Wednesday, June 25, 2014

If Jesus says, "Ask and you will receive", Then how come we don't receive what we ask for?

Scripture: John 16:23-33
Truth 1- The Veil is Torn! (John 16:23-24)
Truth 2- Jesus gives us the Authority to Address God. (John 16:23-24)
Truth 3- God LOVES His children. (John 16:25-28)
Truth 4- God loving you does NOT mean that you will escape hard seasons. (John 16:32)

How is your prayer life?
Is it powerful and warm? Is it old & cold? Has it slowly become mere religious duty/ a spiritual discipline? Do you feel like sometimes your prayers go to the ceiling?

Keith Green, sings a song that describes this struggle with sin well-
“My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me”

This morning, Jesus is going to help us regain perspective on prayer & we are going to dig into a very tough and exciting passage on addressing God.


23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything.
In that day, (ESV Study Bible, DA Carson)- referring to Post-Resurrection
-Jesus, in this passage, is teaching how he must go to the Father & then He will be back. Up until this point they are PRE-CROSS. This is confusing to them. He has become their life, He is their rabbi, their master, their teacher, their focus, their friend, their Messiah. In their opinion, He is going to CONQUER & SAVE Israel.

You will no longer ask me anything- They will understand what Jesus was saying at that point. All of this, “I am going away” and “I will come back” will make perfect sense to you.
WE understand this NOW.

Truth 1- The Veil is Torn! (USE A CURTAIN)
Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
My Father
-Jesus is teaching that his talmidim will go to the Father DIRECTLY.
-Jesus is teaching that we now have DIRECT ACCESS to the Father and will now refer to Him as OUR FATHER.
-Calling God FATHER did NOT happen in Jewish culture. This is a new thing with Jesus. This is foreign to people. It shows a QUALITY of relationship that the Hebrews never knew.

-We have a new relationship with God through the cross of Jesus. At Sinai, Moses was so impacted by God's brilliance that Moses had to veil his face around people. God taught that no one can see God and live. His radiance, his holiness is deadly. He has to veil Himself. From the fruit to the cross, God has veiled Himself from people, for their safety.
-Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
-Matt. 27:51 The veil...the one that seperated God & man..., was torn in two.
-Hebrews 4:14-16- Our new relationship BECAUSE OF Jesus.

Let me repeat- THE VEIL IS TORN! God has opened entry to the Holy of Holies.

Truth 2. Jesus gives us Authority to address God.
ie- Access to the Father- Tad & Lincoln
Will give you whatever you ask in my name
In my name”-
-This is NOT a magic phrase that will manipulate God. Ie, “Dear Father, help me win the lottery in Jesus' name, amen.”
- Apart from Jesus, we do NOT have this access to God. Jesus' blood gives us the right to this relationship with the Father.
-(ESV Study Bible) “His name”- His name refers to all that is true about him, and therefore the totality of his person.1Praying in Jesus’ name means praying in a way consistent with his character and his will (a person’s name in the ancient world represented what the person was like); it also means coming to God in the authority of Jesus. Probably both senses are intended here. Adding “in Jesus’ name” at the end of every prayer is neither required nor wrong. Effective prayer must ask for and desire what Jesus delights in. 2
-DA Carson mentions how obedience and asking in Jesus name go hand in hand.

Will give you whatever you ask
THIS is a tough one. THIS phrase is the one that got me. For experience betrays this verse. THIS is where I want to camp out.

-So far we have learned that we have SONSHIP & we have AUTHORITY to talk to the Father. This is HUGE & this is REAL.
-We haven't done anything to merit a hearing from God.
-We shouldn't expect God to answer us at through Jesus.
-When God does hear & answer, we should be extatic!

That being said, there have been times where I have put Jesus to the test here by praying for some very powerful things, things that were noble, good and would, so I presume, bring Him glory, things that I assume He would be excited and happy to answer....but all I heard was silence. The request was NOT granted, as the verse teaches.
ie- Tory's sister have probably been there too.

Philip Yancey, “Dissapointment with God” does a great job answering why God doesn't sometimes give us whatever we ask for in Jesus' name. He said...
-First we see His people in the Old Testament struggling with the sinlence of God
Elijah was there AFTER calling fire from heaven, Joseph saw God's silence when in a pit, David cried out a couple of times, “Turn and answer me.” “How long will you remain silent?”, Abram gave up on Sarai & cuddled with Hagar, Saul saw the witch instead of waiting for God, Isaiah said, “You are a God who hides yourself”, Habakkuk complained, “Justice never prevails”,

Then even in the New Testament, Jesus was there in the garden, Paul with his thorn in the flesh, the apostles when choosing Matthias, Jesus'prayer for the oneness of believers (Jn. 17:21), creations growning for God to do something (Rom. 8:22), believers who lost love ones (Heb. 11:32-35), Lazarus still died, Paul sat around in prison for a couple YEARS, all the apostles except one were executed. Dietrich Boinhoeffer talks about God being SHY. Jesus walked through the crowd near the pool at Siloam and didn't heal everyone who needed help. Jesus' cousin John asked for help and died in his place of despair.

So, why would Jesus say this, and then not do it? Why does He sometimes answer and sometimes not answer our prayers in His name?

Keep in mind, that it is AWESOME that we even get to approach God.

A few thoughts from what I have studied in Scripture:
1. Romans 8:26-27. We don't see the big picture. We really don't know what to pray for, what is best
2. Matt. 7:7-11. God is a good Father. He will not give us snakes & stones.
3. Matt. 26:39. We need to defer to God's will. Jesus prayed & then defered to God's will. God sees the big picture.
4. I have many examples of God SPECIFICALLY answering prayer, for His purposes.
5. God will not allow you to become a spoiled brat. Yancey- look what happened when God answered all of SOLOMON'S desires...he forgot about God and fell into sin. God continually showing up has historically led to sin (Israel, Elijah, & Solomon).

-(ESV Study Bible) To know that he hears us in whatever we ask is enough, because communion with God is the goal of prayer. we have the requests. Human experience testifies that Christians do not always receive all the things they ask from God, even things that seemingly accord with his revealed will (see note on v. 14). This verse must be understood in light of other passages of Scripture which show that praying according to God’s will includes the need to pray in faith (Matt. 21:22; James 1:6), with patience (Luke 18:1–8), in obedience (Ps. 66:18; 1 Pet. 3:12), and in submission to God’s greater wisdom (Luke 22:42; Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 4:19).3

The fact of the matter is that God has given us full right to address Him & He loves fellowship with us. So, do you have a burden? Give it to Him. Do you lack wisdom/perspective? Ask Him for wisdom and perspective. Wait with excitement for His answer! But trust that if He doesn't answer the way we think best, then He has a way that is higher than our way, a thought that is higher than ours. It is a walk of faith. But get EXCITED, we have a God who listens!!
(Emily E, Orly D. shoes, Joe & the van, Shellie)

Truth 3. God LOVES His children.
Let me repeat that slowly. Insert your name for the word “children”.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father HIMSELF (pater autos) loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

-His disciples are loved by God HIMSELF. God has become their FATHER.
-Father- I don't know what this word means to you, but I picture me calling my dad at work and him NEVER being too busy to talk to me.
-There is a new relationship with the Creator.

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied.

Truth 4. God loving you does NOT mean that you will escape hard seasons.
32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone.

-Even Jesus was abandoned by people. Yet God never left Him and never forsook Him.

Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

-Jesus' warnings would later bring warmth, that they were not abandoned. Helping them endure.
-Example- when I dilate patients I tell them what will happen so they won't freak out when it does happen. I FOREWARN them.

Are you going through a hard time?

In conclusion
And finally, Christian, you who love and trust Jesus, be of good courage. You have moved from Fear to love. From Sinai to sonship. You have authority, through Jesus, to address God and find help in your time of need. You are loved by God, even if the circumstances you face seem to indicate otherwise. And finally, let this last encouragement of Jesus encourage your soul to stand strong and have peace in the storms...Jesus says-

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

1 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2019). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
2 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2053). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

3 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2437). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Porn Under the Matress

Back in the day, if you wanted to look at porn, you had to sneak in a VHS tape or hide a magazine under your mattress.  For most people, you really didn't come across this stuff very often.
When I was an adolescent, I saw a "girly magazine" for the first time.  I wish I hadn't but I did.  My eyes were opened to a depraved world that is very alluring, but
very destructive.

Fast forward to today.  You don't need to smuggle in a magazine or a VHS tape.  Today, you already have these things inside of your house.  They are a click of a button away.

If someone wants to live for Jesus, then they know to stay clear of these things.  But how?  I am writing this to simply say, thank you Jesus for internet blockers that stop this crap from being accessible to our family.  If you don't have protection, I highly recommend it.  It will save your family from much addiction and suffering.

Here are some other tips, besides a filter, to protect your family from this stuff:

1. Do NOT allow people to have computers/internet access in their own closed spaces.
2. We have a remote clicker that can easily turn off internet access during the overnight, or times we don't want the family to have internet access.
3. We limit our family to x amount of internet time.
4. Have open conversations about verse in Scripture that teach about having eyes for ONLY your spouse.  I can give you a list of good ones if you contact me.

I had a dad tell me once that he had allowed his kids to have unlimited access to the internet because they had to defend their own boundaries.  I told him he was nuts!  We need to, as the parents, protect our kids AND teach our kids about good boundaries.  I am thankful for resources that are out there to help us develop good boundaries.

3 cheers for internet protection & good boundaries!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On Being a People Pleaser

Question: Would you rather be accepted by God or by man?

I personally have a quick answer, then I have a thought out
answer to this question.

Think about it.  This is a very deep question, although one may quickly respond, "God.", if you think through it, you MAY discover that your answer and your reality are vastly different.

Anyhow, this entry comes from the overflow of my personal time in the Bible.  These are the thoughts that I have been musing on for the last couple of days.

"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders (Jewish leaders) believed in him.  BUT because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for FEAR they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God."
-John 12:42-43

Now, before you decide to do something radical to prove that you will stand with God, Jesus says,

"Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.  The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
If anyone hears my words but does not KEEP them, I do NOT judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.  For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
-Jesus, John 12:44-50

Cultural terminology
The word "praise" (Gk. doxa-glory,praise,accpetance) in this context  = "acceptance" in our context

Thought Questions:
1. Would you rather be accepted by man/God?
2. What if your obedience to God meant that man would fall away from God? Should you then compromise your faith to make God more acceptable to man?
3. Does God need you to be accepted by man so that those men may find God more acceptable?

Examples that the Church struggles with...
1. Homosexuality (not the people, but the action).  The Bible CLEARLY teaches that the sexually immoral, those who practice sexual immorality (unashamedly live a lifestyle of this), will NOT dwell with God in His kingdom.  Yet, many churches have fallen into the temptation of wanting to be palatable to the world (which is this whole acceptance of man rather than standing with God).  They have turned their backs on what God CLEARLY says, and turned toward the praise of their fellow man.
2. Pluralism.  The Bible also clearly teaches that we are not have ANY other gods alongside the Lord.  He is GOD, He ALONE is God.  This whole accept Islam garbage....  Yes, love the people BUT know that they are in darkness & that Allah is NOT God.  He is a false god, most likely a demon that they are following.  The Bible is clear on this, for the Quran's version of God & the God of the Bible are VASTLY different.  So, will you say that Islam is a road to God, as culture teaches?  Or will you say, "No.  Jesus is Lord and no other." and risk being rejected by man and seen as a nut job?

What I am NOT saying
I am not saying that we need to prove ourselves by making radical stances.  For that is of NO benefit. Those "Post this if you love Jesus, don't post if you hate Jesus" stuff on Facebook is NOT always the best example of seeking favor with God over favor with man.

Rather, when the issue comes up, you stand with Jesus against the philosophy of the world.  You have a firm confidence in what you believe, regardless of the response of others.  You stand for what is right, even if it means standing alone with Jesus.  And you wrap this stand with gentleness and love for people.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lessons from the Wilderness

What are some things I have learned during these last 3 years hiking in the wilderness?

1. Man with dirty clothes expects to be seated.
Once upon a time a man came to dine at a fine dinning restaurant.  He was wearing greasy jeans and an oil stained t-shirt.  His hair was dirty & clearly needed a shower.  The host refused service to this man.  There was a clear dress code that was not being followed.

God is holy, we are not.  What makes us think we can approach God & think he will even answer us?  Has our theology become so man-centered that somehow we feel God owes us a response? Have we forgotten how utterly sinful we are?  How offensive and defiant we are towards God?  I know we have.

It is only through Jesus that we can even approach God.  Yet, many refuse to do even this. They think God is at their beckon call, while all the while refusing to come to the one who can wash us of our sin so we can even approach God.  He is NOT at our beckon call.  He is NOT required to even hear our prayers.  The blood of Jesus, when we admit that we have sinned, and come to Jesus for help, washes away our many sins (The grease and oil in our soul).  Through Jesus we can confidently approach his throne to find help in our moments of need.

And even so, God still is NOT required to answer us.  But He often does through the Spirit that resides in the believer.

2. "God...what is your will???"
God's will for us is given in His word, and is highlighted through His spirit, for His glory.
We beg and beg for God to tell us His will. But often while ignoring much of the will He has already told us.  For example, God's will for you is to primarily give thanks to Him in everything.

God's will for you is to know Christ, to follow Him, to live for His glory alone, to love Him with our being, and to love people as ourselves.  Let's first focus on these.  When we are pursuing these, we can then ask for specific insight. Which will probably be the opposite of what you are planning.