Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Redemption

You cannot truly intercede through prayer if you do not believe in the reality of redemption. Instead, you will simply be turning intercession into useless sympathy for others, which will serve only to increase the contentment they have for remaining out of touch with God. -- Oswald Chambers

A friend, here in Baltimore, quoted that on Facebook.  That got me thinking about privilege we have with prayer.  It’s the opportunity to reach out to God and converse about what matters to us, what troubles us, what has blessed us, what confuses us, anything we choose.

Picture yourself in a courtroom or in the boss’s office.  You need to talk about a situation.  You wouldn’t waste time talking about the weather or telling a joke.  You wouldn’t suggest how a certain set of circumstances ought to be ignored, even though the law and/or the outcome of those circumstances don’t allow it.  You’d get right to the point.  But consider how many of us do exactly that with God.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV)  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

That gets ignored far too often, even by those of us who recognize that truth.  We can ask for accountability and justice to be put aside as an expense of promoting grace and mercy.  And that’s not often in our own best interests, even if we think it is. 

Philippians 1:9-11 (KJV)  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
 
1 Timothy 2:8 (KJV)  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Those two verses, when placed together, create an interesting picture.  There is a spiritual chain of events that’s almost cyclical.  We love God and the Body, because of that we study more (2 Timothy 2:15) so that we can know more about God and receive His grace (2 Peter 3:18) and have the discernment that gives us proper conclusions about what we see and hear.  That discernment allows us to put a spiritual stamp of approval on those things that line up with the mind of God.  We then have a heart attitude that keeps our actions in unity with God’s thinking. 

Think about Galatians 5:22-25.  It tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”. The fruits of righteousness, of the Spirit, are given us by Jesus for God’s glory.  Which takes us right into the next verse.  There should be prayer everywhere.  No limitations of where, no limitations of which level of believer, no limitations of how to pray.

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
 
That’s the result of God not putting limits on our prayer and worship.  And it precludes the hollow sympathy mentioned by Chambers in our starting quote.  It also highlights something else.  I wrote a post titled “King or Friend?”, back in 2008.  It spoke of a very interesting reality spotlighted by our relationship with God.  If we have someone who has authority over our life, that authority does not engender love for them.  But, if someone has shown themselves to be a friend, they automatically have been given an authority in our life because of that love and friendship.
 
We give God that preeminence in our life because He already demonstrated that love for us.  Likewise, God already knows our heart, so He gives us freedom to live in Hebrews 4:16.  God already knows how flawed our perceptions are and that we’re likely to hit moments of sentimentality that have us asking for grace and mercy to ignore justice.  We don’t want to “ask amiss” (James 4:3), out of familiarity with God.  At the same time we are no longer condemned by asking wrongly (Romans 8:1). 
 
That boldness coming to God’s throne allows for mistakes.  In the balance scale of justice, God knows our hearts compared to our misunderstandings.  A wrong prayer from a right heart has more power than a right prayer from a wrong heart.  Prayer, while a tool for communication with God, is really something else.  It’s a gift from God as another way to develop our relationship with Him.  In the end, everything He gives us is a demonstration of His love for us and His desire to have a mutual relationship with us.  Our friend in God becomes ruler of our heart.  His love is our redemption.

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