Friday, July 6, 2012

Pray Without Ceasing

I Thessalonians 5:17

    Pray without ceasing (to pray). How are we to understand this passage? Are we to pray audibly, every moment of every day? Or shall we remain constantly in an attitude of prayer? This would be commendable, right?  Or may we discern that we should not, no never, cease in our prayer life, regardless of any situation or circumstance? If the lack of safety and of security looms over head as a darkening storm; if it seemingly becomes a great threat: shall we labor to distance ourselves from that danger? Or shall we draw nigh unto God: shall we pray all the more fervently? Is safety to be found in attempting to distance our selves from the impending peril - or to be found in the presence of our Shield and Defender?
    Pray without ceasing. If any man understood [or yet] understands this saying, it was [and is] our Lord Jesus Christ! “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” Luke 6:12.  The garden of Gethsemane. “And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oft-times resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons” John 18:2-3.
    Why did Jesus pray constantly? He is very God! He is the eternally sinless Son of God! He is Righteousness! What need had He for such prayer? One answer might house all others:  “Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh to you” James 4:8  Oh, how we need to follow His example! “Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you!”
    Pray without ceasing! In yet other scriptures, Paul gives us insight into his own thoughts; the burden of his heart - what he prayed, for whom he prayed, the object of prayer, the focus of his prayer.
     “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” Rom.1:9.
    “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” I Thes. 1:3.
    “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you also that believe” I Thes. 2:13.
    “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayer night and day” II Tim. 1:3.
    These are prayers of thanksgiving to God. Paul thanks God for His effectual working in the Believers. His prayers are prayers of remembrance. As Paul prays he is brought unto remembrance of  his brethren in the Lord. As he  is brought unto remembrance of his brethren, he prays.
    I dare say that there are few times on record that Paul prayed to God in behalf of himself. Here is perhaps the most familiar.
    “there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted beyond measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, [not prayed without ceasing] that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” II Cor. 12:7-9a. Though I cannot say for sure, but I believe it to have happened this way: “Oh Lord I beseech Thee to remove this thorn in the flesh.” “My grace is sufficient for thee.” A second time: “Oh Lord I beseech Thee; remove this thorn in the flesh.” “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The third time: Oh Lord, I beseech Thee; remove this thorn in the flesh.” “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “Lord, what did you say?” “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee!” “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong”  vs.9b-10. “Oh Lord, brand the declaration of your Word upon my heart; keep it ever before me. When I am about to pray for some need in my own life, remind me, even before I pray, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
    Therefore it should be evident: praying without ceasing is to be predominately in behalf of others!
    If we would further seek to know what it means to ‘Pray Without Ceasing’ we might find the Old Testament to be a reliable source of understanding. And what Bible character, if we were to choose one, would stand out more than Daniel?
    “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of the  eunuchs that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes. . .Now among these were of the children of Judah, DANIEL. . .” Dan. 1:1,3,6.  Daniel over time became the first of three presidents: he was preferred: the wicked, prideful presidents and princes sought, through deceit and lies, to set Daniel up to be cast into the king’s den of lions. But the presidents and princes “could find no fault in him.” The deception: Now, O King, establish a decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed: “Whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions” vs.7b,8.   
Daniel prayed without. . .
  “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” Daniel 6:10.  aforetime: min, den, qadmah. Aforetime, a former time, antiquity, a priority. Were not the chambers of the heart of Daniel opened toward heaven; his face toward God, giving thanks continually?  
    “Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God” vs. 11.  No surprise there! Those men knew the life and testimony of our Brother! There was no doubt concerning his response and reaction to the statute fabricated by those men. Oh that our testimony before men might be even as Daniel’s!      
Ceasing to pray: is that an option?
   “And when thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly: Matt. 6:5-6.
    Oh, Daniel! Is it not time to invoke another method of prayer?  Close the windows to your chamber! Enter into your closet and shut the door! Pray to your Father in secret that you be not discovered in failing to regard and show obedience to the king and his decree! It is unchangeable! It altereth not! (Dan. 6:8,12,15)  Listen Daniel: who’s to know? Publicly acknowledge acceptance of the king’s decree, but pray, hidden in your closet to your God. “You mean, LIE, to the king, to myself, and to God?” Then Daniel, just cease to pray at all to God for the period of thirty days! You have prayed without ceasing - now cease to pray; fear man more than you fear God. Daniel, what saith the scriptures: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people. . .Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles. . .Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme. . .” I Peter 2: 9a,12a,13a. 
    What is our Brother to do? Daniel, “submit yourself to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be the king, as supreme.” But he’s not going to do so, is he? Is there some law of antiquity that supersedes  the writing of Peter? But then, this is NOT the king’s ordinance, is it? Daniel DID submit himself to the king inasmuch as he was preferred above the presidents. . .an excellent spirit was found in him; the king thought to set him over the whole realm” Dan. 6:3,4. No, it was the presidents and princes who sought occasion against Daniel. They consulted together to establish a royal statute; not the king. “Daniel, which is of the children of captivity of Judah, regardeth thee not. . .nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day” vs.13.  It was their decree and not the king’s. It  was they who regarded not the king. These were a wicked den of lions, following the devil whom they served; going about seeking whom they might devour.
    “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” I Thess. 5:17-18. Daniel kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.
 A Prayer in Response to a Prayer. 
    Oh Daniel! Why would you put yourself in harm’s way? After all, isn’t your having the windows open toward Jerusalem; praying toward that City - is that any more than a ritual that you are performing? What is the purpose; where is the reasoning; why do you do it?
The prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple.
    “And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. ” I Kings 8:26. verified: aman, to build up, support rendered faithful, to be permanent, be true, certain, stedfast, sure. 
    And what is the Word/Covenant that God made with David? “I will set up thy seed after thee [Solomon] which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his kingdom forever . . . And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever” II Samuel 7:12b,13,16. The final words of David: “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure” II Samuel 23:5b.
    Solomon, having besought the Lord to “verify His Word” now continues to pray: “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive” I Kings 8:28-30.
    “When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers” I Kings 8:32-34. Sound familiar? It’s counterpart is greatly known and often quoted - II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name . . .”  
The Davidic covenant that God verified to Solomon.
    God “verifies His Word” to Solomon:  “If  thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shall observe my statutes and my judgments; then will I establish the throne of my kingdom according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel” II Chron. 7:17,18. Daniel is honoring the divine covenant that God made with David and Solomon. He is taking God at His Word! “That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.” Again, Daniel in opening his windows toward Jerusalem, the place where  God said, My name is there; praying toward the same: that God will hear from heaven, forgive the sin of the people and heal the land! The prayer of Daniel is not a mere ritual! It is a covenant/prayer!
   “Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God” Dan. 6:11.  “these presidents and princes assembled together. . .consulted together. . .these men assembled unto the king.” And we know what happened: Daniel was delivered - and the den of lions found in the king’s court was cast into yet another den of lions. . .
    This brings to mind another scripture in regard to ‘assembling.’ “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” Heb. 10:25. (Know that our adversaries cease not to assemble themselves together against us.)
On Ceasing to Pray: Words of Wisdom from the Prophet Samuel.  
     “For the Lord will not forsaken his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you” I Samuel 12;22-24.
    “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in CEASING TO PRAY for you?”
Praying in Jesus’ Name. 
    Many today think to set laws and penalties against those who would pray in Jesus’ name. It is a declaration set in stone before the foundation of the world, a priority: the Law of God takes priority over the decrees of men. Shall men in their arrogance think themselves able to override, to make of non-effect the Law of a Sovereign God? Shall the creation think to bring the Creator into submission? What folly! We must obey God rather than men.
    “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” John 14:13.  “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” John 15:16.  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” John 16:23. “Whether  therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” I Cor. 10:31.   “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Eph. 5:20. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” Col. 3:17.
    Do we pray after we have eaten, in Jesus name - or before we eat? Then should our praying not only end in the name of Jesus, but originate in His name? “Our Father, we enter thy presence in the name of thy Son Jesus!” Why should we not saturate the prayer; every petition, every supplication, every thanksgiving: present every request individually in Jesus’ name? He would stay at the forefront of our minds; and I believe that our Heavenly Father would be pleased and likewise glorified! God forbid that we simply end our prayer, “In Jesus name” as a ritual, that it come across as no more than  a tag or an afterthought. 
    Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.  Note, the way to rejoice evermore is to pray without ceasing. We should rejoice more if we prayed more. We should pray always, and not faint. . . The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season.  Matthew Henry

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Running the Race

    Running the race. What thought is brought to mind? A paved track with parallel lines? A number of competitors lined up: the goal, to see who is the fastest; who will break the tape at the finish line? Of what purpose would such a race be as applied to the Christian life? Perhaps ancient history can afford us some insight. . .
Setting the Stage
    The first two decades of the fifth century B.C. marked one of the great turning points in world history. These were the years of the Persian and Greek wars. The powerful Persian Empire in 546 B.C. extended from Asia to Egypt to what is now Turkey. This great empire built the first Suez Canal which linked the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. 
    Greece on the other hand, consisted of a scattering of independent city-states, called poleis. These early city-states spawned the democratic ideas that have persisted into modern times. Athens eventually became the largest and most prosperous polis. Another Greek polis, Sparta, was not so democratic. They kept their kings and maintained a conservative, regimented society built around military training and the art of war.
The Persian/Greek War
    The Persian Empire over the years expanded to the Mediterranean Sea. In the process some Greek settlements were conquered. Ionia was one such settlement. After many years, they tried to revolt against the Persians but the uprising was immediately squashed by the powerful Persian Army. By the year 490 B.C., the Persian Army was ready to expand their territory and move into Europe. They landed a large force just outside of Athens on the plains of Marathon and prepared for attack.
The Role of Phidippides
    The Athens, vastly outnumbered, desperately needed the help of Sparta's military base to help fend off the attack. Time was short, so the Athenian generals send Phidippides (or Philippides) a professional runner to Sparta to ask for help. The 140 mile course was very mountainous and rugged. Phidippides ran the course in about 36 hours. Sparta agreed to help but said they would not take the field until the moon was full due to religious laws. This would leave the Athenians alone to fight the Persian Army. Phidippides ran back to Athens (another 140 miles!) with the disappointing news. Immediately, the small Athenian Army (including Phidippedes) marched to the plains of Marathon to prepare for battle. 
The Battle of Marathon 
    The Athenian Army was outnumbered 4 to 1 but they launched a surprise offensive thrust which at the time appeared suicidal. But by day's end, 6400 Persian bodies lay dead on the field while only 192 Athenians had been killed. The surviving Persians fled to sea and headed south to Athens where they hoped to attack the city before the Greek Army could re-assemble there.
    Phidippides was again called upon to run to Athens (26 miles away) to carry the news of the victory and the warning about the approaching Persian ships. Despite his fatigue after his recent run to Sparta and back and having fought all morning in heavy armor, Phidippides rose to the challenge. Pushing himself past normal limits of human endurance, he reached Athens in perhaps 3 hours, delivered his message and then died shortly thereafter from exhaustion. 
    Sparta and the other Greek polies eventually came to the aid of Athens and eventually they were able to turn back the Persian attempt to conquer Greece. 
Concluding Remarks and Beginning of Olympic Marathon Races
    The Greek victory marked one of the decisive events of world history because it kept an Eastern power (the Persians) from conquering what is now Europe. The victory gave the Greeks incredible confidence in themselves, their government and their culture.
         Centuries later, the modern Olympic Games introduced a "marathon" race of (40,000 meters or 24.85 miles).  The winner was Spiridon Louis, a Greek postal worker from village of Marusi and veteran of several long military marches , His time was 2 hours, 58 minutes, 50 seconds for the 40 kilometer distance (average pace of  7:11 minutes per mile).
      At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the marathon distance was changed to 26 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castleto White City stadium, with 385 yards added on so the race could finish in front of King Edward VII's royal box. After 16 years of extremely heated discussion, this 26.2 mile distance was established at the 1924 Olympics in Paris as the official marathon distance.
   As well known in history as was the phenomenal running of Phidippides it was not unnatural that the writer of Hebrews should reference “running the race” as a comparison unto the followers of Christ.
Let us . . .run with patience the race.
    “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and [the] sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” Heb. 12:1.  (Omit the).  Better, lay aside Sin (apotithemi, to put away, cast off.)
    The “laying aside” of every weight and Sin: does it infer that we should lay aside, that is set to one side, not at a great distance; perhaps at ‘arm’s length,” perchance it will be readily accessible should we desire to take it up again. No! It is to cast off. The athlete who trains to throw the shot put, a heavy metal ball: with his strong arm he casts it as far down field as he can. What folly that man should think to cast off Sin with the arm of the flesh. “I can do it myself, I need no other help!” Consider the strong arm of the Lord: He cast our Sins, as weighty as they were, as far as the east is from the west!
    The casting away of every weight and sin which doth so easily beset us. As the hymn writer mourned, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” Beset, euperistatos, well standing around, i.e. (a competitor) thwarting (a racer) in every direction (fig. of sin in general.) There has never been a day when the world (and Satan) have had so many resources to literally bombard its occupants (and the Believer). And the attack is omni-directional: Satan continually goes about seeking whom he may devour.
    “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” Luke 22:41-44. “and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” Rev. 12:4b. Are we not to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ was to run the race that was set before Him, even unto its Finish, constantly be attacked from all sides by Satan himself along with his sons the Pharisees, priests: His own received Him not. And some will inquire, Why did Jesus pray so much?
    And what do these two verses have to do with one another, you may ask? The answer: EVERYTHING! Carefully read the following definitions. The unfolding of their message is foundational to the comprehension of these verses.
ago, a prim verb; prop. to lead; by impl. to bring, drive, (reflex.) go (spec.) pass (time), or (fig.) induce: be, bring (forth), carry, (let), keep, lead away, be open. 
agoge, redupl; a bringing up, i.e. mode of living: - manner of life.
agon, prop. a place of assembly (as if (led), i.e., ( by impl.) a contest held there); fig., an effort or anxiety:  conflict, contention, fight, race.
agonia, a struggle (prop. ( the state), i.e. (fig.) anguish, agony.
agonizomai, to struggle, lit. ( to compete for a prize), fig. ( to contend with an adversary), or gen. (to endeavor to accomplish something): fight, labor fervently, strive.
    How may we define ‘running the race?’  A bringing up, mode of living, manner of life;  agony, a struggle, anguish, to contend with an adversary, labour fervently.  There is an assembly, a contest (held there), a conflict, contention, fight, race.
    Jesus went before us and endured the agony as He contended with the adversary; as He ran the race in our stead. Shall we not take up our cross and follow Him? The adversary with which we contend is a defeated foe! Jesus gained the victory forever at the cross; He finished His race, crossing the FINISH line! (May it be known that Satan, though a competitor of sorts, was not in the race!  The race was one that was ruled by certain laws. If he, Satan, could get Jesus to break just ONE - He would be disqualified! Even at the cross, Satan must have been convinced that Jesus would fail - and he, the devil would be the victor by default. And it would be God, who according to His own Law, would disqualify the Lord Jesus! Ha! Not so, Lucifer! 
    In Luke 22 we read “Father, if thou be willing, remove the cup. . .and there appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him. Shall we not rightly apply Isaiah 40:28-30 here? Jesus was not pulling back, but pressing forward. Men may have led Jesus to the cross, but it was His passion that drove Him there; sweat as great drops of blood, agony; a fire within His soul that could not be quenched. Jesus has, for the 33 years of His life on earth, run the course that the Father set before Him; victory was nigh at hand; Satan would be defeated!
   “Jesus “endured the cross. . .endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.”  “consider Him - lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” Hebrews 12:2b, 3.  He willingly ran the race according to the will of the Father. On the cross He declared - FINISHED! The race which He ran with patience was one of endurance, and He won it, defeating His Foe! On Resurrection Day His Father raised Him up: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. . .And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Phil. 2:9,10a,11.  He who endured the crown of thorns is “crowned with glory and honour” Heb. 2:9.
    A soldier may carry upon his person a heavy backpack, with his rifle and much other equipment; but the one who is running a race will travel light: he will lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset him - he will run with  patience the race that is set before him. His goal, the finish line: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher [finish line?] of our faith. He will “run with patience:”  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
A Soldier of the Cross.
    Despite his fatigue after his run to Sparta and back and having fought all morning in heavy armour, Phidippides rose to the challenge. Pushing himself past normal limits of endurance, he reached Athens in perhaps 3 hours, delivering his message and then died shortly thereafter from exhaustion. 
   Amidst the running of his course, Phidippides put on heavy armour and fought against the enemy; then resumed the run from Marathon to Athens.  
    Are we not admonished to “run the race,” yet to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might? To put on the whole armour of God, that ye [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil? (Eph. 6:10,11.)
    “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made conformable unto his death: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. . .forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Phil. 3;10, 13b, 14.
       “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. . .” Brother Paul, tell us of the fight that you have fought; and of the race that you have run; of the course that you have finished.   
    “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils  in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” II Cor. 11:24-27. 
    “And he [the Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong” II Cor. 12;9,10.
   They might imprison Paul, even put him in stocks (Acts 15:22) but they could not imprison his spirit, nor the Gospel of Jesus Christ! He continued running the race! 
A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
    Consider the running of the race by those heroes of faith found in Hebrews chapter 11: “Who through faith. . .had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented: (Of whom the world was not worthy:)  Choose a Moses, a Joseph, a David: follow his life’s story; see him running the race that is set before him: his fights, his struggles, his persecution - and his God who constantly watched over him in the midst of it all! 
Running with a Vision.
    Look unto your Neighbor. You are not alone in the running of the race. 
    In the running of a marathon (26.2 miles) one will sweat profusely, will likely lose weight: in so doing he/she will consume not just a cup, but liters of water and other fluids. They cannot be weighted down, carrying a gallon jug of water: there are others standing on the side with cups of water of which they may partake when necessary. We as believers are runners in the race, but likewise we are among those who are on the side lines with cups of water to give our brethren in their thirst as they also are running the race that is set before them. And let us not forget Phidippides, who amidst ‘running the race’ donned heavy armour and himself fought the oppressors. At onset, here are at least three things we are to be busy doing of which there should be no debate!
   “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only. . .For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. . .Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” Matt. 10:42a, 25;35,39b.  Should our response not be as our Brother Paul? “And I will gladly spend and be spent for you” II Cor. 12:15.
Running the Race - Getting a Second Wind.
     Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” Isaiah 40:28-31.
    Second wind: “the energy for a renewed effort to continue an undertaking” (Webster.)  It is widely known that one can get a renewed energy as he sees the goal or finish line. The encouragement is as a breath of fresh air in his nostrils. 
    The running of our race is not one of competition nor speed: it is more of an endurance race. It is contending with an adversary. It is putting on the armour. It is running the race, being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. “Yea. though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” As with Phidippides the terrain we run is very mountainous and rugged. It is not a race to be run by sight but by FAITH. It is looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith! Shall we not rightly say that Jesus completes our faith? Revelation 3:19 says that “times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”  
    Something puzzles me. Phidippides ran 140 miles each way to and from Athens to Sparta; then another 26 miles from Marathon to Athens: what did he do for food and water?  But be assured, in our running the race as Believers, we have with us the Everlasting Fountain of Living Water and the Bread of Life!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Anointing; the Abiding

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” I John 2:20. The words unction and anointing are basically the same: chrisma, chrio, to smear or rub with oil, i.e. (by implication) to consecrate to an office, an endowment of the Holy Spirit: anointing, unction. It is, if you please, a Hands On; as the rubbing with oil at the hands of a mother upon her newborn: is not the child warmed? Does he/she not know of the love, the intimacy being poured forth? The manifestation of the Father for His “little children” is exceedingly evident in I John!
It is now upon the eve of my seventieth birthday. I John 2:27 has been my one special verse which the Lord impressed upon my heart about 45 years ago. I know that most of you have such a verse - this is mine. It is at this time that I seem to be getting a green light: it’s time to write.
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” I John 2:27.
So - the Anointing is something, more specifically, Some One, that the Believer receives; this Anointing abides; this Anointing teaches; this Anointing is Truth; ye shall abide in the Anointing (and He in you.)

“It is part of our sinful infirmity that we are unable of ourselves to interpret God’s Word aright; but it is part of the gracious office of the Holy Spirit to guide believers into the truth, thereby enabling them to apprehend the Scriptures. This is a distinct and special operation of the Spirit on the minds of God’s people, whereby He communicates spiritual wisdom and light unto them, and which is necessary unto their discerning aright the mind of God in His Word, and also their laying hold of the heavenly things found therein. . .Here, then, is the first and most essential qualification for understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, namely a mind illuminated by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, Arthur W. Pink

“Arthur Pink, in his “Interpretation of the Scriptures” says we need to “Recognize the interrelation and mutual dependence of the Old and New Testaments:” And to “Observe the manner in which and the purpose for which the Old Testament is cited in the New.”
Here is but a sampling of what we find of our proposed study on Anointing and Abiding beginning in the Old Testament.
“And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations” Exodus 40:13-15. “And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons. . .and sanctified Aaron, and his sons” Lev. 8:30. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them” Lev. 8:10.
“put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him.”
But the teaching of an Anointing continues in the NT - “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh” Rom. 13:14. Notice, he who is anointed is likewise sanctified. Both anointing and sanctifying speak together of the setting apart of someone or some thing unto the Lord.
“their anointing . . an everlasting priesthood.” “Jesus Christ. . .the faithful witness. . .loved us, washed us from our sins in his own blood. . .hath made us kings and priests unto God” Heb 1;5,6. Make the comparison: we as anointed priests are clothed in the garment of the Righteousness of Christ; we are anointed by the Spirit with the Anointing oil and of the blood of Christ - that we may minister unto God in the priest’s office! How lightly we esteem our calling. Far more than merely thinking to “do good works,” we have a Divine office; we are ambassadors for Christ. II Cor. 5:20.
“and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.” Again, anointing and sanctifying are used together in that which is set apart unto Jehovah God. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” Rev.21:3. Is the Tabernacle not Christ Himself? And “all that was therein”: His people; their God.?

Sprinkling, anointing of the Anointing Spirit unto sanctifying and purging that one may in obedience serve, may abide in the living God.

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” Heb. 9:13-14. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” I Peter 1:2.
The Anointing Deliverer. A prophetic promise to Israel: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” Isa. 10:27. Then shall they come to Christ, for He declares, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light!” Does this not apply to every Believer?

The Anointing; the Abiding

“But the Comforter, [com fort, with strength] which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” John 14:26. And what is recorded for us immediately following?
“Every branch [that abideth] in me, [Abide] in me, and I [abide] in you, As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it [abide] in the vine; no more can ye, except ye [abide] in me. He that [abideth] in me, and I [abide] in him. . .If a man [abide] not, If ye [abide] in me, and my words [abide] in you, continue [abide] ye in my love, If ye keep my commandments, ye shall [abide] in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and [abide] in his love, These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain [abide] in you, I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go, and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain [abide]. John chapter 15.
“The same anointing teacheth you of all things“ vs. 27. “He will bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Consider the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; for that matter the entire New Testament - How were they written? Did the disciples and apostles religiously write journals, recording every word and detail? Or did CNN have a camera crew to document every episode? Who was there when God created the world? The prophets? No, there was no man, but the Eternal Spirit of God. He is the witness, the court appointed recorder. It is He who brought to remembrance all that God would have recorded in the Book.
This text verse though a blessed Promise and Comfort is seldom (and reluc-tantly) quoted, for there is one little phrase that is a thorn in the flesh to the average minister of the gospel: “and ye need not that any man teach you.” The explanation? “Well it doesn’t mean what it says, or appears to say. Has God not given us the prophets, the apostles, teachers and preachers to teach us?!?” Indeed He has - however, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son” I John 5:9.
If you have noticed, at times there are verses that seems to ‘stop short:’ a sentence that is not quite finished or completed. One that is obvious is found in Exodus chapter 32: Moses was praying after ascending back into the Mount, “And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and made them gods of gold. now if thou wilt forgive their sin¾; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” What if the KJV had it written, “and ye need not that any man teach you¾”
“and ye need not that any man teach you.” Or it could be rendered, “And ye need not the teachings of any man.” Man is tis, Gr. some or any person or object or source (things, divers.) This would include radio, TV, internet, books, etc.
Ye need not that any man teach you - teach you WHAT? I Timothy chapter one speaks of those who teach “fables; from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” I John 4:1.
We know in part; we see through a glass darkly. What mere man can teach you “of all things?” The verse begins, But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you - and the thought continues, “the same anointing teacheth you of all things.” “ye need not that any man teach you.” What man can declare himself to abide in you and teach you of all things? “And ye need not that any man teach you. They may give instruction to the intellect, they desire to teach the inner man; but only the indwelling Spirit can teach your heart TO abide in Him! “but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, [TO abide in Christ] and is truth and is no lie, ye shall abide in Him!” The Anointing is Truth and is no lie. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought [ our prayer life is regarded as an infirmity: God help us!] but the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8:26-27. In view of this, how very critical that the Anointing One abide in us (in no wise excluding the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.)
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I Peter 4:11.
“Now if any man build upon the foundation [Jesus Christ] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it” I Cor. 3:13. Shall our “works” be revealed as an attempt to impress the Lord with what we do [self]; or will they be made known that they were accomplished in willing obedience to the Anointing Spirit of God: wood, hay and stubble; or gold, silver and precious stones?
The oracles of God. Logos, logion. We are to seek the mind of God, which is revealed by the Anointing Spirit of God. Ye need not the teachings of man; that’s the negative. But you do need the teaching of the Anointing One.
Note: Divine oracles were given by means of the breastplate of the High Priest, in connection with the service of the Tabernacle, and the Sept, uses the associated word logeion in Ex.28:15, to describe the breastplate.” Vines’ Expository Dictionary.
Also, in regard to the breastplate: “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually” 28:29. Our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of life? Is Jesus Christ not our Great High Priest? Then our names are written on His breastplate - upon His heart!
One last thought: Remember in Luke chapter 11 and verse one: “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he was ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us TO pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Lord, teach us the manner in which to pray; vocal or silent, standing or on bowed knee, the location or place of prayer, the words with which we are to speak, etc.? What man, be he John or some other, could teach his followers to pray as could the Lord Jesus? Must learning TO pray not originate from within? Shall the ‘ears’ of the heart not hear the voice of God, be advised of His will, and respond thereby? Is it not the same Spirit that is the Anointing One, who both teaches us all things -TO abide in Christ and TO pray? And how shall we pray apart from the Abiding Presence of the Anointing?

How can one rightly teach that which he has not learned?
“A saving knowledge is not a knowledge of Divine things, but is a Divinely-imparted knowledge. It not only has God for its object, but God for its author.” A. W. Pink
The man of God: His teaching is a tool that is often used in the Hand of the Anointing Craftsman.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thou wilt keep him in PERFECT PEACE

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:3.4. “. . .O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early” Isaiah 26:8,9. (Perfect Peace is shalom, shalom; the concept being heightened by repetition, thus perfected. It is “peace, peace!”)
In a day of turmoil, when all around us seems to be in total confusion and chaos: What are we to do; to whom shall we turn for Peace? “Be careful [anxious, as many define it] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:6-7.
Notice the similarity of Old and New Testament. In both there is the Promise; in both the Provision: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace.” “The peace of God, which passeth understanding.” Whose mind is stayed on thee.” “shall keep your hearts and minds.” “the Lord. . .the Lord Jehovah.” “through Christ Jesus.”
BE CAREFUL! Three words in the Greek give us a three dimensional picture: merizo, to part, disunite, divide. merimna, (from merizo, the idea of distraction.) merimnao, to be anxious about. When one is distracted in any given situation, his attention is divided between two objects. He cannot rightly focus on both. Did not the Lord make our eyes to look in the same direction: not one to the right, the other to the left; one upward, one downward? Trying to focus on two objects at once may quickly draw one into a state of confusion, especially if you have a one track mind like me!
Many words have two or more definitions: consider merizo, to DISTRACT.
distract, (1) [Diversion] divert the mind or thoughts or attention, draw or lead away from, BEGUILE, lead astray. Further definition: amusement, pastime, drawing the mind in different directions, preoccupation, engrossment. From these, if left unguarded, may come fascination, a fixation, passion.
Eve was beguiled, distracted by the serpent, and we have the conversation between the two. But did Eve immediately partake of the forbidden fruit - or did she pass by the tree day after day, being intrigued by its beauty, becoming preoccupied, attempting to justify her actions (should she decide to eat of it’s fruit?) After all, in her eyes, it appeared to be good for food, it was pleasant to her eyes, and a tree to be desired! Eve became fascinated; she gained a passion for the tree. Many have speculated about the fruit: it was from an apple tree they say. One thing is certain: for Eve, at least, it was Passion Fruit!
Should one ask - why would you think that Eve might ‘pass by and gaze at the tree day after day . . .” I might ask, What makes you think that the serpent would attempt to beguile her only once, and no more? Was Jesus not tempted of the devil over and over when He was in the wilderness? And of Samson and Delilah: “Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, an wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.” “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; Thus he told her all his heart” Judges 16;6,16,17a. And you can recall the remainder of the story.
distract, (2) [Confusion] perplexity, abstraction, bewilder, complicate. Eve’s distraction drew her eyes from the Lord to the serpent and the Tree. On one hand she has heard the Voice of God saying, “Thou shalt not,” and the voice of the serpent saying, Oh go ahead! God does not really mean what He said! He’s just trying to withhold some good things from you! You deserve to eat of the tree: it’s your decision; do what pleases you! If what you do pleases you but is displeasing to God, in the final outcome you will find that it did not please you after all!
Sons and daughters of Adam and Eve: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Further, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Anything less is because we are distracted; we are not fixed on Him! There is a term for this condition: it’s called SIN. Anything less than loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind - is sin.

BE CAREFUL! The ‘care’ in careful has also a two fold meaning: (this useful information came from Webster’s Thesaurus.)
(1) [Careful conduct] heed, precaution, vigilance, watchfulness, diligence, oversight, attention: these are but a few. (These things are commendable and to be desired in our Christian walk.)
(2) [Worry] anxiety, distress, perplexity, fretfulness, stress, encumbrance, strain, load, pressure, vexation, fear, uneasiness, exasperation, misgiving, anguish, apprehension - and the list continues. (These may be avoided by prayer and supplication; and when they are, we can expect the peace of God which shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. As one has so aptly said, “pray without ceasing - or worry without ceasing!”)
We often hear (or perhaps may be found saying!) “I’m under a lot of pressure”, or ‘I’m greatly distressed” or “I’m rather depressed”, or “Under the circumstances. . .” We did not get these from scripture! Search your Bible! You will find none of these expressions (nor the words) recorded!
What a sad commentary for us as Christians. Your heavenly Father has not in His design and Eternal Purpose arranged for you to be “Under a lot of pressure,” nor to be “Under the circumstances.” But there is a recurring phrase that is to be found in over half of the books of the Bible. Look up the word LIFT, LIFTED, LIFTING in your concordance. You will find in every case the word UP following it. The very first occurrence is in Genesis 7:18, and involves a man named Noah and an ark: “And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth: and the ark [capsized and was torn asunder!] NO! “it went upon the face of the waters!” The previous verse tells us, “and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was LIFT UP above the earth.”
“And the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth” “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” John 12:32. Jesus walked upon [up on the face of] the water. Could He have sunk into its depths? Could the Ark with Noah and his family have capsized and sunk into the seas? Could God have shut him in; shut the door of the Ark, just to have the ark torn to bits and its passengers drown in the turbulence? Could the waters have done the same unto Christ Jesus, God’s established Ark of the Covenant, our Ark? No! The waters could only ‘bare Him up’, could do no less than ‘lift Him up above the earth!’ Can you imagine hearing Jesus say, “I’m under a lot of pressure!” or I’m distressed!” or “I’m depressed!” or “under the circumstances!”

But sadly it was not the case with our Brother Simon Peter: “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. . . And when Peter was come down out of the ship [he was down and out, but to be literally so in a moment] to go to Jesus.
How did Simon Peter walk on the water? As long as his mind was “stayed upon Thee” as long as he trusted the Lord, “the Lord Jehovah was his strength.” He walked, not in his own strength: he was LIFTED UP of the Lord. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid: and beginning to sink.” Two things happened: He saw the wind boisterous: he was distracted; his mind and thoughts and attention were diverted. The distraction caused, under the circumstances, anxiety, distress, he was under pressure; he became fearful, apprehensive, in anguish. James tells us “he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. . .A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. . .let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” James 1:6-8. But the Lord was faithful and gracious: He immediately stretched forth his hand and caught him. “Lord, save me, deliver me, lift me up out of this watery grave! How near was Jesus? Near enough to ‘immediately stretch forth his hand and catch him.’

“I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I. Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!

Jesus has walked upon the water! Can we hear an Amen from the Psalms? “Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” Psalm 93:2-4.
The floods have lifted up; a flood of men have lifted up their voices; their violent waves as the noise of many waters are lifted up against Him whose throne is established of old. Lift Him up upon the cross! “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3;14-15.
“The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. for the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” Isa. 50:5-7. It is the day of crucifixion. Jesus has set His face like a flint [the flint, a stone known for its hardness, used in the making of tools and weapons.] “I shall not be confounded.” His face was stayed toward the Father; He was not distracted. Therefore He was not confused, He was not perplexed; He was not bewildered. Can we not learn from His example? Some may ask, Could Jesus have sinned? Tell me now, how could one possibly sin when His face is fixed upon the Father, whose mind is stayed on Him; who is trusting Him? Even as Jesus cried, My God, why hast thou forsaken me, it was then, even as it had been all His life: Jesus was never distracted: He was not double minded; He was not unstable; He did not “serve God and mammon!” What of God the Father? Could He be distracted; therefore be confounded or confused? “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” James 1:17.
LOVE LIFTED ME! “I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined [natah, stretched forth] unto me, and heard my cry. He brought [alah, lift, raise, recover. restore] me UP also OUT of an horrible pit, OUT of the miry clay, [quicksand?] and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God:”
LIFT UP, as found in the Scriptures is identified with - eyes, (Gen. 13:14, 18:2. Deut. 3:27, 4:19, Psalm 121:1, 123:1, Isa. 40:26, 51:6, Ezek, 8:5, John 4:35.) face, (Num. 6:25, Job 11:15, 22:26, Psalm 24:6, Lam. 2:19.) head, (Gen. 40:13, Ezra 9:6, Job 10:15, Psalm 110:6.) hands, (Psalm 28:2, 63:4, 119:48, 134:2, Lam. 2:19, 3:41, Heb. 12:12.) heart, (Lam. 3:41.) soul, (Psalm 25:1, 86:4, 143:8,) feet, (Psalm 74:2.) voice, (Gen. 21:17, Job 38:34, Psalm 28:2, 93:3, Isa. 10:30, 24:14, 40:9, 52:8, 58:1.) countenance, (Num. 6:26, Psalm 4:6.) prayer, (II Kings 19:4, Isa. 37:4) Also - banner, (Isa. 13:2.) ensign, (Isa. 5:26.) standard, (Isa. 62:10.) to mention a few.

“Come Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.”
But, alas, we must join also with the author as he writes: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love .” And this will happen when we are distracted, when our focus is not totally on Christ. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” The world and its amusements will seek to draw us away, to fascinate us, to fix our hearts and minds on that which is not Jesus. My dear friend, if we are to have a Passion, may it be found anchored in our Lord Jesus Christ!
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.“
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord LIFT UP his countenance upon thee, and give thee PEACE.” Numbers 6:24-26.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Paul and Silas

Dear Paul and Silas,

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” Matt. 5:11.
Paul and Silas were exemplary in proving the soundness of this verse! Surely they were, and are, given to assure us that what was true for them is equally true for us. The early church endured much persecution and the reading or hearing of this particular event in the lives of these apostles would have been to them of no little comfort.

When Paul and Silas were in Philippi, a “certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination. . .followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show us the way of salvation” Acts 16:16,17. Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. As a result her “owners” lost their means of monetary gain and had Paul and Silas brought before the magistrates, who promptly had them thrown into prison. “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely. Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God. . .Acts 16:23- 25.
The Philippi Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in obtaining accommodations for Paul and Silas. Unfortunately, there were no rooms available at the Philippi Hilton, so other arrangements were made. The Lodge to which the Apostles were directed did not have a AAA rating. The room was not cleaned prior to their arrival. They were not given fresh towels and linen. The floor, rather than being carpeted, had an earthy feel to it. This establishment would not likely have passed a sanitation inspection. The local pest control company had not been there of late. There was neither a restaurant nor room service. The room did not have a balcony with picture window overlooking the city. The Host was lacking in kindness and courtesy. . .
An earthquake. . .the foundation of the prison shaken. . .the doors were opened. . . everyone’s bands were loosed. Everyone that is, but the jailor’s. No, his hands and feet were not shackled; he was not fastened in the stocks: he was bound by sin. And sin was just about finished with him. “And the keeper of the prison awakened out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” Acts 16:27,28.
The jailor called for a light and his darkened eyes were opened to the Truth of the Word. He cried, What must I do to be saved, and received the Word of reconciliation: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. And he fell before Paul and Silas receiving the Word of Deliverance; and the “ropes brake off his arm like a thread;” the chains were “plucked asunder” and the fetters were “broken in pieces.”
If we thoughtfully meditate upon the account given us concerning Paul and Silas while they were in Philippi, we shall without doubt be able to identify them as Peacemakers and Ministers of Reconciliation. They could most assuredly relate to the eighth Beatitude: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely. . .” They cast out an evil spirit from a fortune teller, and for that were laid upon and thrust before the magistrate by an angry mob. They were stripped, beaten, and then cast into the inner prison, their feet shacked. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: (most likely they were continuing that which was begun earlier.) They sang praises; a convincing evidence that they were at Peace with the Father, that they had approached Him in poverty of spirit, in mourning and meekness, hungering and thirsting after Righteousness; being reconciled to God, they desired that others might be also reconciled.
The response of the Father: a great earthquake, prison doors opened, everyone’s bands were loosed. Everyone that is, but the jailor: he was imprisoned by sin, held captive by its shackles.
Paul cried out, “Do thyself no harm.” But the jailor had done them much harm.
“We are all here.” None escaped, though opportunity was there to do so.
It would appear that the attention of the Apostles was not upon their freedom, but the loosing of the jailor, yet in his bonds.
The jailor called for a light, and his eyes were opened to the Truth of the Word.
He cried, What must I do to be saved, and received the word of reconciliation - Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord. And he fell in poverty of spirit, mourning his guilt and condemnation; he came in meekness and humility, owning himself as bankrupt and in need. He was forgiven. He was cleansed, he was reconciled to God. He became a Peacemaker. As a Peacemaker, he washed the Apostles stripes; he took them into his own house, he set meat before them; he rejoiced, believing, fellowshipping with Paul and Silas. He make peace with and was reconciled to the Apostles; but first peace and reconciliation had to be made with God.

The forgotten prisoners.

Have we been so caught up with the conversion of the Philippian jailor that we have overlooked the other prisoners in the jail house? (But our God is not forgetful, neither is He prone to overlook anything.) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: AND THE PRISONERS HEARD THEM. [Did the prisoners hear them by the hearing of the ear? Or did their song and prayer reach their hearts (via the Spirit of God?) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; [ Christ is the ONE FIRM FOUNDATION, but that which is earthly is said to have “foundations” these being subject to crumbling!] and immediately ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED, and EVERYONE’S BANDS WERE LOOSED. And the keeper of the prison [Jail House] awakening out of sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the PRISONERS HAD BEEN FLED. [Better to take his own life than to face the consequences when the magistrates found out that the prisoners had all fled.] But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for WE ARE ALL HERE. “We understand that it was not the purpose of God that the living might die, but that the DEAD might LIVE! “Then he called for a light [he being in darkness, had no light of his own] and sprang in, and came TREMBLING, and fell down before Paul and Silas.” He came trembling: entromos - it was a tremor, a quaking of his heart: the earth trembled and quaked, it’s foundations were shaken; so it was with the jailor. “The doors were opened, everyone’s bands were loosed, we are all here! Paul and Silas with the prisoners, the prisoners with Paul and Silas. The shackles were loosed, the doors opened - why were they still there! Could it be that there was an effectual calling, a restraining by the Holy Spirit? Is it the nature and practice of our Lord to break the physical bonds of men and refrain from breaking the shackles of sin for their deliverance? Were they loosed that they might be immediately bound again? “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” Why would it take two men to speak to one man? Or were they speaking to all the men, prisoners and jailor alike? The next verse answers it for us: “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” Did the jailor not have two ‘households?’ One where he lived (whether he had a wife and children we are not told - it is an assumption; it is speculation on our part.) But he did have another household - those who were abiding in the jail house. Notice, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” Where do we get the idea that they moved from that location, going down to his other house at midnight, waking his family so they might hear the gospel? What of the prisoners? Is he to leave them outside the jail house, they being now free of their shackles, trusting that they will stay put until he returns with Paul and Silas many hours later? And if they did not, it was to his peril. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized he and all his house [household] straightway.” [Most likely in the same water, the washing of stripes and the baptizing.] After all this was complete, THEN he brought them into his house, [as though they had not been there before] and set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Sometimes house, [literally or figuratively] means a household of individuals, sometimes, a dwelling place. (It is used four times in this passage.) Nevertheless, having two households, if there were those dwelling in both, the Lord would be true to His word: they would all be saved! (Though I personally believe that those initially baptized along with the jailor, were saved prisoners, now being made the prisoners of Christ! Question? Where does the Lord Jesus keep His prisoners? In Maximum Security!
“And when it was day, the magistrates sent to the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.” OK, let which men go: Paul and Silas only - or all the prisoners? Why, Paul and Silas only. The other prisoners would remain in custody. I firmly believe that during that night the jailor could have asked Paul concerning the prisoners and he would have said as before, WE ARE ALL HERE! The prisoners would have returned with the Apostles to their rightful place in the prison to fulfill the sentences of the magistrates; else the jailor would likely have forfeited his life. Now, if the jailor was saved and all his “household,” shall we not say that the jail house became a church, a “House of God;” a “Temple.” if you please! Look it up! oikos, dwelling, Lit. or fig., family, lit. or fig., house[-hold], temple. Can you imagine, in or out of jail, what an impact these fellows would have had in Philippi?
But then, much of Paul’s ministry was a Jail House ministry, was it not?!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Intercessory Prayer

A Meditation

We live in the finite; we live in our little world with our limited sight and our inabilities. God lives in the infinite: He is infinite! His world is without end. We look as far as we possibly can through the eye of the telescope: yet what of God’s unseen world? Who has beheld His Heavenly Masterpieces? And who can say that he knows the inner workings of the mind of God? We shall look at the mystery of Intercessory prayer. But who among us is capable of understanding and discerning it to any degree? I dare say that there have been many saints in days gone by who have prayed long and continual prayers of intercession who were not even familiar with the word. The discernment of intercessory prayer stems not so much from education as it does from meditation. Allow the Spirit to be your fellow/companion: He will be guide and director, counselor and tutor.

Intercessory prayer? It is a spiritual, an infinite matter. Earthly definitions fall short of comprehending its true meaning. It brings one into the courtyard of Heaven, even unto the Throne of Grace; into the Presence of the Eternal God.

Intercessory prayer is Heart Work. Complacency has no place, nor the attitude that it is my duty to pray in this manner: or perhaps God (or other people) will be impressed with my prayers. Fasting could be an ingredient; but the motivation is important: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. . .Bur thou, when thou fasteth, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” Matt. 6:16-18.

Intercessory prayer is heart work: “Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh to you. . .Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” James 4:8-10.

Pretence with God is futile: “And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8;27. Much praying will never reach the Throne of God if it is from the lips only and not from the depths of the heart wherein reigns the Lord Jesus.

What Intercessory prayer is NOT!

When a catastrophe comes the world is quick to say, “Our prayers are with you!” Are their prayers, prayers of intercession? Who is their “god?” Who, pray tell, is the object of their ‘faith’? “It is our prayers - not necessarily those offered to any god: but our prayers should count for something because they stem from a sincere heart! There is some magical strength in the prayer itself: it need not come from a god who may or may not exist.”

Praying in the name of Jesus? What a hot topic!

And it’s brought into the courts of our land with much dispute. What does the world find offensive about praying in the Name of Jesus? What do they not find offensive. . .? “To name the name of Jesus may be acceptable; after all he was a great man, a notable person. But praying in the name of Jesus? That’s like declaring him to be God or something! It is that which we find offensive!”

Intercessory prayers?

If one were to go through and catalogue all that are found in the scriptures, it would of itself make a sizeable book. Let us take a moment to meditate on three of them.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto his people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--;

[I can see Moses choked up; his heart in his throat: the words will not come out; though he cannot speak, he is now making intercession unto God in behalf of his people] and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” Exodus 32:30-32. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” Rev. 3:5.

Did you see that? Our names, not only sealed in the book of life, but Jesus will openly acknowledge and confess our names before the Father! Hallelujah!

Consider the Apostle Paul: a great ‘prayer warrior’ indeed! (I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” Rom. 9:2-3. What did we read in James chapter four? “Draw nigh unto God. . . Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. . .your joy to heaviness.”

Paul could wish himself accursed that his people might not be accursed: rather that they would receive the Blessing. Who can deny Paul’s tender heart and his continuing intercessory prayer for his kinsmen?

“Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. . and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came. . .” Rom. 9:4,5a. For these Christ came; that they might receive His promises: the Everlasting Covenant that God made in their behalf; being adopted, being made partakers of Christ’s glory.

Who are Israelites? (1) “as are led by the Spirit of God, (2) they are the sons of God, (3) they have received the Spirit of adoption, (4) The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit - we are the children of God, (5) heirs; heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, (6) that we may be also glorified together.

“I could wish myself accursed from Christ.” Why would Paul say such a thing? Is it not that Paul loved the Lord with all his heart, his soul, his mind; and the will and purpose of God being accomplished for His glory meant more to Paul than his own life? What could be the driving force to bring the Apostle to such devotion to his Lord? “That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable to His death” Philippians 3:10). Further he said. “I follow after, that I may apprehend, reaching forth, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The Intercession of Christ.

Not only does He make intercession for His people: He IS the Mediator and Intercessor!

“It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” Rom. 8:34. “He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom 8:27. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” Heb 7:25.

Christ could wish Himself accursed from God, that in His death we might be saved, being made the sons of God, receiving the adoption, being heirs of God, being made partakers of His glory.

The Intercessory Work of Christ on the Cross

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” This is a prayer of intercession, offered by Christ as Priest; He being the fulfillment of Leviticus chapter four “If a soul shall sin. . .if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance. . .when a ruler hath sinned. . .the congregation shall offer a young bullock. . .the elders shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord. . .the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood. . .sprinkle it before the Lord. . .and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. . .And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp.” Jesus, on the cross was both Priest and sacrifice. He being the fulfillment of Leviticus four could lawfully pray, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Heb. 13:11,12) Thank God for that intercessory prayer!

“Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren what shall we do?” Acts 2:36,37. “But ye denied the Holy One and the just. . .And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead. And now brethren, I wot [to know, be aware, understand] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers” Acts 3:14,15,17. (Through ignorance: drawing their minds back to the Leviticus scripture of the “sin of ignorance”)

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Should He not have preceded that prayer with, “Father, these men are exceeding great sinners, and I present their sin before Thee, as they are even now, crucifying Your Son!” NO! “Father, forgive them, for even now, their sins are laid upon Me: I bear upon my head, their sins and transgressions against the Lord Jehovah. Therefore when You look upon their sins, Thou will find them laid upon Me! They were crucifying the Lord of Glory? That very sin was laid on Him; Jesus paid it ALL!

“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise” Luke 23:42,43. Amazing! The thief recognizes Jesus as Lord; and though He should die He would be resurrected and assume His rightful office as King. The thief also dying, would be resurrected, for he says ‘remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.’

We must not end this segment without mentioning John chapter seventeen. It’s appropriately titled in most Bibles, The Prayer of Intercession.

“that they might know thee. . Thou gavest them me. . .I have given them Thy words. . .I pray for them; for thy are Thine. . .All mine are Thine. . .I am glorified in them. . .keep them through thine own name. . .that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. . .Sanctify them through thy truth. . .That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. . the glory which thou gavest me I have given them. . .that they may be made perfect in one. . .and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. . .that they be with me where I am. . .that they may behold my glory. . .that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” John 19:25,26. Many expositors capitalize Son. A duel picture can be seen here. Mary, look upon Me; and then upon John. I entrust you into his care. Jesus, having been her Son will now be her Saviour. Here again, see the work of Christ as Intercessor in a very personal way: the bringing together of Mary and John.

One of the most quoted scriptures in all the Bible: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Phil 4:19. It is by Christ Jesus: He is High Priest, He is Mediator, He is Intercessor. By and through the priestly work of intercession by Christ Jesus, God supplies our need. Christ has procured all we have need of by the effectual sacrifice of Himself on the cross. When we pray we may think “Unmerited Favor.” The intercessory work of Christ is much different! He “MERITS the FAVOR!”

O Lord God, look Thou upon the Mercy Seat. Is the Blood still there? Then He will acknowledge the desires/petitions of Christ in our behalf! Amen?

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

“one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray.” In answer to that disciple’s appeal Jesus laid out a pattern prayer for him. May we echo his request! If left to ourselves would we not pray in this manner: “My Father which art in heaven. . .give me [this week, this month, this year] my bread. . .deliver me from evil?

“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Matt. 18:19,20.

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” Matt. 6:6.

How do we reconcile these scriptures: “If two shall agree. . .it shall be done: Thou. . .enter into thy closet, shut the door, praying to the Father in secret? And it shall be done? We shall look further into this matter, but not right now!

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb. 4:14-16. Is it, that I may obtain mercy; that I may find grace for myself alone? What if we pray, Lord, I come to the throne of grace in an appeal for my Brother; that I might, through intercessory prayer, obtain mercy, and find grace in his behalf, in this, his time of need. Should it not be the primary, the principal focus of our prayers as we approach the Throne of Grace? Is this not what intercessory prayer is about? What if I prayed, Lord, if I am to receive your Blessing; if any reward is to be given me - would you give those to my Brother; and lay his heartaches, his grief, his burdens upon me. That would be a hard prayer to pray, would it not?

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8;26,27. What if we reverse the order, beginning with Romans 8:28: “According to His purpose, we are called; according to His purpose, we love God; according to His purpose, all things work together for good [for our good; for His glory]: according to His purpose, according to the will of God, He (Christ) maketh intercession for the saints. According to His purpose, knowing the mind of the Spirit, He searcheth the hearts. According to His purpose, the Spirit maketh intercession; according to His purpose, the Spirit helpeth our infirmities. And then we wonder that the scripture tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace? We come, not in or by ourselves; we have the Son and the Spirit simultaneously making intercession to the Father in our behalf!

“And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins” I John 2:1-2. Advocate, paraketos,

INTERCESSOR, also Comforter! Is it not comforting that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, has born our sins upon His own person, paid the debt for them in full, (our Mediator) and stands not before the Throne, as a lawyer of sorts, but sits upon the Throne with the Judge! Now that’s an Intercessor!

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. . .If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” John 14:13-14, 15:7.

Many times we receive a letter or a document, perhaps from the president or other official of a company or school, etc. At the bottom, the paper is signed by the originator; and beside it are the initials of another, showing that, though they may have drawn up the material, the authority and power belongs to the official who was responsible for its issue. Why pray in Jesus’ name? Thine is the kingdom, it is Thy will, Thy power, Thy glory that authenticates such a prayer! (Mine are the small initials beside His name.)

We are exhorted to come boldly to the throne of grace? Yes! And we come with the Spirit and Christ Himself as Intercessors in our behalf. What then, is our part; how are we to be intercessors in behalf of another? And how shall we hope to pray according to the will of God?

As Jesus is intercessor for us, let us with Him, enter into the prayer of intercession. We ask in the name of Jesus because He is our Priest, our Prayer Partner. Let us not merely pray TO our Lord - let us pray WITH HIM! Talk to the Lord, and listen as He talks to you. Pray together with Him, with unity of heart. Lord Jesus, you faithfully bear my burdens; what is on your heart? What burdens are you bearing that You would share with me? How would you have me pray?

The 120 who gathered in the upper room; that ‘continued with one accord in prayer and supplication’: was Jesus not praying also; interceding for them? They were in one accord. Was Christ not their Priest, their Prayer Partner? Were their hearts not bound to His, seeking the Father’s will and His glory?

If we come to Jesus desiring to intercede in behalf of others: if He is already entered into intercessory prayer - why would we think that He would not welcome us with open arms; to pray as One with Him? In light of this, may we enter into intercessory prayer with confidence and great assurance believing that not only ourselves; but our prayers are also secured in Him!

Returning to that earlier pair of scriptures: “if two of you shall agree. . .it shall be done: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet. . .pray to the Father in secret.” Now, if two shall agree: if you are in intercessory prayer with Jesus - that constitutes two, does it not!

Is it the will of God for you to pray? Would you pray willingly in intercession for the need of others? “I don’t think I can; I don’t have that kind of burden.” Then here is the first prayer that you should pray: “Oh Lord Jesus, I would be an intercessor; but I don’t have a burden: I cannot pray fervently.” Confess it to Him. And confess it again and again; until your heart is broken and you are grieved in spirit. “O Lord God, I confess, I have no burden.” Pray it until your prayer becomes fervent: Draw nigh unto God. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep, until your joy is turned into heaviness. Your first burden is that you have little or no burden. “O Lord, I have no burden.” Will He ignore your cry? Or do you think that He will grant you the burden for which you seek? Or will you realize that you have that burden, even while you pray? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you believe that? If you are forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness - The prayer of a righteous man availeth much!

If you now have a burden - what is it’s focus or object? You cannot have a self-contained burden. It must have an object. We pray in faith, Christ Himself being the Object of our faith. Therefore we must not pray with the circumstances as our focus, but the Lord.

The prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 29 and verse 13: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me.” “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” Isa. 6:5. ‘Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” Isa. 6:6,7. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon the Throne of Grace. He was greatly burdened: Woe is me! for I am undone. . .and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Notice the intercessory work of the Lord: the seraphim laid the live coal upon his mouth: “thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” Isaiah is burdened about himself? Yes! - but this amazes me - “I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Isaiah is confessing the sins of his people; he is burdened over them! He is an intercessor! “Lord, my heart is not pure; it is evidenced by my unclean lips. But my brethren are no different from me: they need your forgiveness and cleansing also! “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another” James 5:16.

Do you recall the account of Stephen? He being brought before the council, proceeded to speak to them concerning the history of unbelief of the children of Israel, and of their resistance to the Holy Spirit even at that present day. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. . .ran upon him. . .cast him out of the city, and stoned him with stones. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” Acts 7:54,57b,60. (He is looking into Heaven; he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God; he gave witness that he saw Him. Approaching boldly the Throne of Grace and his Intercessor, he himself became an intercessor with the Lord: Lay not this sin to their charge. “Do you mean that the Lord would have me to pray, make intercession for my enemy, for him who hates me, whose intention may be to snuff out my life? It would appear so.

One of the shortest, yet most profound prayers is that of Mary and Martha: “Lord, him whom THOU LOVEST is sick. Notice, Jesus is the object; He is to be found between the sisters and Lazarus. They are intercessors for Lazarus, but they are “looking unto Jesus” the great Intercessor.

Who you pray for; What you pray; When you pray; Where you pray, How you pray; and Why you pray: this is a spiritual matter, and you, by all means, should seek the will of God, seek the face of Jesus Christ, and come before the Throne of Grace in lowliness of mind and openness of heart. When you pray do not think it is to an unsympathetic ear. Jesus is “an High Priest” who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” “He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” Rom. 8;27b.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty: And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” I Corinthians 1:27,28.