87. Actually…like never before.

We have talked about new things before. New as in new of something that existed before like a new pencil or new shoes and new as in completely unique coming into existence for the first time. God is in the business of new things. Create is the powerful verb accompanying anything new. God is creator; He makes new, also new people. He takes the most vile and evil mess and restores it to a beautiful, new creation with a unique place in this world.

I am always overawed at the thought of a new beginning. How does this world need it! How many times do we see a life going horribly wrong, when superficial ideas of pleasure and success cause fundamentally wrong decisions. In the darkness of the consequences of transgression a cry for help echoes through the universe and the God of new beginnings steps in.

This glorious Creator-God became a person to live in the dust of this earth to heal and restore His own. John says it this way:

 1:14 So the Word of God became a person, and took up his abode in our being, full of grace and truth; and we looked with our own eyes upon his glory, glory like the glory which an only son receives from a father.

This statement is the core of this whole Fourth Gospel:

“This word which created the world, this reason which controls the order of the world, has become a person and with our own eyes we saw him.”  In other words, we saw God with actual physical sight.

This is where John parted with all thought which had gone before him. This was the entirely new thing, which John brought to the Greek world for which he was writing. Augustine afterwards said that in his pre-Christian days he had read and studied the great pagan philosophers and had read many things, but he had never read that the word became flesh.

To the Greeks this was impossible – a god could never become a man. The world and the physical were so corrupted; God could not even come close.

 John states a shockingly new thing: that God could and would become a human person; that God could enter into this life that we live; that eternity could appear in time; that somehow the Creator could appear in creation in such a way that men’s eyes could actually see him. Paul uses the word FLESH again and again to describe human nature in all its weakness and in all its liability to sin. The very thought of taking this word and applying it to God, was something astonishing.

Some said Jesus was a phantom, not really a man experiencing cold and hunger. So strong was this notion that it became a sect. John deals with them in his first epistle.

In Jesus we see God living life, as he would have lived it if he had been a man. If nothing else were said about Jesus we could still say that he shows us how God would live this life that we have to live.

John states it in classic Hebrew style: the concept is repeated slightly different for impact and emphasis.

It is said that this is the greatest single verse in the New Testament. It contains the most important words of the Gospel: Grace and Truth.

GRACE:

 

  • is defined as completely undeserved, something that we could never have earned or achieved for ourselves, an act of pure love on the part of God, helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God. It is in essence the unmerited favour of God to us.
  • also means beauty. In modern Greek the same word means charm. In Jesus we see the sheer loveliness of God.

Grace explains God reaching out to man. Grace does not ask reciprocation. Grace acts willingly and one-sidedly.

Just in the following verses John expands this concept of unending grace. John 1:15 talks about grace for grace or grace upon grace to indicate one wonder leading to another. There is always greater, more and lovelier available. Great music, art and poetry have no end. God is infinitely more than everything we know and the longer we live, the more we discover about Him. He is limitless wonder.

He supplies all the grace you might need in days of adversity and days of ease. Grace is dynamic and always sufficient, able to deal with everything. God is the lover of the souls of men. Maybe it was not so clearly experienced in the Law, but now, in Jesus there is no doubt.

 

TRUTH:

Lovers of wisdom (philosophers) have searched for Truth over many centuries. How can it be certain? To what could it be compared? How is it measured?

According to Wikipedia Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or standard. How does one determine the fact or reality and how does one establish the original or standard?

Jesus said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). To see truth we must look at Jesus. He is accessible to every mind. Very few people can grasp abstract ideas; most people think in pictures. It is difficult to define beauty, but we can point to a beautiful person or object and say that is beauty. We can look at Jesus Christ and say: “That is what God is like.” We can look to Him and know what is true.

Jesus did not come to talk to men about God; he came to show men what God is like, so that the simplest mind might know him as intimately as the mind of the greatest philosopher.

Jesus communicates truth, because He knows the truth (John 8:31) He witnesses to the truth (John 18:37), because He is the original, the standard. Jesus shows us the right way and enables us to choose right. His Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit helps us to not just read the Bible and know it is true, but to let the truth live within us.

It is the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32). To tell a child what he is really like, is to liberate him and to give him confidence. The enemy lies to us about ourselves and robs us of thinking right, in order to let fear establish our thoughts and determine our lives.

Truth can be resented. Jesus was killed for it (John 8:40).

 No man ever destroyed the truth by refusing to listen.

The truth can be disbelieved (John 8:45). Many people do not believe in Jesus because it seems too good to be true; or because they are so chained to their half-truths that they will not let them go. In many instances a half-truth is the worst enemy of the truth.

Truth is not something abstract; it must be done (John 3:21). It must be known with the mind, accepted with the heart, and acted out in the life.

To live the Jesus life by His grace is true living.

It is our new beginning, even after the brokenness of this world brought us tragedy and disaster.

 

 

 

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86. Homecoming discord.

The movies do it so well. It amazes me how film can express the awkward, emotional moments that portray the stress of discord in a relationship so vividly that I sit there with a knot in my stomach. A long lost brother coming home for a special occasion, either a funeral or a wedding, puts one on the edge of the seat, feeling the pain of uncertainty and wasted years.

We are children of God. Jesus is God’s son. He is our eldest brother through whom our world came into being. John writes of the grief of being made unwelcome in His great homecoming mission.

1:10-11 He was in the world, and, although the world came into being through him, the world did not recognize him. It was into his own home that he came, and his own people did not welcome him.

If men had only had the sense to see him, the Logos was always recognizable in the universe.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…   (Romans 1:20)

The world has been made to lead men to God. Creation and circumstances are so orchestrated to make men feel the void in their souls for the love that is calling out to them.

Theology has always made a distinction between natural theology and revealed theology. Revealed theology deals with the truth that comes directly from God through the prophets, the Bible, and through Jesus Christ. Natural theology deals with the truth that man could discover by the exercise of his own mind and intellect on the world in which he lives. How can we see God’s word, God’s reason, God’s mind (logos) in the world in which we live?

Revelation knowledge is the wonder of hearing our Saviour speaks through the written Word. It is the voice of conviction in our mind that directs our decisions and establishes our thoughts on the right path for our lives.

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

For this, the greatest blessing on our earthly living, we study and pray.

We pray for insight into our world. We can only truly see when we see with Holy Spirit eyes. We look at the universe outwards. Basic Greek thought dictated that where there is order there must be a mind. The world has amazing order. The planets keep to their appointed courses. The tides observe their appointed times. Seed times and harvest, summer and winter, day and night come according to their appointed times (Genesis 11:22). Clearly there is order in nature, and, therefore, equally clearly there must be a mind behind it all. It is a superior mind, far beyond the mind of man.

We look at the universe upwards: Astronomers tell us that there are as many stars as there are grains of sand upon the seashore. Man can calculate precisely when and where an eclipse of the sun will happen hundreds of years from now, and to the second how long it will last. It has been said, “no astronomer can be an atheist.” When we look upwards we see God.

We look at our world inwards: Where did we get the power to think, to reason and to know? Where did we get our knowledge of right and of wrong? Where do remorse and regret and the sense of guilt come from? Why can we never do what we like and be at peace? No man can explain himself apart from God.

We look at our universe backwards: our whole of history is a demonstration of the moral law in action. Empires rise and collapse according to the pattern of moral degeneration.

Israel was specially God’s land and the Jews were specially God’s people. The Jewish nation is called God’s peculiar treasure (Exodus 19:5; Psalms 135:4). The door should have been wide open for Jesus, but he was rejected. The people were being prepared for a task over centuries and then they refused the task.

Today, so many people refuse the task God has for them. It is one of the reasons for discord in our lives.

What is God’s task for you now? Are you unhappy with your circumstances? Think carefully. God has a task for you. Are you refusing it?

The fact remains that God is preparing us by all the experiences of life for something; and many refuse the task when it comes and never even realize that they are refusing it.

1:12-13: To all those who did receive him, to those who believe in his   name, he gave the right to become the children of God. These were born not of blood, nor of any human impulse, nor of any man’s will, but their birth was of God.

A man is not naturally a child of God. He has to become a child of God. You could be in the classroom, even attending lectures, but it doesn’t make you a student. As one preacher said: sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car, sitting in a church doesn’t make you a Christian.

Man can only enter into friendship with God when God himself opens the way. We accept the life God offers through believing in the name of Jesus Christ.

Life is tough and we often do not feel full of faith, victoriously conquering evil and pushing back the power of darkness. We need to constantly surrender our feeling of weakness and defeat. In Jesus we can never be defeated. We will triumph over the most destructive circumstances imaginable, when we fully rely on the promised strength of Jesus.

We are promised so much in the powerful name of Jesus. Jewish thought named a person to portray his nature.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10).

We will put our trust in God because we know what he is like. We see in Jesus what God is like. We become children of God by what Jesus is and that opens up the possibility of becoming children of God. Maybe it is good that you feel weak and not able to do anything by yourself…go ahead – ask.

 

85. Word, Light, World, Darkness.

We have said it already. It is written in the volumes of history. His words stand firm and unchallenged.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,

“I am the light of the world.

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Many people have come and gone, claiming to be God, to be the Messiah, to bring salvation, healing, meaning to life and other benefits. Just Google the list of Messiah-claimants in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – it is long and tiresome. None of those names have endured even a fraction of the time that the name of Jesus has.

No-one in the history of all mankind has ever said: I am the light of the world.

The word light occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than twenty-one times. Jesus is the light of men. The calling of John the Baptist was to point men to that light which was in Christ. Twice Jesus calls himself the light of the world (John 8:12, John 9:5).

This light can be in men (John 11:10), so that they can become children of the light (John 12:36), “I have come,” said Jesus, “as light into the world” (John 12:46).

  • Jesus brings the light, which puts chaos to flight. He is the one person who can save life from becoming chaos.
  • Jesus brings light, which shows things as they are. It strips away the disguises and concealments. It shows people and circumstances in their true character and values. It is light that reveals truth.
  • Jesus brings guiding light – a light that brings certainty and confidence. Doubt and confusion flee when He is crowned the King of your life.

Darkness in the world is as real as the light (John 1:5).

The unconquerable light will in the end defeat the hostile dark. John is saying: “Choose your side in the eternal conflict and choose right.”

It is men whose deeds are evil who fear the light (John 3:19-20). The man who has something to hide loves darkness. Darkness is used symbolically. It also indicates blindness. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

Without Jesus Christ a man cannot find or see direction for his life.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came, while it was still dark, John writes in John 20:1. He describes the atmosphere before the news of the resurrection as dark to contrast the magnificence of life.

He tells how Judas dipped his hand in the bowl with Jesus and then went out to do his dark work.  Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night. (John 13:30).

Although men through all the ages did all they could to obscure and extinguish the light of God in Christ, they could not quench it. In every generation the light of Christ still shines in spite of the efforts of men to extinguish the flame.

Darkness will never win. Darkness might be symbolical, but you cannot hide from God. God is also in the darkness. Wherever you may find yourself and may feel it is too dark, too evil, too far away from light – God is there to hear you cry.

 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)

Within the first five verses of this Gospel we see a culmination of every philosophy, every concept of deity, every confusion of thought as well as logical thought plus all the Roman, Greek, Persian and Egyptian models of gods and their functioning. John states the boldest statement in all of history – Jesus is the One everything points to and the answer to every possible question and argument ever.

John the Baptist was witness to the Light, just as we are witnesses, not the light itself. (John 1:6-8)

For 400 years the prophetic voice was silent until John the Baptist. It seems that certain people were so fascinated by John that they gave him a higher place than he ought to have had.

John denies that he is first and declares that he must decrease while Jesus increased (John 3:25-30). Jesus was more successful in his appeal to men than John was (John 4:1). The people said that John was not able to do the things that Jesus did (John 10:41).

This Gospel warns greatly against the following of a mere man, instead of following the risen Christ. The true prophet will always point to Jesus. He emphasizes that John the Baptist was only a witness.

We know Jesus is the Christ by various witnesses. There is the:

  • witness of Jesus himself. “I bear witness,” he said, “to myself” (John 8:18). “My testimony is true” (John 8:14).What Jesus was in himself was the best witness that his claims were true.

 

  • witness of his works. He said: “The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish … bear me witness” (John 5:36).

“Believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). One of the condemnations of men is that they have seen his works, and have not believed (John 15:24). No man could have done the mighty works that Jesus did unless he was closer to God than any other man ever was.

 

  • witness which the Scriptures bear to him. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me” (John 5:39). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). It is Philip’s conviction that he has found him of whom Moses and the law and the prophets wrote (John 1:45).

 

  • witness of the last of the prophets, John the Baptist. “He came for testimony to bear witness to the light” (John 1:7-8).

 

  • witness of those with whom Jesus came into contact. The woman of Samaria bore witness to the insight and to the power of Jesus (John 4:39). The man born blind bore witness to his healing power (John 9:25;John 9:38). The people who witnessed his miracles told of their awe at the things he did (John 12:17).

 

  • witness of the disciples and especially of the writer of the gospel himself it was Jesus’ commission to his disciples: “You also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:27). And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth” (1 John 5:7). Spirit brought God’s truth to men, and the Spirit enabled men to recognize that truth when they saw it.

For us: God will always give us confirmation with a witness. Be aware of unconfirmed prophecy. God will show you. His path is not darkness and uncertainty.

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

There are two Greek words for true: alethes and alethinos. The first one means true as opposed to false and the second one means real as opposed to unreal. He uses the second as it is explained: answering to the perfect ideal, and as opposed to all more or less imperfect representations. [Ellicott].

John states his case like a lawyer so that there is no doubt who Jesus is.

There are partial lights and there are false lights; and men follow them. Jesus is the only genuine light, the real light to guide men on their way. Jesus is the dawn in a dark world.

Knowledge of Him could drive away the shadows of doubt. By His coming the people could know God; a mystery no more. When Jesus came men saw what God is like. The guessing was over. The light had come.

A new power came into life. It was the answer to despair. Jesus showed the right way and how to walk in it. The way was made clear. He made the impossible possible.

The darkness and terror of death was engulfed in His promise of life eternal. The ancient world feared death; it was torture by whatever gods there were. Jesus showed that death was only the way to a larger life.

The ancient world was exclusive. The Jew hated the Gentile and held that Gentiles were created for no other purpose than to be fuel for the fires of hell. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, saw that Israel’s destiny was to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6). The Romans feared Christianity because it robbed them of their exclusiveness.

Our world in confusion and strife has only one solution – to believe in Jesus and be united in love. Any other unity and peace are impossible.

Jesus as a man and His doctrine were unique and a welcome relief from the terrifying uncertainty of ancient gods and the search for knowledge of the mysteries of life.

Where is He today? He is the guiding light, the only source of peace and truth. He is real life. He is victory over the darkness.

By grace and the cross – He is mine! Have you made the step into life – true Life?

 

 

 

84. There is a man.

St Augustine said in everything he ever knew about the world, everything he read and regarded as worth studying, he had never heard of a word becoming a man. It is exactly what John conveys in the first chapter of his Gospel. The mind of God is spoken into life with a body.

It is John’s great thought that Jesus is none other than God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving word. Jesus is the power of God, which created the world and the reason of God, which sustains the world. It is God Himself coming to earth in human and bodily form. John was thinking of what is known as the pre-existence of Christ. (John 1:1-2)

If the word was with God before time began, if God’s word is part of the eternal scheme of things, it means that God was always like Jesus. We think differently of the God of the Old Testament than of Jesus and His loving ministry on earth. We might even think Jesus changed God’s anger into love and altered his attitude to men. The New Testament knows nothing of that idea. The whole New Testament tells us, that God has always been like Jesus.

What Jesus did was to open a window in time that we might see the eternal and unchanging love of God.

What then of the cruel and violent passages of the Old Testament?  It is not God who has changed; it is men’s knowledge of Him that has changed. The prophets wrote of an avenging, angry God when they saw the cruel consequences of sin and the devastating effect of godlessness, because they did not know any better. Their knowledge of God was imperfect. Jesus came to perfect our knowledge of God.

It is told that a little girl was once confronted with some of the more bloodthirsty and savage parts of the Old Testament. Her comment was: “But that happened before God became a Christian!”

Jesus shows that God was always a Christian!

In the time of John there was a kind of heresy called Gnosticism. They held that in the beginning two things existed – God and matter. Matter was the raw material out of which the world was made, flawed and imperfect.

God is pure spirit, and pure spirit can never touch matter; therefore Jesus could not have been God for God cannot be man, which is created out of matter and therefore imperfect.

In the time of John this kind of belief was widespread. Men believed that the world was evil and that an evil God had created it.

It is to expose this teaching that John here lays down two basic Christian truths. The connection of Jesus with creation is repeatedly laid down in the New Testament. In Colossians 1:16 Paul writes: “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth … all things were created through him and for him.” In 1 Corinthians 8:6 he writes of the Lord Jesus Christ “through whom are all things.” The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the one who was the Son, “through whom also God created the world” (Hebrews 1:2).

This is a confirmation of the foundation of Christianity.

  • Christianity believes God perfectly and lovingly created the world. What is wrong with the world is due to man’s sin.
  • Christianity believes this is God’s world. Far from being so detached from the world that He could have nothing to do with it, God is intimately involved in it. Even though sin has made the world evil and tries to thwart God’s original plan of love, we can never despise the world, because it belongs to God.

He sent Jesus as His light and life (John 1:4). The theme of the whole Gospel is light, life and love – in Latin: lux, vitas, caritas, words we often see in churches and on crests.

The Fourth Gospel begins and ends with life. At the very beginning we read that in Jesus was life and at the very end we read that John’s aim in writing the gospel was that men might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

It is Jesus’ regret that men will not come to Him that they might have life (John 5:40). In Jesus is life – abundantly (John 10:10). He gives life and therefore no one will perish because no one will snatch them out of his hand (John 10:28). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

In the gospel the word “life” (zoe) occurs more than thirty-five times and the verb “to live” or “to have life” more than fifteen times.

Life is the opposite of destruction, condemnation and death.

Jesus is the bringer of this life; God is the giver of life.

The word to describe this life that God give is aionios – eternal life.

It is not simply life, which lasts forever – eternal life is that life which God lives. What Jesus offers is God’s own life. Eternal life is life, which reflects the power of the life of God himself. When Jesus came offering men eternal life, he was inviting them to enter into the very life of God.

 We enter into it by believing in Jesus Christ. The word to believe (pisteuein) occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than seventy times. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). “He who believes”, says Jesus, “has eternal life” (John 6:47). It is God’s will that men should see the Son, and believe in Him, and have eternal life (John 5:24)

Believe means we must be convinced that Jesus is truly the Son of God and take Him at his word, to accept his commandments as absolutely binding and true.

This is true life. Outside God and Jesus, it is impossible to live and know the true meaning of the life intended at creation.

Submit and ask Jesus to bring life, just as if He is there with you in His body. He is Spirit and He will communicate with your spirit in the perfect love, the heart of God, that He came to earth to show us.

 

83. A word gets a body.

We are so familiar with the beautiful words of Scripture – a familiarity that needs to be revived from time to time to infuse new life and understanding into old concepts. We know the phrase: the Word became flesh, so well, that we do not give it another thought. Maybe we could use our imagination in an extreme exercise of visualizing our words in human form.

How would those angry words in the car, hurled towards other motorists look? Do they look like big, burly bouncers set to seriously spread harm. The words of gossip behind the back of a friend, might look like a dark, cloaked figure with a bloody dagger in hand, ready to strike again and again as the words are released into the invisible realm around us. It sounds overly dramatic; still I think it is not gruesome enough. Our words inflict serious injury, even death. (Proverbs 18:21)

How would our words of encouragement and love look? Can you imagine words that look like a strong arm helping somebody up who has fallen? Our words of love are like a big hug giving shelter and acceptance where life strikes out cruelly. Our words of prayer mobilize the heavenly armies to assist in difficulty and redeem lives.

Then there was this Man – logos – the Word.

The first chapter of the Fourth Gospel is one of the greatest adventures of religious thought ever achieved by the mind of man.   

[William Barclay, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow]

By the time John writes his Gospel, he lives in Ephesus. It is the time after the Jewish war of 66-70 AD. Jerusalem is destroyed and the church dispersed and underground.

The church has grown from the roots of Judaism to something much bigger. By 60 AD the estimates were a 100 000 Greeks for every one Jew that was a Christian. The Gospel found its way out of Jewish thought and knowledge to a much wider application. Jewish ideas were completely strange to the Greeks. They had, for instance, no Messianic expectation. How should Jesus be presented to the Greek world?

In both cultures the concept of the word was central to their understanding of wisdom.

For the Jews a word is far more than mere sound. It was something which has an independent existence and which actually did things – a unit of energy charged with power. Hebrew was sparing with words and in ancient times consisted of fewer than 10 000 words. Greek was using more than 200 000 words at the time.

The Jews had a type of literature called The Wisdom Literature, which was not speculative and philosophical, but practical wisdom for the living and management of life. In the Old Testament the great example of wisdom literature is Proverbs. In certain passages wisdom (Greek word for wisdom is sophia) is given a mysterious life-giving and eternal power. In these passages wisdom has been, personified, and is thought of as the eternal agent and co-worker of God. (Proverbs 3 and 8)

At the same time that Ecclesiastes was written, a book with the name: Wisdom of Solomon was written in Alexandria, Egypt. The writer does more than talk about wisdom; he equates wisdom and the word.

So John said: “If you wish to see that word of God, if you wish to see the creative power of God, if you wish to see that word which brought the world into existence and which gives light and life to every man, look at Jesus Christ. In him the word of God came among you.”

How then did this idea of the word fit into Greek thought? It was already there waiting to be used. In Greek thought the idea of the word began away back about 560 BC, strangely enough, in Ephesus where the Fourth Gospel was written.

In 560 B.C. there was an Ephesian philosopher called Heraclitus whose basic idea was that everything is in a state of flux. Everything was changing from day to day and from moment to moment. His famous illustration was that it was impossible to step twice into the same river. You step into a river; you step out; you step in again; but you do not step into the same river, for the water has flowed on and it is a different river. But if that were so, why was life not complete chaos? How can there be any sense in a world where there was constant flux and change?

The answer of Heraclitus was that all this change and flux was not random; it was controlled and ordered, following a continuous pattern. That which controlled the pattern was the Logos – the word, the reason of God.

He wrote that in all life and in all events of life there was a purpose and a design. He held that Logos controlled the events. Heraclitus took the matter even further and reasoned that what made us able to think and to reason and enabled us to choose right from wrong, was the Logos.

Once the Greeks had discovered this idea they never let it go. It fascinated them, especially the Stoics (school of thought). The Stoics were always left in wondering amazement at the order of the world. Order always implies a mind. They attributed all cosmological order to Logos.

Plato, one of the most well-known Greek philosophers (428-348BC), considered LOGOS as the basic fact in all life, because he believed there was a pre-existent something between the logos of the thinking soul and the logos of things.

Logos is the Greek term meaning “the Word.” Greek philosophers like Plato used Logos not only of the spoken word but also of the unspoken word, the word still in the mind — the reason. When applied to the universe, Greeks were speaking to the rational principle that governs all things.

John promulgated the Logos in a radically new way. Suddenly, man is not only capable, but also deserved from the beginning of time, to accept the Logos, the Word, the Christ.

So John came to the Greeks and said: “For centuries you have been thinking and writing and dreaming about the Logos, the power which made the world, the power which keeps the order of the world, the power by which men think and reason and know, the power by which men come into contact with God. Jesus is that Logos come down to earth.” “The word,” said John, “became flesh.” Put another way: the mind of God became a person.”

The mind of God became as person to show us how to live here on earth if we were all little Christs… which we are. We are Christians.

We are reborn to become the person with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Where does this leave our words in our walk with Christ? Christ-words, springing from the fountain of Life to change the world.

Shall we speak with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, to utter the character of our Lord Jesus, the Logos – the Word?

Let us pray Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar. (The Message)

 

 

 

 

 

 

82. Unity and power – hell trembles.

We are called and equipped, never left without every possible thing we need to be victorious. That is the promise …you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes, speaking the tongues of angels, unifying the church to make it powerful and unstoppable.

The text characterizes the speaking in tongues as an utterance of prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) in which the understanding falls into the background, and therefore unintelligible without interpretation.

The original meaning of the word glossolalia is open-hearted and loud speaking to the glorification of God in Christ.

Praying in the Holy Spirit is a power manifestation of reaching out to the Father to live in the full promise of the Kingdom.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

It is sometimes translated with “unknown sounds”.

When we come together it is part of our testimony in speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16)

Spiritual songs were Christian songs – psalms, which the Holy Spirit moved the Christians to utter spontaneously when they came together in worship (1 Corinthians 14:15,26) as He moved them to speak with tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6)

But – in the congregation of believers and unbelievers we speak intelligibly. Paul says:

 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:18,19)

Henry Matthew Concise Commentary:

The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.

We can never reject the work of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father in the church. It will rob us of our power.

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. (2 Timothy 3:5)

We need the power.

My husband is a businessman trained as a lawyer, very rational and very grounded in reality. I asked him to formulate his understanding of praying in tongues. He explained his experience this way:

Sometimes in prayer I have exhausted my own known language and my words are poured out before God. Praying in tongues I become a vessel of the Holy Spirit for Him to articulate before God in a direct and heavenly way. In the burden of prayer I am drained. It is then that the Holy Spirit comes and fills me up with a heavenly glorification of God.

By the time Paul writes to the Corinthians the practice of this gift became so degenerate and abused by the Corinthians, that it was “a spiritless counterfeit, a product of pride and vanity.”

When we operate in the gifts of the Spirit, it is only to be done when the Spirit wills, to equip the church. It is never to show off. If we operate in the gifts of healing, miracles, power, discernment, tongues, administration, help – name it – it is only to build the Kingdom, most often in secret and without applause, NEVER ever to demonstrate or perform. Many of these gifts happen in public; therefore we have to operate in humility and full compliance to the Word.

As we end this discussion in prayer, just a few last comments.

Prayer is not mystical or a trance-like state of mind. It is a rational decision to enter into the presence of God.

God is you father and Jesus taught us to call Him dad. It indicates a close and warm, liberated and fearless relationship.

The key to come close to God is through Jesus. He declared the Plan for our salvation there in the Garden and established His set path to redemption. His Plan stands firm and cannot return to Him void; it always will accomplish what He purposed.

He gave us the highway, the smooth path, the sure foundation in the cross. It is through the innocent blood of His son and the full assurance of faith that we have the immense privilege to enter into the Presence of the Most High God. (Hebrews 10:19)

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says:

Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.

It is God’s delight to provide. He is never reluctant in the provision we need, rather abundant.

Hear the wonderful explanation of this Scripture in The Message:

What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.

Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

Let us conclude with Revelation 22 – the prayer of the universe calling out:

“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride.

Whoever hears, echo, “Come!”

Is anyone thirsty? Come!

All who will, come and drink,

Drink freely of the Water of Life!

 

 

 

81. Heavenly words, changing earth.

We are in the process of seeking God – already knowing how awesome He is, that there is none like Him and that He loves us with an everlasting love according to His character of goodness and truth. We are now knocking at the door of heaven, praying in the Spirit that Jesus promised, reaching out to the power of heaven to change our circumstances and our community.

In the light of all of heaven’s splendour, our fears and worries have quietly moved into the background as we dwell in the presence of the Almighty, Who holds heaven and earth in His hand. Our focus on His love and power, deals with our earthly concerns.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 Paul discusses the gifts of the Spirit as well as the manifestation and practice of it in the gatherings of believers.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: or to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

 The gifts are distributed by the Spirit as He wills and according to the need.

Paul also speaks about the gifts in Romans 12. We need the Holy Spirit to live like he says in this chapter. The standard is high and we need every powerful endowment of our Father’s promise to live the life of excellence.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best (those needed in a specific situation) gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12: 28-31)

The more excellent way is the next chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – LOVE. Anything without love is useless. The love he describes is agapé – love by choice, not by chance. It is love that is not dependent on a feeling, or an affinity or any chemistry. It is love that practices unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill towards a person, without expecting anything in return. It is love that liberates us fully from the wiles and wills of the people around us.

In this chapter he mentions the tongues of men and of angels.

Let us back up to the Tower of Babel. You know the funny story in Genesis.

The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is indeed one of the strange stories of the Bible. The people of the earth come together after the flood and plan a city. The chapter states that they had one language and one speech. They want to build something magnificent – isn’t that good? Still, the unity that comes by language would have enabled amazing power. God Himself said that nothing would be impossible for them. He confuses the speech at Babel and the people scatter to fill the earth as He originally intended they should do after the flood.

Centuries later a miracle of speech unites a people for whom nothing would be impossible. On the day of Pentecost, God uses language to establish His church and give those converts the power that comes from unity. (Acts 2:4)

They spoke in known languages of the people present to spread the Gospel . The word in Greek is dialektō (Acts 2:8).

Twenty years after the day of Pentecost, Paul asks converts in Corinth whether they have received the Holy Spirit. They were rebaptized (the only place in the Bible), because John’s baptism was already happening before the ministry of Jesus and Paul wanted to establish the principle of baptism in Jesus’ name.

And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

Tongues, translated from the Greek word glossolalia – served as a sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, assuring a believer to be an invigorated living witness.

It can be explained as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Corinthians was the speaking in angelic languages, whereas Acts 2 indicated they spoke in known human languages.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels

The characteristic of this mysterious language is that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. But rising out of this, is that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered.

This is a pillar in prayer. We need to take the time and seclusion to allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us. Sometimes it is part of day-long communication. Thinking about a difficult situation with a sigh and a sore heart, submitting it to Kingdom authority just there and then – in the car, in the kitchen, amongst the sisters, amongst the difficulties of life.

Once again in the prayer of the Holy Spirit and the operating of the gifts, it can only happen in accordance to the principle of Jesus in Matthew 6. It is received in private.

What now? Be the church of Berea.

 These were more fair-minded [open-minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

They checked up on Paul. That is how we should operate – always! We have the Bible available to each individual. These days we have commentaries and other tools at our fingertips. The most important “tool” to understand and practice Scripture however, is the Hoy Spirit.

If we humbly ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the deeper and the more of God’s presence and power, He will lead us in all truth. Jesus said His words are Spirit and truth (John 6:63).

Your next step is exactly the same as those overwhelmed people on the day of Pentecost when they asked Peter:

 Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,

Brethren, what shall we do?

And Peter answered them, Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise of the Holy Spirit is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, even to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (Acts 2:37-39)

Go back to your closet and study the Word. In humble submission ask the Holy Spirit so that He will reveal Himself to you. There in His sweet and loving presence, you will mould your tongue in praise and the utterance of unknown sounds.

It is not the object of obsession,

it is the consequence of submission.

 

Forming the tongues of angels in your own mouth,

is an utterance of faith.

 

 

80. Through the door.

In searching you find a door. This is quite a mystery. In all your prayer, all your beseeching God for your fears and worries – is there still a place where you have not been?

Of course there is!

There is a more excellent life awaiting.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.  So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.( Acts 18:24-26)

Are you ready for more? Are you willing to go where Jesus leads?

Jesus adds a third command in Matthew 7.

Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Have you ever had the experience of knocking at a door that is almost immediately opened? Just as if your arrival has been precisely anticipated?

God initiates also this part of prayer. He says to the church in Laodicea:

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

Dine with me? In Judah breakfast was mostly on the run; getting out there to work. Lunch was packed and eaten in haste. But dinner was the evening meal, the time to get to the roof of the house and sit down in the coolness of the evening to dine with the family and talk. The word used here is the word for the lingering evening meal. He wants to sit down and talk.

So if you knock, he has already knocked. The door swings open. When the door of your heart opens, you can sit down at the table set before your enemies, that table that is spread in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), for a long and peaceful chat with your Father.

Then you will come to know what His promise to Jesus was and is.

The Promise of the Father:

 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

 Jesus said:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24)

 The Father is seeking people whose worship is spiritually alive and true-hearted”. He is seeking worshippers, so we can be assured that if we will worship Him, He will show up!

 Worship invites and gives place for the glory of the Lord to be realized and to bless at a given place. It is an act of God’s sovereign choice and grace, but it is not arbitrary, random, or accidental. It is a decisive action He promises in response to genuine human hunger for Him.   Jack Hayford

To worship in spirit and truth does not imply more effort on our side.

It leads us into the heart of God. God is spirit, therefore He communicates to our spirit, the reborn new man. Jesus Himself said: I am the Truth, the Life and the Way.

In prayer we live in the power and enabling of the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. Since the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit, the official birth date of the church, we live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit who is:

The comforter and reminder of Jesus Himself.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:12-20)

 The Holy Spirit initiates prayer, long before you start praying it. When you make the decision to accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit had already done the work to prepare you for His indwelling of your spirit-man. Jesus breathed on His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22.

Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again into the Kingdom of God, the invisible kingdom on earth that Jesus and John the Baptist talked about. Then He says:

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. (John 3: 5,6: The Message)

So, if we make the decision to accept Jesus into our life, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit initiates and enables the new man, the new creation in Christ. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

And yet Jesus’ last words were:

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you… Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit is the key to receiving the gifts that enables the church for all the work to be done.

 

Come walk the power-walk of the church of Jesus.

79. Overthrowing the powers of hell.

Prayer is a plea for God’s ordained order to prevail above earthly powers. We can overthrow hell-power by prayer.

When we pray the Word of God we can have on earth what heaven had already decided on. [Jack Hayford]

That is why we pray according to Jesus’ command:

Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19) [heaven=the unseen realm]

Prayer is the golden thread throughout the Bible and the most important kingdom dynamic. In days to come, it will be your joy to study the different prayers of the prophets and kings of the Old Testament. David and his fellow psalmists probably stand out as the royalty of prayer and praise. Solomon‘s prayer at he dedication of the Temple and his request for wisdom, Isaiah’s poetry-prayers – he sang his prophecies, Jeremiah’s outbursts of praise, Daniel’s prayers, Nehemiah’s shotgun prayers – the one sentence power invocation to the highest Authority. The few godly kings of Judah prayed about warfare and threatening neighbours with miraculous intervention.

The Holy Spirit will create the hunger for God in you. Prayer is all Holy Spirit work, not your own. If you do not feel the hunger, ask for it.

I saw my mother reading the Bible for hours and hours on end. I was not like her. I was very interested in other things and could not spend hours in Bible study, but I wanted to be so fascinated with it like she was. I prayed for it. I prayed for a hunger that would drive me out of bed, grabbing my Bible. Now when I wake up in the morning, it is with excitement for something new from God.

Prayer is a life of obedience

The definition of obedience is in the original meaning of the Greek word hupakoe. It comes from hupo = under and akouo = to hear. The word signifies attentive hearing, to listen with compliant submission, assent and agreement.

Obedience is a submission to God’s way and God’s time.

Greek has two words for time – chronos and kairos.

Chronos reminds us of the word chronology and indicates calendar time, measured time, counted time, the relentless and constant passing of time in minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, centuries and millennia.

Kairos is the liberating concept of God’s time and is defined by Strong’s concordance as: opportune time, set time, appointed time, due time, definitive time, seasonable time, proper time for action, the fullness of time.

Obedience to the Word and submission to God’s timing will open your ears to receive revelational insight.

Our biggest challenge in life is to truly see. To see deeper and understand clearer. Therefore our first prayer is the prayer of the blind man:

Lord, that I can see – into my struggle and my circumstances to see You, the Giver.

Seeing brings us to the second part of the verse – seeking. When we pray to truly see, we can seek and find. It is as if the two words follow onto each other – see and seek.

Just allow the Word of God to wash over you.

 

Seek and you shall find, says Jesus in Matthew 7. What shall we find? We shall find HIM. This the Psalmist knew well.

 

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

 

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. (Psalm 14:2)

 

When You said,Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

 

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

So did the prophet Isaiah.

O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19)

 

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

 

Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways. As a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. (Isaiah 58:2)

 

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus is the Key, the Door, the Life, the Way, the One and Only. Do not let the reason and resistance of the post-modern society hinder your spiritual victory. This is not a narrow and exclusive way of coming to God, as they would like to argue. It is a wide-open invitation to the warmth and provision that you will find for every possible problem you might have.

Whatever the church may be, any denomination, God is working in there. Many people are hurt and disappointed by church people and church doctrine, but God will never abandon His church. There is always a remnant of upright, loving Christians, who walk in His love and care about you. We might think that a church is dead and irrelevant. God is patient and faithful and will always be there for people who draw near to Him in spirit and truth, far away from church or inside.

Never confuse organized religion with the church of Jesus Christ.

In seeking you will find the character of the Most High, revealed to you in the person of Jesus. In Him all the promises of God is Yes and Amen to the glory of God through us. [2 Corinthians 1:20] He is the miracle-working Messiah Who works in us exactly as He worked when He walked the earth.

This is gift from the powerful hand of the Son of God Himself. Just like the miracle in Luke 24:45:

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

 

MOMENT OF PRAYER: Ask Jesus to reveal His character to you. Ask Him to reveal the heart of the Father, so that you experience revelation-knowledge in prayer – deep insight into God and your circumstances.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: Sing the Song of Moses.

 

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

 

‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? Deuteronomy 3:24

 

O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. Psalm 89:8

 

Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms. There is none like You. Jeremiah 10:7

Seek and find Jesus and your ask-list will move into a new perspective. The list might change altogether. You will begin to ask other things that now seem more important.

Just for a moment we can swing back the armour of God, explained in Ephesians 6. We cannot pray without the armour. Prayer is the battleground. We war against invisible powers that have clearly defined levels of authority in a real, though invisible, realm of activity. The armour prepares us for battle – prayer is the means by which we engage in the battle itself, with God’s word being our chief weapon employed against satan in our struggle.

 

Dear Pebble pals – I will be away for two weeks. When I come back I will post the last pieces in this series. It is all about the words:

Knock, and it will be opened to you. In it we will talk about the events of Pentecost and how it is applicable in the church for today.

 

 

78. Only the very best – always?

Jesus’ response is very simple. One of the Jewish Rabbis asked, “Is there a man who ever hates his son?” Jesus’ argument is that no father ever refused the request of his son; and God the great Father will never refuse the requests of his children.

Jesus’ examples are carefully chosen. He takes three examples; Luke adds a third to the two Matthew gives.

 If a son asks bread, will his father give him a stone? If a son asks a fish, will his father give him a serpent? If a son asks an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? (Luke 11:12)

The point is that in each case the two things cited bear a close resemblance.

The little, round, limestone stones on the seashore were exactly the shape and the colour of little loaves. If a son asks bread will his father mock him by offering him a stone, which looks like bread but which is impossible to eat?

If a son asks a fish, will his father give him a serpent? Almost certainly the serpent is an eel. According to the Jewish food laws an eel could not be eaten, because an eel was an unclean fish. “Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you” (Leviticus 11:12). That regulation ruled out the eel as an article of diet. If a son asks for a fish, will his father indeed give him a fish, but a fish, which it is forbidden to eat, and which is useless to eat? Would a father mock his son’s hunger like that?

If the son asks for an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? The scorpion is a dangerous little animal. The sting can be exceedingly painful, and sometimes even fatal. In Israel there is a pale kind of scorpion, which, when folded up, would look exactly like an egg. If a son asks for an egg, will his father mock him by handing him a biting scorpion?

God will never refuse our prayers; and God will never mock our prayers.

The Greeks had their stories about the gods who answered men’s prayers, but the answer was an answer with a twist, a double-edged gift. Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus a mortal youth, so the Greek story ran. Zeus, the king of the gods, offered her any gift that she might choose for her mortal lover. Aurora very naturally chose that Tithonus might live forever; but she had forgotten to ask that Tithonus might remain for ever young; and so Tithonus grew older and older and older, and could never die, and the gift became a curse.

Any man who prays is bound to want to know to what kind of God he is praying. He wants to know in what kind of atmosphere his prayers will be heard. Is he praying to a grudging God out of whom every gift has to be squeezed and coerced? Is he praying to a mocking God whose gifts may well be double-edged? Is he praying to an angry God who must be appeased and calmed?

Is he praying to a God whose heart is so kind that he is more ready to give than we are to ask?

In Revelation the reception of our prayers is described. This is the atmosphere in which prayer is heard. Let us note Revelation 5:8 and never forget this verse.

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

 Jesus said it. It is good and true. I believe it. Period. He said God is good and give good gifts. He said it is His Father’s joy to give to those who will receive.

Micah 7 says God delights in mercy.

The story of Jesus explaining the good gifts of the father to the son, explains en encourages why we should accept God’s way and timing as our answer. God will always answer our prayers; but he will answer them in his way.

Often if he answered our prayers as we at the moment desired it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin. This saying of Jesus tells us, not only that God will answer, but that God will answer in wisdom and in love.

Move in the Spirit. Move your thinking, move your resolve, move your attitude, to where you belong to receive the Father.

In Greek there are two kinds of imperative; there is one definite command, like “Close the door!” There is also the present imperative which commands a man to go on doing something or do it always. “Always close the door,” would be a present imperative. The words of Jesus here are present imperatives. Jesus is saying, “Go on asking; go on seeking; go on knocking.” He is telling us to persist in prayer; never to be discouraged in prayer. Is our desire such that we can bring it repeatedly into the presence of God?

This is the confirmation of praying without ceasing.

Jesus here lays down the twin facts that God will always answer our prayers His way, in wisdom and in love. We bring to God an undiscouraged life of prayer, which tests the rightness of the things we pray for, and which tests our own sincerity in asking for them.

A repeated desire, tests the depth of desire. Prayer will get rid of the baggage, the superficial worries and the fleeting cravings.

MOMENT OF PRAYER : Ask in the Name of Jesus. As if He is standing here and asking you – What would you like Me to do for you?

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: We might always feel unworthy. If sin is the barrier – confess.

Hear the words of Jesus:

 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer. Matthew 21:22