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

 

8. The promise is guaranteed – you are the winner.

We have taken a walk deep into the beautiful symbolism of the desert Tabernacle and how God was approached in ancient times. Now that you know how careful the old Hebrews had to be in their worship, you will appreciate and rejoice in the work of Jesus on the cross. In the most dramatic events in the history of mankind, the curtain parted and God came to live in us.

David lived about a thousand years before Jesus walked the earth. He rejoiced in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and his son Solomon was bestowed the honour to build the Temple in Jerusalem placing the Ark in the place where it belonged in the most Holy part of the temple, with great rejoicing. Without going to deep into history again, one must take note that the Ark did not remain there until Jesus walked in Jerusalem.

Sin and backsliding brought the conquest of other nations and God’s people went into exile under pagan rulers who had no respect for the holiness of God. They destroyed the Temple and in the bloodshed and chaos the Ark was lost forever. Many stories were written and even movies made, because of the fascination with such a holy treasure. I am not surprised that the Ark has never been found, as it fits in beautifully with what happened on the cross.

The stage for the coming of Jesus was set throughout the Old Testament. Everything that happened was to prepare them to recognize the Son of God. Prophet upon prophet spoke about it, promised it, sang it, rejoiced in it – but they were killed and ignored by so many. When Jesus came it was so unexpected and different from what they conjured in their selfish hopes of earthly vision, that they argued with Him, condemned Him and eventually killed Him.

This makes me tremble in fear of the limitations of a selfish outlook and confined thoughts, ruled by the here and now and not by the heavenly perspective that God promises through the Holy Spirit. My desire is for deep insight into the unseen and mysteries of God. He promises in

Psalm 25: 14,15:

The secret of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who fear, revere and worship Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its deep, inner meaning. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.

And my favourite – I will quote this scripture often until it is burning in your mind: Jeremiah 33:3: NIV

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Amplified:

…great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

The Message:

Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’

What a promise to rejoice in!

The promises of God always have a condition and I can sometimes just jump for joy when I see what is required to qualify for His precious gift.

Do you see in this promise what you must do? Read it and mark it in bold red: Call.

Calling out to God and asking insight into His perspective and wisdom, denotes desire. He promises this throughout Scripture. In Luke 11:9 Jesus invites you: [The Message]

Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.

James 4:7-10 in The Message describes a coming away from your defeat and serious focus in your desire to hear the heartbeat of your Father.

 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

This state of mind to enquire of God and to desire His insight, brings us back to Isaiah 55 where the invitation is once again confirmed: Verses 6 and 7:

Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking.
  Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

This chapter in Isaiah was so many times in my life the source of hope and renewed faith in God’s superior rule and the matchless power of His Word. The power in the promise and the rest in God’s goodness and almighty ability to change everything in my favour, are pure gold.

Faith in these words and the calm assurance flowing from this truth, is truly living a life of excellence.

Read with me and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart. Isaiah 55: 8-11:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

In the laws of nature God’s unfailing promises are illustrated and guaranteed. The rain does not stop halfway and go back to heaven. It accomplishes the task of watering the earth. I do not know if you have ever seen rain that does not fall on the earth, that stops in the sky and turn around and wash right back up! Ridiculous, isn’t it?

The rain that God sends, waters the earth so that the seeds can grow and the bread can be made and the people can be fed. This is the law of the seasons and of night and day. God said it and throughout all the ages without any interruption ever, so it happens.

Genesis 8:22:  For as long as Earth lasts,
planting and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night will never stop.

Now that you know that, back to the key words in Isaiah 55:11 to be memorized and absorbed:

So shall My word be….

We can rely on the fulfilling of the promises of God in the same way and with the same certainty that we know the sun comes up and goes down. Remember that when you panic about things happening in your life. Change can only be managed in the light of the constant assurance of God’s everlasting arms under you. [Deuteronomy 33:26-28]

You can confidently declare: [Hebrews 13:6, Ampl]

So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

Rejoice! God is for you, who can be against you. Nothing that this world, this life can throw your way will destroy you. It is guaranteed. Call on Him. He promises to be with you always.

He will work things for your good. [Romans 8:28]

He will turn the curse into a blessing. [Nehemiah 13:2]

See you soon!