Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why The Promise "Ask and Receive" Is Not Working For Us

It is amazing what the Spirit teaches us when we meditate on God's Word instead of just reading it. Most of us just read and, although we gain a lot of knowledge in our reading, mere facts, we miss the spiritual knowledge. Most of us do not take the time to plumb the depths of verses or passages. If we do anything at all we just read.

Meditating is not a difficult thing. You don't need to enroll in Bible College or have a ton of commentaries hanging around the house. You simply approach the verse or passage in prayer and take it apart. You can write what is on your heart in your own words concerning the verse. Write it out several times, giving the emphasis to a different key word each time. Read it out loud. Read various translations. Do a word search on the main topic words. Ask the Spirit to explain it to you. Make lots of notes.

A verse I was meditating on yesterday is found in John 15:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (v. 7)

The first thing to note is that there is a promise here. The promise is that we can ask for what we wish and it will be given to us. That is a fantastic promise and one that many Christians lean on but few see fulfilled. But this is a promise. Does that make Jesus a liar? Well, I know he is not a liar so what else does this verse say that we may have missed and caused us to misunderstand the promise? Are there any conditions to it? Reading the entire verse I can see there are two conditions related to each other.

If you abide in me.

Abide means to remain, to dwell, to continue with, but it is also an attitude or relationship. It strikes me that to rest in Jesus, to live in him requires that we are loyal to him, obedient. steadfast. It means not being distracted by shiny things, not allowing anything to disturb us like fear or worry. It is a position of trust and dependency. It means not giving ourselves to anyone or anything else. We belong exclusively to Jesus if we are living in him, or abiding. It means no longer living for ourselves because we have become one with him. We want what he wants, our will is submitted to his.

It conveys a oneness with Jesus. If I let my spirit express itself concerning this relationship I hear and feel such words as, dying to my flesh, pleasures, passions, lusts, appetites. My heart felt cry is "I need a new heart." "Transform me Lord!" "Change me!" Then I read:

And my words abide in you.

Again, abide means to remain, to dwell, to continue with. So his Word takes up residence in us, becoming part of us, taking over, shaping, molding, transforming. We begin to live by this Word. It only makes sense as Jesus rebuked the devil with a common Scripture:

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Luke 4:4)

Jesus had also just taught his disciples:

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

We are to be controlled and directed by the Word, governed and set right by it. It is not something we carry around with us in a book. It is not a set of laws. It is a living thing within us that brings life. Yahweh promised to write it on our hearts and we are to bury it there like a seed. The Holy Spirit uses it to encourage, comfort, correct and empower us.

My spirit fills we with words that again describe this oneness with Jesus: owned, possessed, governed, controlled, desiring, seeking, longing, hoping, pursuing, surrendering, casting out, giving, dying. The realization that the direction I am moving in is wrong. I pray, "Your ways O Lord. Your paths. Your truth. I run to you!"

The promise that we would receive what we ask for is obviously based on an incredibly intimate relationship, one of dependence and submission. In such a relationship we would never find ourselves as James described those who lacked from not asking, asking with wrong motivations and asking with doubt. Such a loyal and intimate relationship with Jesus would never allow us to be found in such condition.

From our own selfish perspective we consider this promise of asking and receiving to be about us, for our own gain. However, these two conditions describe such a selfless and intimate relationship with Jesus that asking anything outside of his will seems impossible. Some would say that Father loves to pour blessings out on his children but that comes from a selfish perspective. We have to stop and consider Father's perspective, motivation and the purpose of Jesus.

Jesus did not come showering gifts upon everyone. He came with some really great news and a demonstration of Yahweh's power. He was bent on one purpose, to save the lost. He trained disciples to carry on this mission while he returned to the Father to send us the Spirit. After he opened the doors of forgiveness and eternity via the cross and empty tomb, he gave us the commission to continue on with the great mission of making disciples. For two thousand years men and women who have taken this mission seriously have sacrificed everything for it, including their lives. Yet here we are, two thousand years in, thinking that this promise of ask and receive has to do with mansions and cars. Are we kidding?

The conditions of this promise is an incredibly intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, where we have his commands, his words and are walking in obedience to them. Whatever we need, wish, ask for will be given to us, but keep it in the context of these conditions. If we have such an intimate relationship with Jesus then his priorities will be ours, as will his will and his will is the Father's and the Father's will is that everyone would be saved. Ask whatever you need or wish to fulfill the will of Father and it is yours. It has never been about us, it is about the lost and Jesus' mission to save them. Is this what we are living for?

That is where meditating on the Word gets you, a whole lot deeper than just reading.

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