JESUS THE INTERCESSOR

When Jesus went off to find some peace and quiet to pray what did he pray about?

If we could have overheard him praying what words and heartfelt thoughts would have reached our ears.  He prayed without distraction, fully intent on purposeful prayer.

While Jesus taught his disciples ‘how’ to pray what we now know as ‘the Lord’s Prayers’ it could easily be called the ‘Disciples Prayer’ as it was a pattern of prayer or an outline of prayer.   Teased out and studied we can see that it is like a series of dot-points and each dot-point has an extension of thought which can run to a deep and meaningful end, depending on the individual who is consciously praying those words.

For example when I pray “Thy Kingdom come”… my thoughts might be vastly different from yours.  Oh, we are basically praying for that future age when Jesus Christ will return and the world will be a better place, but my personal vision and feelings towards that Kingdom would differ from yours.

“Give us this day our daily bread”…those of us who live in our somewhat comfortable western society will consider the need for butter and filling as well as bread, but many in the world today and in times past have prayed for that morsel of bread to satiate their hunger.

But what did Jesus pray?

We don’t have to search far to find out.  In John 17 we have what we might call a word for word transcript of his communication with his Father.  And what do we find he is praying about – among other praises and petitions he is praying for you and me.

John 17:20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

In this prayer we get a real glimpse of Jesus the Intercessor – praying on our behalf.

  • He prays that we might know God personally V3
  • That we might obey, understand and accept God’s word V8
  • He prays for our assurance V10
  • He prays for our protection and our unity V11
  • He prays for our joy V13
  • He prays for our sanctification V17
  • He prays for us to enthusiastically preach his word V18

Jesus is about to go to his Father.  This meant his painful death would be over and he would be the first to enter into eternal life making it possible to be with his Heavenly Father for ever.  On the other hand Jesus had grown very close to his disciples and showed great emotion in John’s gospel concerning his separation from them.   It would be like a parent leaving their children behind and being concerned that they would be alright.  So Jesus prayed for them and left them in his Father’s care, knowing that his Father loved them and would care for them.

Perhaps we can learn a lot from Jesus the Intercessor.  Try this!

Write down a few names on a list and pray for each individual using the example or even the words that Jesus used in John 17.  Pray for them as Jesus prayed that they might be ‘one’ with the Father and Jesus and also with you in the one Love, the one Hope that God might be Glorified.

Lainie Pickering

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Running the Race

Running the Race

Join me today as we with many other contestants take our positions for the Race of a Lifetime….

There are thousands gathered here from all around the world.  The air of expectation is electric as spectators of all ages sit high in the arena surrounding the company of contestants, who are straining with every fibre of their being to make it to the finish line, which stretches away down the track.

We’ve trained for so long for this event.  It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, but with all our training we could scarcely believe that we should have been selected to enter the race.  Our selection has given us confidence.  Our first hope had been in being selected, but now our ‘hope’ is in winning, gaining the victory, the prize – or at least we will try our best to finish the course.  The attitude to our goal stirred within us a vision of achievement; but attitude must be built on aptitude and we needed to be well prepared and practised for this momentous race.

We are running now and although this race is only short, we begin to feel as though it will never end.  Tiredness has begun to take its affect, bringing self-doubt and pain –  oh how we would love to stop and give it all up,,,  What are we doing it for anyway?   What is it worth…?  But what’s that sound.  A mighty roar is coming from the stadium.  All the spectators are there, frantically urging us on.  Momentarily we glance up and recognise who they are.  They have all previously contested in the same race on many different occasions. There’s Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Rahab the harlot, Samson, Jeptha, David, Samuel and so many more…a great cloud of witnesses.

Suddenly we feel lighter.  Running seems easier. We drop our self-doubt and feel propelled by the roar of the encouraging crowd and up ahead we seen Jesus, holding the finish line with a banner overhead, marked with the word ‘GRACE’.  Do we imagine it or is the banner moving closer towards us?  We have put in our best and Jesus, through ‘grace’ is making it easier for us to reach that finishing line!

Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

While the world around us focus on athletics and other sports, we too are running a race that is of a far greater significance, for a “crown of glory that fades not away”. 1Peter 5:4.  Let us be encouraged and encourage others to be single minded in their race for Eternal Life.

Lainie Pickering

God Sings

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God Sings                                                                                                          

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

God is singing to express His joy.  The Hebrew phrase “He will rejoice over you with singing” is translated, “He rejoices over you with shouts of joy”.   Here God’s singing parallels the singing of His people.  In Zephaniah 3:14 we read, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion!”  The poem begins with the people of Jerusalem singing praise to God and ends with God singing praise over His people. God rejoices with His people and expresses joy when His people praise Him.

Why is God joyful? This passage in Zephaniah speaks of a future time when God has ended His judgement on Israel.  The prophet is speaking of the Kingdom Age when Jesus is reigning with his people in Jerusalem.  We read in Isaiah 9:6-7 To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

This beautiful verse in Zephaniah 3:17 is a word picture full of emotion.  God, as a Father is holding his daughter Israel and is singing joyfully to her.  As a loving father cradles his child and sings out of love so God’s song over His people is borne of great love.  They have endured hard times and the LORD dries their tears, comforts their hearts and welcomes them into the Kingdom that He has planned for them from creation.

God’s deep and abiding love for Israel has been extended to us.

Jesus taught us that ‘there is joy before the Angels of God over one sinner who repents’. Luke 15:10. Whether God Himself sings with the Angels we are not told but clearly the Angels are worshipping in His presence when those who have been lost repent and are made right with God.

We are told in Ephesians that it is by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.

It is easy to close our minds to the Father’s love.  Although we believe we can still keep God at a distance.  We pray to Him, sing of Him, read His word but still feel He is way out there and not very near to us.  Nothing could be further from the Truth? Sometimes our troubles are so big that we might think the solutions are impossible even for God and sometimes we think they are so small that we don’t want to worry God with our paltry concerns.  There is nothing too big or too small for God.  He holds the seas in the palm of His hand and He has counted all the hairs on our head and ‘whoops’ He just saw another sparrow fall. 

The LORD God who creates our emotions, also experiences emotion.

In Zephaniah, “rejoice over you” literally means dance, skip, leap and spin around in joy.  The LORD dances with shouts of joy over His people.  Can we imagine the LORD God dancing and singing over us with shouts of joy?

The LORD sings!  Imagine that!  Does He sing all four parts at once or does that wonderful glorious voice sound like a whole choir with chords and discords, major and minor keys that our ears have never yet heard? Such melody!  And it is with singing He soothes and quiets us.

How much emotion do we allow our hearts to expend when we worship, praise and glorify Him?  If we can create a mental picture of the LORD God, the Creator of the Universe drawing us closer to Him, perhaps we might see Him expressing His love through joyful dancing and singing.  Can we find it in our hearts to respond with exuberant joy?lifting our hearts and hands and voices let us then make a joyful noise to the LORD.

Lainie Pickering

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WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN

It is not uncommon to hear someone say that they cannot believe in God now because ‘bad’ things have happened to them or to someone close to them. 

It is quite true that some folks have some terrible things happen to them. Illness, grief through the death of a love one, the loss of a child, a broken down relationship, an accident – and the list can go on and on.  It is also true that it is hard to understand ‘why’ ‘bad’ things happened or even keep your faith when things are difficult to bear.  Sadly some are unable to hold onto their faith and they turn aside from God. 

Perhaps the question we really need to ask is…”Does it help…not believing in God”.  Or; “Are bad things going to stop happening because I have decided that God is no longer a part my beliefs?” 

We may not fully understand why ‘bad’ things have happened but believing that there is someone who cares can be vital.  If we had a friend, family member or spouse would we blame them for the things that make us sad in life…are they responsible.  What we expect from them is that they care about our loss and our sadness. 

God cares and feels our pain but as long as we are human we will fall down, crack up, get sick, have accidents and yes, even die.  Immortality can fix this and the only way we can achieve immortality is by believing that “God IS real and that He will reward those who diligently seek him”.

That’s what FAITH is – believing that God is and that our lives are in His hands – even if we die.  We seem to want to look at the reward and not look to the Rewarder.  We think if good things happen we are receiving a reward and if bad things happen the reward is being denied us.  Believing in the gift is not the objective but believing in the Rewarder is.  He is the one who has the power to reward and strengthen us.  Being human is stressful at times there’s no denying that.  The Rewarder has the power to change everything, even our humanity.

For my part I am happier believing God is watching over us in good times and bad.  Not believing does not HELP.  It cannot make ‘bad’ better – but it can make it less scary.  We need someone with us when times are scary and believing God, Jesus and the angels are always present means we can do – sad, bad and scary because we don’t have to do it alone.

Lainie Pickering