Tuesday, August 28, 2018

God's Great Steering Wheel

I have taught my four sons to drive. 
That teaching began when they were quite small. They would sit on my knee behind the steering wheel as we drove deserted country roads or the longish driveway from the front gate to the carport.

They had their hands on the steering wheel and (mostly) looked out the front window as we travelled. They thought they were driving the car and it was totally in their control.


But, of course, I was driving the car, deciding where we were going and how fast we were travelling. I also decided on how much force I allowed my son to exert on the steering wheel, depending on whether he was trying to direct us where I had previously decided to go or not.

Our prayer life is a bit like this.
God knows where He is going and how fast He wants to get there. And He does allow us, indeed invites us, to put our hands on the steering wheel. How much effect we have on the steering wheel depends on whether we are heading in the same direction He is or not.

So if we want to be effective in prayer, we need to be on the same page God is. We need to know His will regarding the subject of our prayer so we can pray "in Jesus' Name" and be gently placing our hands on His steering wheel.


Praying for something that is not in God's will is as useless as my son trying to pull the steering wheel in a different direction to where I have chosen to go. I will just "out-pull" him with my stronger grip.

So how do we know God's will?
First, we need to know what God has revealed about His intentions in His Word.
Second, we need to spend time (in prayer) asking God what he wants us to pray for before we begin asking for things to be done.

I often answer the question, "How do you get all your prayers answered?" with the one-word instruction, "Cheat!"
Find out what God is planning to do, and pray for it to happen.

A beautiful example of this cheating is demonstrated by Daniel in the Old Testament.

... I was studying the sacred books and thinking about the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins, according to what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah. [Daniel 9 : 2]
What had Jeremiah prophesied?
This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [Jeremiah 25 : 11]
and
For Yahweh says, “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29 : 10, 11]


With this information about God's plan, Daniel continues :

And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God . . . [ Daniel 9 : 2, 3 ]
You can read the whole prayer in the following verses.
A Biblical example of cheating! Knowing God's plan and praying for it to happen.

We need to gently place our hands on God's Great Steering Wheel if we are to get all our prayers answered, and be effective co-workers with Christ in His kingdom.


Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Step On The Way

Because this Blog is centred around God's extravagant grace, most of the posts touch on some aspect of the eventual, universal, reconciliation of mankind to God; which fulfills God's role as the Saviour of the world. (1 Tim 4 : 10)
Today's post highlights the salvation of Israel, a step on the way to the salvation of the world.

There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, like Psalm 130 : 8 and Psalm 103 : 2 - 3, together with King David's confidence of his expectation to be "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" in Psalm 23.

In the New Testament, the most descriptive mention of this event is in Romans 11, just after Paul illustrates God's faith community using his wonderful Olive Tree allegory.
He tells us that although Israel has stumbled, she will not be rejected, nor has she fallen beyond recovery.
In fact, God has used her stumbling to bring salvation to the Gentile, the non-Jewish, nations in order to make Israel envious or jealous.

Paul then says ...

"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved."
So Israel will be saved after the full number of Gentiles has come in.

Come in to what?
The context of Romans 11 is the Body of Christ, God's faith community, the disciples or followers of Jesus, illustrated by an olive tree.
So when the Body of Christ is complete, then all Israel will be saved.


(Paul is not talking about the salvation of the world at the end of time, at the consummation of the ages. He is talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers who are chosen as a first group, before the kingdom ages begin, for life and administration responsibilities in those coming ages.)


And we are living in the era or age when the Body of Christ is being filled; so at the end of this age, when this filling is completed, all Israel will be saved.
Looking at the world situation, and the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to imagine how this event might happen.
I certainly don't know *how* it will happen: all I know is that it will - because God's Word has declared it. And even that is a strain for many people.

Let me illustrate.
Suppose a mother says to her child, "You will be in bed by 7.30 pm.".
The child starts thinking, "How does she know that? There's no way that's going to happen. I still haven't finished my homework, I haven't fed the dog yet, or cleaned my teeth."
So how does mother know?
She knows because she has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

So how does God know that all Israel will be saved?
He knows because he has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

We have a role to play in completing the Body of Christ. That's one of the reasons we have been called, chosen early, before the rest of the world who come to God later.

One aspect of that role is sharing the good news that God loves us and does not count our sins against us - because Jesus has already died for the sins of the world.
When we share God's good news, others who have been chosen to complete the Body of Christ will hear it, be given the faith to believe it, be drawn to Christ and added to his Body - in the same way we were.

Each time that happens the Body of Christ will get that bit nearer to completion and Israel's salvation will be that bit nearer too.
When all Israel are saved, the next part of God's plan for his creation, the kingdom ages, will commence with the Olive Tree having administration responsibilities that we are currently in training for.

Blessings, Barry