May 3rd, 2010
This piece is a difficult one for me because it is beyond me even now. By the Spirit of God, I will be able to make clear what I think is an important idea for Christians who have trouble with insecurity, control, and their own will.
In prayer, God showed me how I limit Him. I approach our Father with requests, with praise, with worship, with thanksgiving. I love being with our Father. I find His love, I find Him. But at times when I pray to ask Him for something, to do something, to intervene, I am aware of how I view His power and His will. The scriptures say, “Cast all your anxieties upon Him for He cares about you.” I do this and am heartened when I remember in faith how our Father has regard for us. He does want us to tell Him about our real problems, our real pressures, but when I come into His presence, when He reveals himself to me in Jesus, in the Spirit, I feel like my problems are trifles, insignificant, not even a challenge for Him and I am right. My pastor some years ago told me a story. This other pastor was counseling one in his care and asked the person what he prayed to God about. The person replied, “Oh, I only pray about the big things.” The pastor replied, “ What things could possible be “big” to God.”
This brings me to the idea. What we consider insignificant, we don’t want to bother God with. What we decide to be important, big, big enough to bring to Him in prayer, we invite Him to intervene. In both cases we are limiting God. We limit His love and His care for us by deeming, in our own judgment, things that would just waste his time and clutter His ledger. And we limit His power by placing significance on the difficulty level of our requests. And this concept of difficulty is based on our limited view of God through the eyes of the flesh.
I hope to be clear as I am still disorganized in my thinking and there are many parts to this idea. First, there is His will and our will in prayer and in life. There is “You do not receive because you do not ask, you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.” This verse against, “whatever you ask in my name I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it.” There is how the unsaved pray to God when they are in trouble, they bargain with God, they only come for help for what they specifically want, specifically, they seek to do their own will and ask God to help them accomplish their own will and so they ask and do not receive and therefore confirm in their own minds that God does not love them because He didn’t jump to grant their wishes, their will.
Do we do the same? When we pray, do we lack relationship with our Father so much that we are reduced to asking for His minimal participation in our lives? And are we then disappointed in Him, that He failed us in our requests, concluding that He does not love us and could not trouble Himself to help us in our small requests? We Christians who pray for spiritual things and want spiritual growth and success in spiritual matters; we must examine our hearts. We must ask God to, “Search me O God, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” We think that if we are praying the things of God that this automatically pleases Him and that we will get what we are asking for. I would contend that even in our “spiritual” requests we still might be asking wrongly, to spend it on our passions. What is the passion of the spiritually religious man who serves God with his flesh in his religion about God? Ask your local Pharisee. Think of the two men who went up to the temple to pray. They both prayed. The humble man stood afar off and cried aloud for mercy. Look at the Pharisee’s prayer:
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.'
Well, the Pharisee was thankful and he was praying to God. What do you think his passions were? What would a Pharisee ask of God? And what do we Christians do in prayer when our hearts are not right. We will indeed pray. We will say the words we learned are acceptable to Him, but what are the passions of a Christian who is not right before God? These passions are of the flesh and are in the guise of prayer.
“We do not know how to pray as we ought. The Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” The truth is, we cannot be righteous without God making us righteous through Jesus Christ. And He must first choose to reveal His Son to us, for us to be saved and receive His Spirit. And by His Spirit we are able to learn His Will. And by His Spirit we are able to do His will and even care about His will. And by His Spirit we are able to say, “Not my will but thine be done.” Christians are the only people in the world who have a choice because we received the Spirit of God. But the fact that we have this choice does not guarantee we will make the right choice when praying to our Father who is in Heaven.
When we try to serve God with our human understanding, our human strength, we are trying to serve God with our flesh. The reason we do this is that in our flesh, we are in control and God is limited to our understanding of Him, therefore we control His intervention into our lives. If we can limit then we can control. If we are wicked enough to learn that God will not force His presence upon us and then take this truth to only invite Him into our lives when “we decide” the matter is “big” enough for Him and too much for us, then we are praying in the flesh and not the Spirit, we are worse than an unbeliever because we have the Spirit of God and we choose to control God’s presence in our lives. The fruit of this is self-righteousness. The idea is that there are some things we can handle and only some things we can call God in on and we presume upon the riches of His kindness and misinterpret His love when He does act on our behalf. This is a Christian life whose end will be, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” There will be believers who will be surprised that they are not going with Him when He comes, because they have deceived themselves, thinking that being a Christian is doing the spiritual things Christians do, and never actually sharing their heart with their Heavenly Father in allowing Him to make His Home in their hearts. When we treat God like a guest or a visitor, controlling when He can stay and when He should go away for a while, we are limiting Him and controlling Him. Our Lord knocks to be let in to “Live” in us forever. In the flesh we shutter to share our house with a houseguest for more than 2 days. As believers in God who are sowing to our flesh, we shutter to share our life with our Heavenly Father for more than 10 minutes of prayer time a day.
Please understand, beloved, if I am not describing you then you already understand. If I am describing you, then repent. Turn to Him and live in Him. Invite Him to Live in you.
The second part of what I was shown was the idea that Walking in the Spirit is to not walk by the spirit of the world and not walk according to the flesh, not live according to the limitations we have and the limitations we put on God. God is able to do more than we ask or think. This simple reminder has affected my view profoundly. The verses coming up show how God is beyond us. This may not seem profound but consider that God our Father who is beyond us, more powerful, with unsearchable understanding, knowledge, wisdom…..Our Lord lives in us and wants to work through us beyond our control, beyond our understanding, beyond our capabilities. This is the true Christian life.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.The fruits of the Spirit are exactly that: THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God, God who lives in us because of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit of love is not the love we produce from the flesh. The joy we experience is not the joy or the happiness the flesh experiences. The Peace of God is not the peace the unsaved claim to have. All the fruits are unique manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. We bear these fruits when we abide in Him. We do not abide in Him with 10 minutes visits, but by living by the Spirit, walk by the Spirit. Look at these verses:
Eph 3: 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
2Co 12:4 - was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
1Pe 1:8 -Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
Job 5:9: who does great things beyond understanding, and marvelous things without number.
145: 5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Isa 40:28 -Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.
Ro 11:33 - O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
These verses show us how beyond us, outside our limits God is. Take this fact and then look at this next verse:
20 Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Consider the words carefully. Now to Him (Our Father) who by the power( The Holy Spirit) at work WITHIN US( He who is beyond us is in us) is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think….Beyond what we ask, beyond what we can even think! To Him be glory in the church(us) and in Christ Jesus( the One who was the only one able to open the scroll and to break its seals, because He was the only one pure and without sin, dying on the cross for us and redeeming us so that we can have God in the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, to be able to do the works He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in them. The reason we appear no different from the world is because we are not walking by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit. The world will see the difference by our love for one another. We love because He first loved us. If we do not allow God to live in us, take up our cross daily, then we will treat God the way the world does, only asking His help when we decide the problem is beyond our abilities. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
It is the grace of God that He would choose, in a sense, to limit Himself, to reduce His strength for us, reduce or trim His power, reduce or minimize His understanding to be able to talk to us, have fellowship with us. Remember when Jacob wrestled with the angel. It seems that Jacob won the wrestling match. But then the angel touched his thigh and put Jacob's hip out of the socket. Is this not like us with God. He is willing to reduce and limit Himself to our level and be involved with us, but at any time, He could overwhelm us. He made it possible for Moses to speak with Him as one who speaks with His friend. God makes this possible. This is different from us limiting Him and bringing Him down to our abilities. When He is in control, He is able to arrange fellowship with Him that will not hurt us or lead us into sin. When we set up the fellowship with Him, we imperfectly limit His power and holiness so that we can manage His influence in our lives.
PLease read now Isaiah 40 and think about your limitations and God's limitless power. Think of your strength and His. Think of how there is no one like Him and He chooses to uphold you and take you beyond your abilities, beyond your understanding. Surrender your will to His. Invite Him to make His home with you. Do not treat Him as a guest. Go to His House and He will treat you as a son or daughter. You will not be a guest but one of His family.
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 6 A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.
9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" 10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? 14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the isles like fine dust. 16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
18 To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? 19 The idol! a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains. 20 He who is impoverished chooses for an offering wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skilful craftsman to set up an image that will not move. 21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23 who brings princes to nought, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hid from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.