Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God's Line is Never Busy

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

Telephone calls used to be routed by operators, manually connecting circuits at a switchboard--plugging and unplugging wires all day long to keep conversations going. Today, think how many millions of calls are handled by computerized routers every second of the day. Better yet, imagine how many countless prayer "calls" God receives every moment from all over the world.

It would be easy to be dissuaded from praying by thinking of our individual prayer requests getting lost amidst the millions God hears. Yet we are exhorted to "let [our] requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6), and to do so boldly (Hebrews 4:16). King David did (countless times in Psalms), and so did the apostle Paul--the same request three different times! (2 Corinthians 12:7-8) They didn't feel bad or guilty for continually asking God for help, nor should we. In fact, not to pray is to portray God as less than He is--a generous Father (Luke 11:11-13).

If you are in a stressful place today, stop now and tell God. Because ultimately He is the answer to our prayers, meeting with Him is the beginning of your answer.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 92:1

On this day of Thanksgiving in America, Scripture gives us yet another new perspective: " It is good to give thanks to the Lord" (Psalm 92:1; italics added). Why is it good to give thanks? The author of Psalm 92 cites God's deeds and works as reasons to praise Him--all perfectly legitimate. As we look around the table today, we can find plenty of tangible reasons to give thanks to God.

But another reason it's good to thank the Lord is because of what thanksgiving does in us: Thanksgiving makes us grateful, and gratitude is a good thing. While the official Thanksgiving Day is a worthy celebration, every day is a day to give thanks to God. And when we give thanks to Him daily, we are reminded daily that gratitude is a pleasing attribute. It is good to live as grateful people. And the physical, verbal act of saying "Thank You, Lord" keeps us on a grateful path. We become people who give thanks "in everything" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coming to the Throne of Grace (Part Three)

A Person
Then too, we learn from Hebrews 4:16 that a Person is waiting to meet and greet us at the throne of grace. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from the guilt and penalty of our sins. Four times in this epistle to the Hebrews it is stated that He is at the right hand of the throne of God (1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). In another favorite portion of this same epistle, we are shown His three appearings: He did appear to redeem us (9:26); He now appears to represent us (9:24); and He will appear to reward us (9:28). The teaching in Hebrews about the continuing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ is precious indeed. His work in redeeming us is completed. His work in representing us continues. The one Person who is capable of meeting our total needs is now at the right hand of the throne of God. Let us come to Christ. The Bible tells us of three ways He works in our behalf.

He meets our need through His prayers. In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul asked: Who is he that condemneth? 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 (Romans 8:34). Christ is not condemning us; He is interceding for us. The author of Hebrews wrote, "He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, let us come.

He meets our needs by His power. The throne of grace is the place of power, and our Lord Jesus Christ is the person of power. We see "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:19-20). Christ has an ability that knows no inability. Yes, He is able! He is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24). He is able to help those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). He is able to subdue all things (Philippians 3:21).

He meets our needs through His priesthood. While it is true that priesthood is as old as man, let us never lose sight of the fact that it is an institution of God. In Old Testament times the ministry of the priest was to appear before God in behalf of the children of Israel. This divine provision was an expression of the gracious compassion and concern of a holy God for His children. The priest was the Father's consecrated link between Himself and His own.
None but the Son of God Himself would qualify to be the great High Priest over the house of God.
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. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
Aaron's sons were priests; Aaron himself was a high priest; only the Lord Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest.

We know where He is--"passed into the heavens." We know who He is--"Jesus the Son of God." We know what He is--sinless. He is a sympathetic high priest. He does not sympathize with our sins but with our "infirmities." These infirmities are the sorrows, the sufferings, the sicknesses of this life. We know that our great High Priest is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
If you are in need, come to Him now. No problem is too tough, no petition too trifling, and no power too transcendent for Him to handle. Let there be no lack of confidence between you and your great High Priest. He knows you. He loves you. He is waiting now for you to come to Him in your time of need.

Do not delay in coming to God's throne of grace.

Coming to the Throne of Grace (Part Two)

A Purpose
Hebrews 4:16 also teaches that there is a purpose for our coming to the throne of grace. And what is that purpose? ". . . that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Mercy is one of our primary needs because of our sins and failures. Our Heavenly Father is "the Father of mercies" (2 Corinthians 1:3), and He is "rich in mercy" (Ephesians 2:4). God's attitude toward those of His children who are in distress is one of mercy, pity, and compassion. In time of need we all appreciate someone who can empathize and sympathize with us. Will our loving God, who was merciful in saving us (Titus 3:5), be less merciful now that we are His children? Of course not!

Then let us go to Him with confidence and tell Him all about our need.
There are times when "we know not what we should pray for" (Romans 8:26). It is possible that you do not know what your needs are. But our Lord assures us that "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matthew 6:8). See also Matthew 6:32.

A further purpose for our coming to the throne of grace is "to find grace to help." Mercy is for those failures of the past and grace is for the present hour of need.
The apostle Paul appeared before the throne of grace when he was suffering from his thorn in the flesh. Three times he asked God to remove this infirmity. But that was not what he needed. If he was suffering pain at that moment, it was perfectly natural for him to pray for relief from the discomfort. But at that moment of need he received this assuring word from the Lord: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Lord did not heal Paul, nor did He remove his discomfort at that time. But it was there--at the throne of grace--that he discovered the infinite, inexhaustible resource of God's grace. There he found grace for timely help. And that grace is available to you and me. "Let us therefore come boldly."

Coming to the Throne of Grace (Part One)

"Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). Is today a time of need for you? Here is a text which promises some very special help. Many of God's children have put it to the test and found that it works.

A Place
This verse tells us first of all that we have a place we can go in time of need. That place is God's throne of grace. This throne is unusual and different in that judgment does not issue from it. At a future time there will appear "a great white throne" from which God will judge all who have rejected His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But none of God's children will appear before that throne, for all who stand before Him in that day will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-15). During the present dispensation of grace, however, God's throne is "the throne of grace."

Beloved Christian, are you acquainted with this place? When did you last appear before the throne of grace? Our text says, "Let us come." Your burdens can be lifted. Right now there can be a fresh awareness of God's grace and mercy in your life, come to this wonderful place provided for you called the Throne of Grace.

A Procedure
Our text then tells us that there is a procedure for coming to the throne of grace. We are to come "boldly." We dare not be brash or brazen, nor need we be bashful. We are urged to come "boldly." This word boldly means "confidently." We can speak freely and frankly to our Heavenly Father.

The high priest in Israel could enter the holy of holies only once a year, and then he had to stand silently before God. But something wonderful happened when Christ died on the cross. "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51). The believer in Christ now has access to what was once the place of exclusion. The apostle Paul declared that all of God's justified ones "have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (Romans 5:2).

We must never be shy about coming to this blessed place. We don't ever need to hesitate to tell God exactly what our need is. There are times when it is good for us to remain silent, but our time of need is not one of them. We are instructed to come boldly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What does it mean to pray in Jesus' name?

Prayer in Jesus’ name is taught in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Some misapply this verse, thinking that saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer results in God’s always granting what is asked for. This is essentially treating the words “in Jesus’ name” as a magic formula. This is absolutely unbiblical.

Praying in Jesus’ name means praying with His authority and asking God the Father to act upon our prayers because we come in the name of His Son, Jesus. Praying in Jesus' name means the same thing as praying according to the will of God, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that will honor and glorify Jesus.

Saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer is not a magic formula. If what we ask for or say in prayer is not for God’s glory and according to His will, saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless. Genuinely praying in Jesus' name and for His glory is what is important, not attaching certain words to the end of a prayer. It is not the words in the prayer that matter, but the purpose behind the prayer. Praying for things that are in agreement with God’s will is the essence of praying in Jesus’ name.

In His Sovereign Hands

Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Psalm 115:3

God is sovereign. This means that He is the surpreme Ruler of the universe, and that He can do as He pleases. And because God is also righteous, what ever He pleases is perfect and always right. The Lord declares through the prophet Isaiah, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Is. 46:10). After Nebuchadnezar was chastened by the Lord he proclaimed, "He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done?'" (Dan. 4:35). In Romans 9:20, Paul reminds us that we have no right to question God's action, "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, Why have you made me like this?" The apostle also declares God to be Him "who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11).

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah both speak of God as the Master Potter ( Is. 29:16, 45:9, 64:8, Jer. 18:6). If He is the Potter and He is, then you and I are the clay! He has rights to us by creation and by redemption. We ought to submit ourselves to Him in every circumstance, never doubting His care, concern and love for the vessel that He is forming. The truth of His sovereignity in my life allows Him to mold me as He sees fit, never questioning His decisions!

The doctrine of His soveregnity also comforts us during those times when pressure is being applied, knowing that since He is the Surpreme Ruler, He is working out His purposes and they will reach their desired end. He has begun the work on His vessel and will complete it (Phil. 1:6). My responsiblity is to be pliable in His hands.

Christ Our Hope (Part six)

WE appreciate Him being our Hope, and we have a hearty and joyful reception of Him in this relationship. The dethroning of self, the utter denial and rejection of self, is essential to the enthroning and crowning of Christ in our inner man. When Christ is clearly seen to be the only hope of our soul, and when He is spiritually received in this relation, the soul learns habitually and constantly to lean upon Him, to rest in Him, and makes no efforts without Him.

Psalm 16:9 "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in Hope."

Psalm 33:18 "Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy"

Psalm 119:81 "My soul fainteth for Thy salvation: but I hope in Thy Word."

Romans 8:10 "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."

Galatians 5:24 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."

Romans 6:4 "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

Romans 6:5 "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection"

Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our LORD Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me."

Psalm 39:7 "And now, LORD, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee."

Psalm 71:14 "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise Thee more and more."

Revelation 1:5-6 "And from Jesus Christ ... the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."

Christ Our Hope (Part Five)

WE know the revelation of Christ Jesus to our souls, as our Hope, by the working of His Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 "But the Comforter, 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 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me"

John 16:13 "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth"

Philippians 3:21 "according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."

WE recognize Him to be the One that dwells in us, and is received by faith to be the Supreme Control of our souls.

1 John 3:24 "And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us."

John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."

2 Corinthians 5:15 "And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again."

John 14:15 "If ye love Me, keep My commandments."

2 Corinthians 6:16 "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

Ephesians 3:17 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love"

Revelation 21:3 "And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, 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."

1 John 4:13 "Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit."

1 John 2:6 "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked."

John 13:15 "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."

John 15:10 "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."

Christ Our Hope (Part Four)

WE have absolutely no hope from any other source.

Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

John 5:41 "I receive not honour from men."

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."

John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."

Psalm 39:7 "And now, LORD, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee."

Psalm 78:7 "That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments"

Psalm 147:11 "The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy."

John 5:44 "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?"

1 Thessalonians 2:6 "Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others"

John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

1 John 5:12 "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."

Christ Or Hope (Part three)

WITH such a knowledge of our circumstances, we know the temptation of fighting our own battles, and the fruitless effort of making, in the least degree, any headway against our spiritual foes. We know, that in our own wisdom and strength, we have no expectation of pleasing God in any respect, and thus, we have no expectation of really being a Christian.

John 7:18 "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him."

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."

Jeremiah 9:23-24 "Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."

Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags"

Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Psalm 127:1 "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

Psalm 60:11 "Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man."

1 Corinthians 3:20 "And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain."

1 Corinthians 1:20 "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"

Romans 1:22 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools"

Christ Our Hope (Part Two)

WE know, with such a perception of our spiritual bondage to sin, that without Him, all hope of salvation is extinguished, and that we cannot exist as a Christian without His constant influence and strength to keep us from sinning.
Jude 1:24 "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."

Romans 16:25 "Now to Him that is of power to stablish you"

Romans 14:4 "Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."

Ephesians 3:20 "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the Power that worketh in us"

Ephesians 5:26-27 "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

Colossians 3:4 "When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

2 Timothy 4:18 "And the LORD shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom"

Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now the God of peace ... make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ"

Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

1 Peter 5:10 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus ... make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

1 Thessalonians 5:23 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

John 17:17 "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth."

1 Peter 1:5 "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation"

Romans 5:21 "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

1 John 3:8 "He that committeth sin is of the devil ... For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

Christ Our Hope (Part One)

Our only rational expectation is from Him. Christ in us is our Hope of glory. Without Christ in us, we have no good or well-grounded hope of glory. Christ in the Gospel, Christ on the cross, Christ risen, Christ in Heaven, all is hope, of an external type, to the believer; but Christ in us, Christ actually present, living, and reigning in us, as really as He lives and reigns in glory, is the only bedrock and only well-grounded Hope a real Christian has.

We cannot stress this too much. The soul that does not know, and Spiritually know, Christ in this relation has absolutely no well-grounded hope. He may hope that he is a Christian. He may hope that his sins are forgiven, that he shall be saved. But he can have no good hope of glory. It cannot be too fully understood, or too deeply realized, that absolute despair of help and salvation in any other possible way, except by Christ in us, is an unalterable condition of our knowing and embracing Christ as our Hope.

Many seem to have conceived of Christ as their hope only in His outward relation, that is, as an atoning Savior, as a risen and ascended Savior, but also as a factual, historical, concrete statistic. The indispensable necessity of having Christ within them, ruling in their hearts and establishing His government over their whole being, is a condition of salvation of which they have not thought. Christ cannot be truly and savingly our hope, in any degree further than He is received into, and reigns, in our souls. To hope in merely an outward Christ is to hope in vain.

To hope in Christ with true Christian hope implies:

a. WE know the full spiritual image of our hopeless condition without Him. It implies an understanding of our sins, as to annihilate all hope of salvation concerning the demands of the Law of God.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death."

Romans 6:21 "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."

Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

Romans 1:32 "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

God Cares for You

For the LORD your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:4

Do you remember the miracle God performed when He brought the Israelites through the Red Sea, when they were being hunted down by Pharaoh’s army? It was incredible. What happened three days later? The Israelites began grumbling because there was no water! Do you think God would invest such a miraculous deliverance in them, then abandon them just days later? Absolutely not! But what happens to us when we are down in the dumps and wondering where God is taking us? We become just like the Israelites!

And yet God did something more for you than He did for them! He sent His precious and only Son to die on Calvary's tree for you. God redeemed you. More than God bringing you out of a watery grave, He delivered you from eternal damnation into glorious communion with Him forever! God saved you! What more could you possibly want?

Are you down in the dumps today? Do you feel like the victim of a bad situation? Do you feel like God has abandoned you? Then write down Deuteronomy 20:4 on a piece of paper and meditate on it until you believe it.