Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Agree to pray believing... (cont)

Though no one may dare limit what God will do for the believer today, we need to realize that in this age of grace, we live by faith not by sight, and that ours is a higher privilege as those “who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).” If everything we asked for was given to us, faith would sink to a lower level, and the whole standard and character of the believer's walk would be altered. In fact, when we look at Paul’s life, we see that the sufferings toward the end of his life show a higher faith than the miracles of his earlier ministry.**

Would receiving everything we ask for even be good for us in “this present evil age? (Gal 1:4)” Just think of all the trouble we’d get ourselves into! But the wonderful fact is that we have far more than this now.

Romans 8:26 tells us:

...we do not know what to pray for as we ought...

Paul goes on to explain that the Spirit makes intercession for us according to the will of God, adding:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).

We know that "the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:22-23) but few of us appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit groans with us in our present state. He sympathizes deeply and "intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom 8:26). In this way, God, by His Spirit, comes alongside us to help.

It's true we don't receive whatever we ask for in the darkness of this age, but...

...God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Cor 9:8). His grace we have so much more than this, that Paul proclaims:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph 3:20-21)

The highest expression of faith today can be found in Philippians 4:6-8:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6).

"And" what? And "Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith"


And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

Here's plenty of proof that God has not closed His ears to our cries today. He has not abandoned us. Rather, He urges us to pour out our hearts to Him, to tell Him everything, and not to worry about anything, because He will work all things together for good.

So don't be anxious. Instead, pray about everything — and then think about good things!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8).

**Who can fail to notice the difference between the earlier and later chapters of the book of Acts? In the beginning of Acts, we see the apostles performing extraordinary miracles in Christ’s name, and “to the Jew first” is stamped on every page. When Paul comes on the scene in the middle of Acts, he too performs many miracles, and it was by divine appointment that he went first to “the chief of the Jews” in every place he visited. I believe that the purpose of miracles in the NT was to accredit the Messiah to Israel (or the messenger bringing a message), and not, as generally supposed, to accredit Christianity to the world (Lk19:36-38; Jn 2:11; 10:25, 32, 38; 14:11; 15:24; 2 Cor 12:12). That men were relieved of their sufferings was a loving byproduct, not the main purpose for these miracles. Therefore, as the Jews continued to reject their Messiah and the gospel went out to the Gentiles, miracles greatly decreased and soon entirely ceased.

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