Friday, 12/10/21 – Knocking or Nagging?

Knocking or Nagging?

Before long most spiritually nourished Christians become familiar with Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The phrase is repeated in Luke 11:9-10 along with the illustration of the persistence of the man seeking loaves at midnight to feed a hungry houseguest. He tells a similar story in Luke 18 regarding a widow woman seeking justice against an adversary. His purpose in the parable is stated at the outset, “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1).

Ask… seek… knock…” All three verbs are gerunds denoting ongoing activity. Yet there are other passages which point to times when one must simply stop.

In one of Paul’s epistles to the Corinthian church he writes of an an undefined “thorn” which beset him, “a messenger of Satan, to harass me,” he says, only later learning its purpose. He recounts “Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

Three times Paul prayed, only three, and then he stopped! What made the difference? Surely he agreed with our Lord’s teaching on persistence. “Pray without ceasing,” he urged the Thessalonians. (1 Thess. 5:17). Yet, here, three times, and he stops.

We must be very humble when we pray, cognizant that we are approaching the Almighty for His answer. We are knocking for there is something we do not know, and want Him to tell or to show us. We must not confuse flesh with Spirit. We must come to Him as Christ also came to the Father — also only thrice — ever willing to say to Him, “Not my will, but Your’s be done.” (Matt. 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, John 6:38).

When His answer is clear, we are done.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Monday, 11/1/21 – Panting through the Pandemic

Panting through the Pandemic

A popular worship song by Maranatha proclaims, “As the deer panteth for the water / So my soul longeth after Thee. / You alone are my heart’s desire / And I long to worship Thee”

The words are those of the sons of Korah, taken from the first verse or two of Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)

The song is a lovely expression of the heart’s longing to reach out to God, an acknowledgment of the pliants need for Him, of one’s reliance and dependence upon Him for life and spiritual sustenance. But it does not grow out of a sense of joyous nearness to Him: in fact, it grows from quite the opposite. It grows from the psalmist’s experience of great absence of His Presence, his experience of a great depression in his soul.

My tears have been my food day and night,” he laments. “I remember…how I used to go to the house of God… with shouts of joy and praise.” But now his acquaintances mock him. “Where is your God?” they scoff.

This son of Korah is bewildered, downcast and very depressed! “Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me? He says to himself “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.” He likens the depth of his soul’s longing to waves and breakers bursting and calling out to what he knows of the ocean depth of God’s goodness and love. He cries out “Why have you forgotten me? / Why must I go about mourning…” and he questions his soul once again “Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me?” He reiterates his former self plea, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Animals both wild and domestic do not need lessons in panting. Thirst immediately prompts the quest for water. Finding it, they instinctively know what to do. This psalm ends with the author still panting… still desperate. He writes another… and concludes it with the very same plea,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me? / Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Ps. 43:5).

Perhaps you are feeling somewhat like him. Four times now we have hoped this pandemic was ending, yet four times this hope turned again to despair… bewilderment… depression. Let me encourage you to persist… to speak challenge to both your weary soul and the souls of others and affirm “I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Believers are in this world Christ’s Ambassadors… light and salt… bearers of hope to a hope-less humanity. Even now you know for Whom you pant. Many others do not. “Come now… rise… let us be going…” (c.f. John 14:31).

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.