Archive | February 2016

Praying in God’s Will

Good wisdom on how God answers prayer. Is there a “magic formula”?

TLP

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I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

1 John 5:13-15

These three simple verses are encouraging ones, for they assure us of two wonderful things.  First, we have eternal life.  Second, anything we ask for in prayer will be done, if we ask in God’s will. This is our focus here: God’s will.

The whole idea of tacking “in Jesus’ name, Amen” has always struck me as trying to work the system just a little bit.  Of course, we do that because Jesus is recorded three times in John’s gospel telling His disciples…

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What Exactly IS that “Narrow Gate and Way?”

Most people are familiar with John 14:1-6 where Jesus comforts his disciples in the light of the horrendous events that are about to happen to Him and to them.
“Let not your heart be troubled.”

You believe in God, well, believe also in me.

I’m going away…
but I’ll be back to get you, so you can live with me forever.
You know the way to the place I’m going, right?

Thomas (panicking) What? No! We don’t know where you are going… how can we know the WAY?

(Oh, Thomas, I know you love me so much and that you would die with me if you could, and that you can’t stand the thought of my leaving… but listen.) *I* (me, Jesus) AM the way…

Narrow way(There is only ONE way to God, to heaven, to eternal life… and it is very narrow and hard to find. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Few find it.

It’s only about 10 inches wide [speaking picture-wise]. It is the “width” of the post of the cross on which would soon hang the very Son of God, paying the punishment of death for our sin in His own body… being crushed and forsaken by His dear Father as He is weighed down by the horrendous, heinous, sickening sin of all who would believe in Him….bearing it, as only a perfectly sinless being can do for another, taking on the ultimate DEATH SENTENCE.)

THIS is the way, dear fearful but faithful Thomas (and all who will believe). It’s the ONLY way. You must come to God through ME, through my death for sin on that hideous cross, which is the only thing that will satisfy the holiness and justice of God Almighty.

And I am the truth…

(Yes, old Pilate would ask Jesus “What is truth?” but how could he understand what Jesus meant?

Jesus IS the truth of God. The truth that God spoke in His word clear back in the garden of Eden, through all the promises He made concerning a sin-bearer, a devil-defeater, a perfect sacrifice, a mighty rock from which water springs, manna in the wilderness, a bronze serpent impaled on a post and lifted up, a servant, a lamb silent to its slaughter, a son of David, a King, a morning star…. All that God spoke was absolute TRUTH – the truth that is Jesus who fulfilled every single prediction and pattern in the Holy Scriptures.) (Luke 24:26-27)

And I am the life…

(We are all dead in trespasses and sin…. we all are in a living death passed down through Adam and Eve when they first chose Satan over God. The wages of this sin is death. Sure, we may live for 35, 60, 95 or even 110 earthly years, but the end of us all is certain death. The only everlasting life we can have comes through a new birth by the Holy Spirit of God.

In a way, we are Jesus’ “offspring” (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus IS that new life for each of us who will trust in Him. On the other side of that cross is new life and righteousness complete and pure. We shed our sin upon the dying Jesus and come through new born, pure and righteous.. That’s how God sees us in Christ.) (2 Corinthians 5:21)

NO PERSON comes to the Father except through Christ on the cross.

Do you believe in Jesus the truth, the ONLY narrow way to eternal life? Would to God that you did.

 

God’s Perfect Timing

My Bible reading today was John 11:1-55, on Martha, Mary and their baby brother Lazarus.  It’s a picture of God’s Perfect Timing, among a lot of other things. If you are like me, you are impatient when God doesn’t move when and how you expect or desire Him too. Always it is for our own good when things don’t work out to our liking. God’s ways are so much higher and better than ours! If we will just trust him quietly we would see. But, no… that’s not in our nature. Well, not in mine.

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Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (11:1-3)

mary-martha-lazarus-1104310-galleryThe sisters sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was REALLY sick. (It was just a statement, but it went with the unspoken assumption that Jesus would come quickly and heal him “before it was too late.”)

Jesus did not come.

In fact He waited two more days after receiving their message before announcing to His disciples that Lazarus was dead. It took a few more days to head back and finally arrive. By that time, the brother had been the grave four days and had begun to rot. (stink)

MARTHA (going out to meet Him): “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”

MARY (falling at His feet, weeping): “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”

RELATIVES & NEIGHBORS (whispering): “Could not He who opened the eyes of the man born blind also have kept this man from dying?”

If only! Oh, if only He would have come! Things would have been so different! Why did He delay till it was too late?

(Do YOU ever feel that way? I do. That if Jesus was HERE RIGHT NOW, my illness would be cured? If He was here, He could just say the word, lay hands on me, or let power flow from his robe when I reached to touch its hem…. But He didn’t come when I prayed. He was silent. My situation got worse. I wasn’t healed.)

Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in His spirit.  Seeing the grief and pain and unbelief and death that the wiles of the devil had caused to His creation through deception and sin, Jesus wept angrily.

“Where is he buried?” He demanded.

“Roll back the stone!” He commanded

“Father, I ask this so that the people around may believe that YOU sent me (to bring life and resurrection power over sin and death).” He prayed as He looked to heaven.

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!”  He shouted.

It was a shout of victory over sin and death, much like his own cry from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!”

And… “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (11:44)

Three days after His crucifixion and burial, Jesus also would rise from the dead, though the grave clothes would not cling to Him.

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:22-24)

“I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus said to Martha and now to us. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?” (11:25-26)

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

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And so….. because of the delay of a few days (so misunderstood and maligned by the sisters) a greater miracle brought glory to Christ and to the Father, and many believed. It was a crescendo of God’s power displayed, to remind them, and all of us, and perhaps even Jesus, of that ultimate miracle which would take place on Resurrection morning.

If you are desperately praying for God’s intervention right now. If you can see no way out. If it is almost too late. Remember this story.  God sees and knows exactly your circumstances. His plan for you is good. Trust Him. He is totally trustworthy.