“It would be better if [Christians doubting the grace in their lives] spent their time in praying, and asking Christ for more grace, instead of bestowing complaints of their supposed gracelessness!”
– Richard Baxter
1615 – 1691
Pass me not, O gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by
As I sing this song this evening, I have a picture of Bartimaeus sitting by the side of the road crying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me!” It is so rare that I hear that kind of desperation in people’s prayers today. Especially when praying for others, I tend to hear monotone prayers, with words such as “Lord, be with _____ as he (or she) goes through surgery,” “Save _____,” “Be with us this coming week,” etc. Rarely do I hear people literally crying out to God, “Please save my loved ones. Don’t let them perish. Show me if there is anything I can do or say to help them find you.” Prayer should be more than a daily or weekly ritual; it should be a time when we enter God’s presence and present our petitions, knowing that He hears and expecting that He will answer as we pray in accordance with His will.
There are times I pray for a loved one, and I am not sure what God’s will is. This is especially true when a friend has a terminal sickness. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God can heal, even from Stage 4 cancer, but I also know He often doesn’t. During these times, I will still pray for healing until I am convinced that that is not His will. Then I pray for strength for the family to walk through the difficult time ahead.
God is not obligated to answer every prayer. I know that. But He has told me to ask, so ask I do. And I ask in faith, knowing that He hears me and that He will do what’s best for me and my loved ones.
Right now, I have a friend who deals with a lot of pain and sleepless nights. I am praying for His healing but I also know that God’s strength is made perfect through weakness. If God chooses not to heal my friend, He will use the pain to make my friend stronger and draw my friend closer to Him. Although we often refuse to look at it this way, pain with God close by is far better than a youthful body that lives apart from God.
In closing tonight, I just want to remind you that Jesus is very near. Present your needs to Him as if He is sitting or standing beside you, because He is. Then, when you’ve presented your requests, take some time to listen. At the very least, you may feel His peace and His presence, but you might even hear His voice as He speaks comfort or gives you direction. Then be sure to thank Him for not passing you by. He is such a good God. I’m so thankful to know Him.
I am Thine, O Lord
I have heard Thy voice
And it told Thy love to me
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee
You have not experienced love until you’ve known the love of Jesus. Human love pales in comparison to the One who never sleeps nor slumbers. He is not moody but is available to listen any time, day or night. If you can even grasp a little of just how much Yahweh loves you, it should make you want to please Him in everything you do.
I was born in the 1970s, and some of the songs of that era have been running through my head lately. Songs of love for God and for each other. But I also think of songs like:
O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
When I think about the deep love of Jesus, I am ready to run into His arms, but then I remember that sin cannot dwell in His presence. What to do! My pride could keep me from Him as I determine to do better so that He will accept me but, alas, no matter what I do, I will never be good enough. The solution then is to humble myself, fall at His feet, confess my sins and my struggles, and turn them over to Him to get rid of for me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
Oh, the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
What a relief! I never knew I could experience such joy! Why didn’t I surrender sooner? I can’t think of one good reason.
You see, sometimes life is hard because we make it that way. We “look for love in all the wrong places” as the old song says, when we should be looking to God to fill the voids in our lives. Every once in a while, life gets hectic, and I neglect to spend much time with Him, and I feel the difference. Not always right away but there comes a point when everything is “off,” and I realize I have not stayed as close to the Shepherd as I should have. Thankfully, He is always there to welcome me back. He just wants me to understand that, without Him, my life would be empty. I remember life before really knowing God, and there is no way I desire to return. That’s why I sing:
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord to the cross where Thou hast died
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to Thy precious bleeding side
The sermon this morning was on Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” As I listened to the message, I wondered how many Christians truly think about that. So many go through life just existing, getting through life because they have to, so they miss the eternal purpose that God created them for. The fact is that God allowed everyone on earth to be born for a purpose. Sadly, few really fulfill that purpose.
Although it’s necessary to work to pay our bills, there is a reason God has you at your job. Your family may be hard to get along with but there is a purpose for you being a part of that family. Nothing happens by accident. Maybe the purpose is simply so that God can draw you closer to Himself. Maybe it is so that you can be a Light to people who need some hope. Whatever the reason, it is not a small thing.
If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I struggle … more than I should really. God has been so good to me and has made it very clear that He plans to use me, but it’s easy to lose sight of that. How it must grieve Him, though. It is such an honor to be called by the Almighty God, who can change a life or a situation with just a word and yet, often, He chooses to use an imperfect human and entrust us with tasks that He could better do Himself.
Maybe you are struggling to figure out what your purpose is. Let me just encourage you that you have one. I can’t tell you why God hasn’t revealed it to you but I will tell you that, if you stay close to Him, willing to surrender everything that He asks of you, He will direct you if you listen. The second step to that is being willing to obey. Sometimes I think we are convinced God isn’t speaking when the truth is that we don’t like what He is saying and so we stop our ears and convince ourselves that the voice we’re hearing can’t be God. I agree that it’s important to know that you are hearing God’s voice before you step out to do the impossible but, if you aren’t willing to step out in faith when He asks you to, you will miss so much that God has for you.
I hope you will take some time today to examine your life and ask yourself: Are you living or just existing? Are you walking through life full of joy, knowing that your Father walks with you, or are you barely getting through each day, living for the weekend when you can unplug from your daily tasks?
Ask God to fill your heart with more of Him so that it is no longer you that lives but Christ who lives in you. As you open your heart to Him, you will begin to see through His eyes and will find that satisfaction that your heart longs for.