“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16.24
Whenever Jesus talks to us about prayer, we do well to give attention to WHAT He says. And in this verse He says a lot. This concept of asking in prayer in Jesus’ name was a new concept to the disciples. He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name …” I am fearful that so often we grow to think that if we just tack this little phrase “in Jesus Name” on to the end of our prayers, somehow we have met the requirement for answered prayer. The key here is to ask “in (His) name.” that means to ask as though He were doing the asking. In order to do that, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in knowing WHAT to ask.
Jesus DELIGHTS in answering the prayers of His children. He says, “ask, and ye SHALL receive … ” If you remember your English classes, you remember that the word “shall” used in the second or third person is a DISTINCT AFFIRMATION that the thing will be done. Why does Jesus delight in answering our prayers? “that y(our) joy may be full.” God does not want His children wandering through this life joyless. That is certainly not a testament to His goodness and His grace. How much better is it for this world to see a joy filled Christian who is bubbling over and can’t wait to tell someone else why!
Ask yourself, “Is my life filled with joy?” And if it is not, then why not? Have you not “asked”? Or have you not asked “in Jesus’ name”? or has He answered and yet you have not been displaying the joy He promised? It is yours Claim it and display it. Just my thoughts …
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6.11-12
Far too many of God’s children fail to recognize the reality of who Satan is. He is VERY real! He is VERY powerful! He is VERY deceptive! And he is VERY relentless in his pursuit of God’s children. However, he is NOT omnipresent, nor is he omniscient, nor omnipotent. God alone has those attributes.
Since we are engaged in a SPIRITUAL warfare, it is necessary that we are protected with SPIRITUAL armor. That is what Paul is talking about here. At the risk of seeming to be redundant, let me share these verses to equip us: “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye MAY BE ABLE to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Read these verses carefully and seek to APPLY them to YOUR life. Do not miss the call to prayer in v. 18. Paul states that we are to persevere in prayer. That is more than a quickie before we go to sleep or a memorized prayer at mealtime. Paul is telling us that prayer is something we work at and be in a spirit of prayer ALWAYS. May God encourage each one of us today with these words of warning and affirmation. Just my thoughts …
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust. 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” Psalm 91.1-3
Have you ever just longed for a place where you and God could just be alone and you could pour out your heart to Him and He would just listen? I have. The psalmist here reminds us, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Do YOU have a secret place? If not, would you like to have one? Ask God to show you where your special place can be. Then, spend some time just abiding there.
I love the words of the next verse: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress … ” Wow – refuge … a place to run to when the enemy is after you; fortress … a place of safety where you can be defended and feel safe. THAT is what God is able to provide for us. You will never feel safer than when you are in your secret place with God.
“ in him I will trust.” Trust in God is never misplaced. I remind us all that we never know if God is enough until He is all we have.
Look how v. 3 begins: “Surely … ” Need some assurance that your God is able to do what you need? Here it is: “Surely … ” There was NO DOUBT in the mind of the psalmist that God could do what he needed. So what is it that He will surely do? “ … he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence Whatever the evil one puts in your path, God is your answer to that situation. Before you finish with this blog, go back and read those verses again out loud. Let those words soak in. Just my thoughts …
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8.28
These words are filled with a promise from God. Paul declares that we can KNOW this one thing: “all things work together for good to them that love God … ” Have you ever struggled with this verse? I must confess that I have. But I think that my question has been this: “How is God going to make this _____________ work together for me in my lifetime?” And then the thought comes to mind, “Why does it MATTER HOW God is going to do it? If He said it, it will happen.”
Let’s loo for moment at the phrase “all things … ” Does that mean the death of a spouse? Yes! Does that mean the death of a child? Yes. Does that mean the premature death of a parent? Yes. Does that mean the loss of a good paying job? Yes. Does that mean a grandchild who is born with birth defects? Yes. Does that mean a marriage that goes wrong and ends in divorce? This is only a small portion of things that we could include in God’s “all things.” But if the verse is going to mean anything at all to us, we must literally believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God … ”.
Some manuscripts read, “God works in all things for the good.” But what is the context of meaning for this last phrase: “, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”? Let’s consider this translation: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” What is God’s purpose for me? For you? I believe His purpose for us is to be His hands and feet, mouth and ears to a lost world. How are they going to know The Christ we know if He is not reflected in our lives? Perhaps today we should consider BEING His hands and feet, mouth and ears to the lost world around us and to the believing world of which we are all a part! Just my thoughts …
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7.25
There are two principal truths in this verse: (1) salvation and (2) intercession. Both of these are made possible by Jesus Christ. When we read that “he is able also to save them to the uttermost … ” we must understand that He is able to save those who, in our minds are farthest from Him. We would look at them as “really bad people.” Somehow it may seem to us that being a really bad sinner makes it harder for God to save them. It takes the same amount of God’s grace to save a serial killer as it does to save a child who is still at a tender age and knows that he/she needs to be saved because of sin. While we may choose to categorize sin, to God sin is sin.
This matter of intercession is perhaps greater than we think. After we are saved, we still commit sin on a daily basis. In order for us to maintain a close fellowship with God, we must deal with that sin. So Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us. Can you picture this? Every time we sin, Jesus says to His Father, “I paid for that. He’s/She’s still perfect.” But you and I need to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to confess that sin to God so that nothing is between our soul and the Savior. I may have related this before, but it is worth repeating. Charles Spurgeon was crossing the street with a friend when all of a sudden he dropped to his knees and began to pray while traffic passed all around him. When he finished to went on to the other side of the street and his friend said, “What were you doing out there?” and Spurgeon replied, “I felt a cloud come between my soul and my Savior and I couldn’t take another step until I dealt with it.” We need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting in our lives. Just my thoughts …
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11
Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.
The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.
Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.
When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16
Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.
Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.
If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.
It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep tings of God. ” 1 Corinthians 2.9-10
There are certainly some beautiful sights down here on this earth. We just returned a few days ago from seeing the Grand Canyon. I have never seen such natural beauty in all my life. God really outdid himself when He formed the Grand Canyon.
But Paul’s words here is attempting to prepare us for what heaven will be like: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Even though we use the most descriptive language possible, we cannot come close to what heaven will be like. There are times when we say things like, “This is a little taste of heaven”, but we really don’t know that. I have seen some pretty awesome houses that men have designed and built. But again I will say, nothing can compare with what we will experience when we get to heaven.
Paul goes on to say, “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:” The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into all truth. Jesus promised that when He was about to go away and leave His disciples. I think it is probably a good thing that God chooses NOT to reveal some of these things to us. The unknown remains a mystery and that should make each one of us all the more anxious to be there and see God’s handiwork. The Holy Spirit is able to know the heart of God – the deep things of God – and when He reveals some of the mystery to us, we are all the more anxious to be there with God and see what He has done for us. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. ” (John 14.1-3)
It is real – just believe it. Just my thoughts …
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” 1 John 4.1-2
I think by now most of us have become experts at recognizing a “telemarketer” when one calls. They have gotten very creative and some of them SOUND very believable. The same kind of “spiritual telemarketer” hits us up on a daily basis – sometimes on an hourly basis. So John’s counsel here is critical to our everyday walk with the Lord.
Consider: “Beloved, believe not every spirit … ” I had a professor in college who gave this quote: “Sometimes the good becomes the enemy of the best.” Every idea that Satan presents isn’t always bad. It may sound “good” but you can be sure it is not “God’s best” for us. He continues: “try the spirits whether they are of God … ” Why would we be warned about that? Here’s the answer: “because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” In a world where we have access to almost everything, religious untruth abounds everywhere. Just because a person has the funds to pay for a national radio and/or TV ministry doesn’t mean they always speak the truth. Just because something SOUNDS good doesn’t mean that it IS good. Remember, “try the spirits … ”
Verse 2 gives us a sound bit of truth: “2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” God will ALWAYS make it clear when He is speaking to us. “2Hereby know ye … ”This is HOW we know. We must compare what we hear with what we KNOW is true from the Word of God. And the best way to do that is to read God’s Word daily. Just my thoughts …
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26.9
As believers in this New Testament era, we have a faith that is both historical and experiential. When I think of prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and the others we find in the Old Testament, I wonder what their experiences with God were like. They were looking forward to the cross, and we are looking back to the cross.
When I read these words from Isaiah’s pen, his longings certainly seem to be a lot like mine. He says: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night … ” There have been numerous times when I have awakened during the night and the longing of my heart is to cry out to God about something that is bearing on me. I know He hears me no matter where I am or what time it is. He is “on duty” 24×7.
And then we hear him say: “with my spirit within me will I seek thee early:” I think Isaiah was an early riser. That was when he met with God. The day was young, his mind was fresh, and his spirit had a longing to speak to this God who wanted to hear from him. I know that there are many whose work prohibits them from rising early. I believe it is not so much the time of day as it is the beginning of OUR day.
This last phrase causes us to reflect on how the world sees this God whom we worship: “for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Sometimes we hear false teaching that tells us that God is love and He will ultimately take everyone to heaven in the end. That sounds a bit syrupy because it is not true. When this world see God at work in His “judgments” here on earth, some people in the world begin to pay attention to the fact that this is the hand of God and not just a fluke of nature or that something else “just happened.” Where is our place in all this? Let’s seek God with our whole heart and live in such a way that even the vilest sinner will look at us and say, “there’s something different about that person’s life.” Just my thoughts …