the strength to conquer. You know every week, every Sunday we go to the top story of the Page Net building which is the tallest building around Cal Expo. It’s not Page Net any more. They changed it. I think it’s Northwestern Mutual, but it’s this tall office building there that’s right on the corner of Cal Expo, you can’t miss it, right on the corner of Cal Expo and Business 80. If you traveled in Sacramento you’ve seen it. There’s a radio station up there and it’s really interesting you get to the top floor and the whole thing is soundproof and we get on our knees and many of you here have gone to that and helped me with the radio program. We get on our knees every Sunday in that upper room and we pray that God will take possession of this program and then we broadcast through satellites up in the sky a message that we’re getting reports of lives that have changed because of what’s happening in the upper room. And you know, we get on our knees. We feel like the most important preparation for that program is not the hours it might take me to find an amazing fact, but it’s what happens when we pray there and then something miraculous happens every time. You can have those kind of experiences. I believe that there is a real trial coming to our world, friends, and it’s only as we spend time in that upper room we’ll be prepared. Allow me to quote from Steps to Christ, page 94, “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are but in order to enable us to receive him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but it brings us up to him. The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray.” Have you felt that darkness, friends? “The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin. It is all because they do not make use of the privileges God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray when” catch this “prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouses where are treasured the boundless resources of omnipotence.” Through prayer you and I have access to heaven. Some of us, if we were honest we would pray and tell God he bores us. Some of us by our actions would say, “Lord, we’re bored with you.” We need to ask him to forgive us for those sentiments and make time. We need to prepare that upper room. If we’re going to make it through the flood like Noah we need to find that place, don’t we? If we’re going to find the power, the cleansing, all that we’ve discussed then we need that experience in the upper room. You know it’s been a while since we’ve sung that song “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. Why don’t you find that in your hymnal. What number is that? 478. “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and pay careful attention to the words as we sing. Let’s stand together and sing about that and then I have an appeal for you.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, That calls me from a world of care, And bids me, at my Father’s throne, Make all my wants and wishes known! In seasons of distress and grief, My soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempters snare, By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.

I think we all understand that upper room is really our time of prayer with God. What a privilege it is to be able to enter boldly into the throne of grace, to have an appointment with the Almighty and know he will give you his undivided attention. Some of us have been missing those opportunities. They need to be prepared. They need to be planned. We need to be like Daniel, relentless and say, “Even if we die, I’m going to take my time with God because he is more important than anything.” Sometimes the busier you are the more you need that time of prayer. You know the purpose of this message is very specific. I want to challenge you, encourage you to make a decision right now to say, “Lord, by your grace I’m going to set that time, I’m going to prepare an upper room, I’m going to be spending time with you, quality time, listening, focusing, receiving that cleansing, that forgiveness, that bread all that’s been promised here in these examples we’ve looked at.” Do you want to make that commitment now? That’s the only way. “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High...” Is that your prayer, friends? Would you like to lift your hand and say, “Lord, I want to have a revival in my upper room.” Let’s sing verse two together.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer! Thy wings shall my petition bear To Him whose truth and faithfulness Engage the waiting soul to bless. And since He bids me seek His face, Believe His word, and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my every care, And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity for some special prayer at the close of a message like this and we’re going to close by entering that upper room, secret place together. As we sing the last verse if some of you have a special need you’d like to bring to the Lord we’d like to invite you to come to the front and we’re going to all kneel together (those that are able) as we close our service with prayer. Come as we sing verse three if you have some special request.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer! May I thy consolation share Till from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height I view my home and take my flight. In my immortal flesh I’ll rise to seize the everlasting prize. And shout while passing through the air, “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

Father in heaven, Lord, we do long for that day when we can pass through the storm. Now we see through the glass darkly, but someday face to face. Now we have this beautiful opportunity through prayer, through this vehicle to communicate with the Almighty, but someday we will be in your presence and before we even call you will answer. Lord, we know if we want that experience then we need to find that upper room now. Help us, Lord, please forgive us for our neglect. I am mingling my prayers with those of your people. Forgive me for my neglect. As we see that day approaching, oh, we need to pray. We want the outpouring of the Spirit as they had during Pentecost. We want cleansing and victory over sin and over the lions that are roaming about, Lord. We want Jesus to be alive in our lives and resurrected and to find that new life and we know that you will do for us when we pray what you otherwise would not do simply because we fail to ask so, Lord, we’re asking teach us how to prepare that time, how to pray fervently, and I pray there will be a difference and a revival in our lives as your people as we pray together and pray alone with thee. In Jesus’ name we ask and we thank you. Amen.

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An Invitation to Prayer for Mothers by Jack Countryman

An Invitation to Prayer for Mothers by Jack Countryman
God's Promises




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