What is Ours Even Now
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.(Psalm 33:20)
Our mind may have beautiful visions of what God has promised to do, and our lips may speak of then in stirring words, but these are not really the measure of our faith or power. No, the real measure of the spiritual believes in we expect from Him- and the blessing we bring to our fellow men- is what we really know of God in our personal experience, of His conquering the enemies within, reigning and ruling, revealing Himself in His holiness and power in our innermost being.
As we know how blessed the waiting on God has become to our own souls, we will confidently hope in the blessings to come upon ourselves and on the church around us. The keyword of all our expectations will be what He has said. In the promises, He reveals Himself in His hidden glory! And from what He has done in us, we will trust Him to do mighty things around us.
While the promised blessings for ourselves or for others may tarry, what is ours even now is the unutterable blessedness of knowing and having Him who has promised- the divine blessed, the living Fountain of the coming blessings. Let this truth acquire full possession of your souls- that waiting on God is itself the highest privilege of man, the highest blessedness of His redeemed child.
In waiting on God, His greatness and your littleness suit meet each other most wonderfully. Just bow in emptiness and poverty and utter weakness, in humility and meekness, and surrender to His will before His great glory….and be still. As you wait on Him, God draws near. He will reveal Himself as the God who will mightily fulfill His every promise.
May God increase the company of those who say: “Our soul waiteth for the Lord; he is our help and our shield”(Psalm33:20).
In the eleventh chapter of Luke Jesus is speaking to us about bringing our petitions before God.
“It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended or wronged us]. And lead us not into temptation [ but rescue us from evil].’” Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread]; 6 for a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come to visit me, and I have nothing to serve him’; 7 and from inside he answers, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything just because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence and boldness he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9 “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you, then, being evil [that is, sinful by nature], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
The disciples have noticed that the prayers of Christ are radically different than what they have known or experienced. They have heard the prayers of the priest, they have prayed their own prayers and for the most part they have seen few of any answered prayers. When they observe Jesus’ prayers, they hear the intimacy between Him and God. This intimacy has not been seen in the prayers they have heard. Jesus speaks to God as though He is present and not as though He is distant. When He prays, results occur, and every prayer has an immediate response. So they come to Jesus and ask Him to teach them to pray as He prays. He gives them a prayer outline that we know as “The Lord’s Prayer”. This prayer was not to be just a jingle we say by rote, but an outline to keep us focused. Jesus follows this up by telling the parable of the friend who comes at midnightasking for bread to feed a friend. Jesus says that though the man may not get up because of friendship, he will do so because of the persistence and boldness. The persistence and boldness of the one who is asking is due to the established relationship between the one asking and the one being asked. Only intimate friendship could create such boldness to go to someone in the middle of the night to ask for help. Few if any would go to a stranger. We know as humans we can trust the love and caring of those whom we might ask for help at an inconvenient time. Let me illustrate. Years ago, my youngest brother was on his way home from Michigan where he was stationed while in the Air Force. Somewhere around 1am, he called me. His vehicle had broken down in Louisville, Kentucky. So my sister and I got into a vehicle and drove there to get him and his wife. We both had worked the day before. Our bodies were tired. It would have been nice to sleep, but someone we loved had a need. Jesus often compared the love of God to our love, and He does so here. He is telling us that if a friend who has been disturbed in the middle of the night would get up because of the urgency of the need, how much more will our Father rise to the occasion when we are in need.
Now many of us read the next portion and separate it from the context. There are those who insist that asking more than once is lacking faith for they quote, “ Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you”. There they stop as though the instant you ask you receive. But Jesus continues with these words: “ For everyone who keeps on asking…..who keeps on seeking…who keeps on knocking….” I’m sure that the man seeking help from his friend just didn’t knock once and go away. He no doubt kept knocking until finally the door opened. Too many of us interpret silence as “no” so we ask timidly, we seek half heartedly and we knock lightly once or twice. We do so because we’re not sure about our relationship with God. Again let me illustrate. Since I’ve been at Peters Creek these few months, I’m blessed with the wonderful friends that Sherry and I are getting to know. I have no doubt that we’re we in need, we would only have to ask and many of those friends would be glad to assist. It’s not their unwillingness that would keep me from asking. It’s being unsure of the depth of that friendship. In the same way, we know that God loves but we’re not sure we qualify for all His blessings.
Jesus again compares our love to the love of God the Father by saying, “If you being evil, that is sinful by nature, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give….”
We know there is an innate boldness that children have to ask their parents for something. They have no shame, no fear and no timidity. They ask expectantly and aren’t surprised when they get what they ask. As a matter of fact, they are usually surprised when they don’t. Jesus is saying that our approach to God ought to be the same. That we know we are His children and that we are loved by Him and if sinful parents love their children enough to give them good gifts, then we must enter into an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father where we know that He loves us more.
The conclusion of this revelation is startling. Jesus doesn’t say that we get everything we ask for. This is the confusion of those who quit reading after the “ask and you shall receive”. Jesus actually says: “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask….” So I know you’re thinking, “ I’m asking God for healing, blessing, deliverance, or help. That’s what I want and need. Why would He not give me just what I need at the moment? I’m not asking for everything. Just this little request.”
Why would Jesus conclude this subject of prayer with this statement? I believe what He is saying is that when God gives Himself to us, in the form of the Holy Spirit, He is giving us a gift that goes far beyond our current need. As we ask and wait in prayer, loneliness and anxiety can be our constant companion, so this gift of the Holy Spirit becomes our Comforter.
16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you.
When we can’t seem to find the words to describe our need and the desired answer, the Holy Spirit becomes our intercession. And we can trust Him to do so on our behalf and that our request is in keeping with the will of God and therefore will be answered.
“In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will.
Further when we receive this “good gift” of the Holy Spirit, we also receive all the gifts He brings with Him. And those gifts meet every need we have.
“Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good. All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He chooses.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11
What then shall we ask? Ought we not ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit and believe as we receive that gift we also receive the power and ability to receive the answers to our prayers and request? Our Father who loves us delights in blessing His children . Let us receive the revelation that we are more than just “sinners saved by grace”. We have been adopted by the Most High God as His children.
“For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “ Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.”
Dr. John Thompson