Praying with Proper Expectations
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
When people say they're confused about prayer, most of the time they're really not confused about what to pray for or how to pray, but are actually confused on what they should expect God to do in behalf of their prayers. God is dealing with us differently today than he had with the nation of Israel. Today, God is dealing with us through right division and Pauline dispensational truth. And because of this difference, our prayers are affected. A lot of times people say that since they are now understanding the Bible according to right division and Pauline dispensational truth, they don't know how to pray anymore and don't know what to pray for. Because of this, I want to resolve these questions, not in total detail, but as a general subject of prayer. In fact, what I want you to get out of everything I'm going to say today, is the proper expectation you should have toward prayer.
Paul expected God to do something here (referring to Romans 15:30-32), I believe, and he asked the people at Rome to pray for him in specific ways because of some things that he faced. Now we don't have the time to cover all the historical background about this, so there's going to be a lot of things I'm going to say that are going to require you to have some knowledge already on how the book of Acts closes, because that's what Paul's praying about. He's writing the book of Romans at Acts Chapter 20 about verse 3. And from Acts Chapter 20:3, and by what follows, Paul knew he was facing some problems at Jerusalem. You can read historically how those problems were worked out in Acts 21 through 28. But before this, Paul is praying because he knows he faces some difficulties and he asks the people at Rome to pray about it. So, from this, we're going to learn something about prayer and also, the expectation of prayer. This not only requires you to have some knowledge about the historical working out of Paul's trip to Rome, but there's also some things to study. We've laid the ground work in last three weeks before coming to the topic of prayer; some things that make a difference about prayer, and how God works in response to our prayer today.
First of all, look back to Romans, Chapter 15:15, where it says, “Nevertheless, brethren, I've written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” He goes on to talk about how God used him in word and prayer to preach to the Gentiles. The first foundation that you need to realize is that when God saved Saul of Tarsus in Acts, Chapter 9, he raised him up to be Paul the Apostle of the Gentiles, and when he did, he gave Paul a special revelation called a secret:
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest…
The point is this: Before the Apostle Paul, God involved twelve apostles who ministered to the nation of Israel, but with the conversion of Paul, a change took place in the history of mankind. And that change effects how God is ministering to us now and what God is doing in behalf of prayer in our prayer life. You then need to realize that God is doing something different with Paul and gave to him what he calls there, “the grace given unto him” (Ro 15:15) which is the message of the dispensation of grace ~ what God is doing to and with us today. If God gave that message to Paul, then prayer has to be considered through Pauline revelation. We cannot go back to the twelve apostles ministering to Israel to understand prayer today. We can't go back to the Old Testament times of the prophets and God's program under the law to Israel to find out how God's working in prayer today. If God changed the program, than you need to find out what the program is for today. Since Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, it is in his writings we should understand prayer.
Look now at Romans 15:20, “Yea so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.” There was a ministry going on before Paul. The twelve apostles ministered to the nation of Israel and ministered to them according to what God was doing with Israel in building a Kingdom for them on this earth. Through them, God is going to establish his reign on the earth. When he chose these apostles, he gave to them special prayer promises, which many people run to today and try to tell you that these promises are yours. They love to go to John, Chapter 20 and say that anything you ask in his name he's going to do for you; but if you've been with us in our Wednesday studies (where we're studying the book of John) from Chapter 13, to the end of the book of John, Jesus Christ is exclusively ministering to the twelve apostles preparing them for the authority they're going to have in this earth when he goes away. You cannot take a promise like that and claim it yourself without stealing what Jesus Christ said to somebody else and not to you. So, when Paul says he was careful not to build upon another man's foundation, you've got to be careful how you build on that foundation. If God gave a revelation to Paul for us, then don't go to the other men's foundation and build your prayer life. Go to the program that's for us Gentiles. Realize that God is doing something different for us and it effects prayer promises.
Now go down to verse 25 in Chapter 15, it says, “But now I go to Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it has pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” We spent time last week showing that under the prophetic program there is no prophecy concerning an age of grace wherein it states that in 2000 years God is going to bring the gospel to Gentiles and save all who would believe the gospel of Christ. There is no talk about that under the Jewish program. Under the Jewish program they were preparing for wrath to come to this world. And when you read the book of Revelation, the antichrist is going to take over the money system of this world. So Jesus Christ began to teach his disciples (under their prophetic program of prophecy) to sell their possessions and to give their money away. And when you read the early part of the book of Acts, you see the believers did that. But when God changed the program, and delayed the coming, Peter tells the Jewish people that God did it because he's not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). So what you see with God delaying the program is not his being delinquent in his promise, or taking away his promise, but his postponing the second coming of Christ and the kingdom that will come when Jesus Christ comes back because God wants people saved.
God sent Paul out with the message, “ Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:21), not the day of wrath. And you know, those Jewish people could be proud of the fact that they had to suffer a little bit and that their Kingdom didn't come as soon as they thought it was going to come because God in his grace is rich unto all that call upon him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (RO10:13). So they could rejoice in that. At the same time, they didn't have any money any more. And on top of that, there's a drought taking place. The people who had a little bit of savings could live off of that, but the poor saints at Jerusalem didn't have any money. So Paul is taking up a collection for Jerusalem in the last part of Acts; not as a welfare for everybody who lives in the city, but for the poor saints at Jerusalem ~ the believers who had given up their money.
In Romans 15:26-27, he mentions the people in Macedonia and Achaia, the Gentile churches who were sending money as a relief to the saints at Jerusalem , “it has pleased them varily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” The Gentile duty is to minister unto the poor saints at Jerusalem in carnal things . That is finances. But you know, there's a statement there, that we saw last week as well, which is a foundational truth you need to understand. God today has given to us Israel's spiritual blessings: salvation; forgiveness of sins; the adoption of sons; the Holy Spirit; redemption that was promised to the nation of Israel. God has given those things to us. Notice the phrase, “…have been made partaker of their spiritual things.” It doesn't say that we're a partaker of Israel's physical things.
You can go back in the Old Testament and see that God did not just promise Israel spiritual blessings, but he also always dealt with them in physical ways, with physical blessings, with the promise that in the future he would give them the Holy Spirit and give them spiritual blessings. Just at that point when God interrupted his dealings with Israel, he turned to us Gentiles and gave us the spiritual blessings. I'm saved today. Israel was always going to be saved at which point God would began to pour out the spirit and give them of life. I, however, as soon as I believe, am sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. I am redeemed, I am justified, I have the adoption of sons, I'm already a son of God. But your know, that's all spiritual. Physically, I'm still waiting for a resurrected body. This is still a corruptible body and it's not until the future that I'll receive physical blessings. And so there's a foundational truth here that when God turned to us Gentiles, in this dispensation of grace, God has blessed us in spiritual ways.
There are those that talk about the healing, and the financial blessings, the revelations that they hear in their ears and the visions they claim they see with their eyes, but God is not working that way today. Now that's hard for some people to swallow, but that's a fact. A lady called on the phone one day and asked us to remember her in prayer because she was going in for surgery and she asked if I believed God heals. And I told her I know the healing program of God is over because God is not bringing the kingdom to earth at this time, but we would pray for her though. We'll pray for comfort and peace. We'll pray that all goes well, but I said, you know there's no healing today otherwise you wouldn't have scheduled the surgery. Now people understand that. Though they pray one way, they realize God really doesn't seem to be working that way. We're all familiar with the verse that ways whatever you ask in Jesus name God's going to give it to you. And also the verse where the apostles say, whatsoever you ask in my name, I will do it. Whatsoever! Anything you ask, it says. And yet we all know that we've asked some things that's never happened. How come? Because it's not a promise to us. That's a promise to someone else.
The understanding, the foundation that is laid here, is that God changed the program through the revelation of Paul. So, let's follow the program that exists through Paul: (A) We're not built on Israel's foundation so we can't take Israel's prayer promises and (B) God is working today. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. Let's take a look at that with this foundation. Paul says to pray for him. Look at Romans 15:30: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” And now you're going to see the threefold prayer request that Paul is asking for.
#1 “That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea” (verse 31). Paul's going to Jerusalem, and in Judea there are whole bunch of Jews who hate the fact that Paul went to the Gentiles and these people are not the poor saints at Jerusalem ~ these people don't believe. They are unbelievers and Paul knows it's dangerous for him to go to Jerusalem because of his ministry among the Gentiles. These people planned to kill him when he got there, or soon after. So Paul says, pray for me that I might be delivered from them who do not believe in Judea.
#2 And the second part of his prayer, “…that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;” That is, that the Saints at Jerusalem might understand that God is now doing a work among the Gentiles and that God is using Paul among the Gentiles. And that this gift that comes from Gentiles is to be a blessing to Israel. That's so unlike the old Testament. The Old Testament Israel was never to borrow and was to be a blessing to the Gentiles financially and all other ways. But here the Gentiles are helping them with their finances. Paul now says pray that the saints will accept it; that they'll see this is the hand of God .
#3 The third part of his prayer, in verse 32: “…that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God.” “Come unto you” is the third part of his prayer and he puts three things on that: 1) with joy, 2) by the will of God, and 3)may with you be refreshed. Paul wanted to get to Rome. He had not been there yet and when he got there, he wanted to come with joy, he wanted to be there by the will of God and wanted both them and himself to be refreshed as they fellowshipped together.
Now that's the third part of his prayer, that he might arrive at Rome that way. Earlier, in Romans 1:9-10, he talks about how he hasn't been there yet. He says, “ For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” Now I don't know what you think a prosperous journey is, but basically, it's just that he might successfully get there. And, Paul does arrive there. Let's talk about that a little bit. He'll eventually arrive at Rome, but he says, pray, strive with me in your prayers that I may have a prosperous journey. Do you know in both places he said, by the will of God? (Chapter 1 and 15). Do you realize now there are places in the Bible where Jesus Christ spoke directly to the Apostle Paul because he was an Apostle and received direct revelation from Jesus Christ? And that Jesus Christ did reveal, for instance, how Paul should go into Macedonia. Luke writes, “so we surely knew it was of God and went there.” But prior to having that vision, Paul was making plans to go to places when he wasn't sure if it was God's will or not. His conclusion was, if God wills, I'll make it there! If God doesn't will, I won't make it there. He didn't know what the future was. It looked like there was no way Paul was going to make it, in fact, it looked like he was going to die in the sea before ever making it to Rome. Paul didn't know. Only when Jesus Christ appeared to Paul and said he would make it to Rome, did he know what the will of God was.
You know, sometimes we think Paul always knew the will of God, but he didn't always know. But you know what he did? He planned. Twice in Romans he talked about going to Spain; how he was going to go to Rome and then the saints at Rome were to send him to Spain. There's no record in the Bible that he ever made it to Spain. Some try to say he made it there, but there's no record there (they're speaking outside of the Bible). From what I see in the Bible, he didn't make it to Spain because there's no mention of it. Yet, maybe he did because there's no mention, and silence is a hard thing to determine something by. But the point is this, Paul was making plans when he didn't always know how things were going to work out. That's a lot like you, isn't it? So what do you do? You pray about them, and you make your plans and you move on, right? That's what Paul is doing here. He is praying and asking them that they pray with him.
Come over to Philippians, Chapter 4:5. Now we said some other things that you should have heard last Wednesday about this passage but I'm going to refrain from it to stay closer to the topic. However, there are some things you need in order to learn what you have to do to get peace: “Let your moderation be known unto all men, the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication…” (Phil 4:5,6). Now prayer means to ask. By the way, if you say you don't know how to pray, prayer is just talking to God. You know, I was talking to some young believers this week and just reminding them how foolish it is for people who, when they get into a bad situation and say let's pray, and then they quote the Lord's prayer. What in the world does have to do with a problem you're faced with? Isn't it a fact that the Lord said to the apostles to pray therefore after this manner ; not to pray like the heathen do thinking that by much prayer they're going to be heard by using vain repetitions? He said not to do that. (Matt Chapter 6). Yet, people today take the Lord's prayer and use it vainly, repetitiously. And his kingdom coming to earth has nothing to do with what God's doing today.
Prayer is talking to God. And it's not just quoting or reciting something out of the Bible ~ it's calling on God for the things you need in life and desire in life, or need to know in life. You can pray a little bit more intelligently, but the point is, when it says by prayer, prayer means to ask. Supplication means to petition. Sometimes you ask more than once, don't you? Remember this, in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12, Paul prayed three times that the thorn of his flesh might be removed from him. He received a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble because of an abundance of revelation that he got from God. Paul prayed three times that it be taken away and God answered his prayer. You know what he said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And Paul said, “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the powers of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
You know, Paul is a pattern for us in the age of grace. I told you at the beginning that God uses us in our weakness. If he takes away our weakness, it won't be God working in us, we'll do it ourself. But grace is God doing some things in us. Salvation is God saving us: For by grace are ye saved, through faith. Faith in what? That you're good enough to go to heaven? That you're a righteous person? That you've done enough sacraments or religious rituals to make God happy? No, faith is believing that Jesus Christ went to a cross and died on a cross and paid for your sins because if you were left to do it, you'd spend eternity in hell. That's what you deserve. Faith is faith in the work of Jesus Christ. And if you're trusting something else to save you, other than the fact that Christ went to the cross and paid for your sins, God says you're not saved because “By grace are ye saved through faith, and not of yourself, it's the gift of God not of works; lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Salvation is a gift from God that you receive by believing what Jesus Christ did for you. That's why it's not of works. He did the work. If you have to do something to get rid of sin, you're telling God that Jesus Christ didn't quite do it all and you're sure thankful for the part that Christ played in it, but now you're going to do your share. Well, you can't do your share. You're a sinner. You're the one he's saving. You're the one he died for. You need to trust the blood of Jesus Christ: the death, burial and resurrection as the payment for your sins and that God gives you eternal life as a free gift. That's what grace is.
After you get saved, grace is God working in your life. And God works in our weaknesses. If he took away all of our weaknesses, we wouldn't be serving God in grace. Paul says I gladly have the power of Christ rest upon me, I'll gladly glory in my infirmities. That's God's answer to Paul and when you pray about the sicknesses you have, and the infirmities you have, remember God's answer to you is “my grace is sufficient for you.” And it is sufficient. Don't think you have to have it your way in order to serve God. Wouldn't we all say if we had a million dollars and didn't have to go to work tomorrow that we'd serve God more? Yeah, I'd say that a million times. God apparently doesn't believe that. And, you know, I can start to understand more and more how money would take me traveling, do this, do that and the more it would take you away from God. That's why the Bible warns you that those who would be rich fall in a snare. God warns against riches, because it takes you away from God. So, God does work in us.
Supplication. Petition. Paul prayed three times, that's a supplication. Let your request be made known unto God. You know what I want you to understand about prayer? People say they don't know what to pray for. Let your requests be made known unto God. Pray anything you want to pray. You want to pray that it'll rain green cheese tomorrow, go ahead and pray it. I don't understand people when they say don't know what to pray for. Now you're laughing because that's kind of a dumb thing to pray for isn't it? But I think when you start studying the Bible you realize that we've prayed about a lot of dumb things. I used to pray when I was a little kid, “Lord, save everybody in the world” I used to pray that all the time ‘cause I realized that Jesus Christ died on the cross for everybody and that God so loved the world so I prayed for God to save everybody in the world. But God won't do that. You want to know why? God chooses to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). God says I'm giving a gift and my Son died for everybody and I'll save everybody who will trust in my Son.
God's not going to change the program because of a little kid's prayer. I finally realized I didn't have to pray for God to save anybody. Because I knew God would save everybody who would believe in his Son. Now what I need to do is pray for certain people that they'll trust the gospel. And, perhaps, not just pray about it, but go to work and make sure they hear the gospel so they can hear and be saved. The Bible says, how can they call on the name of the Lord if they haven't heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Yes, I can learn to pray a little more intelligently, but it doesn't hurt to pray to God to save everybody in the world, does it? I can let my request be made known. It's just a little bit foolish. I can gain some understanding later. But as far as prayer, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. So you can pray for anything and that's what Paul's doing there in Romans where he says pray that I might be delivered from those who believe not; that my gift might be accepted by the saints and that I might come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed by you. Paul is letting his request be made known.
Now how to pray. Here's where the rub starts. I'm just going to say some things that you should just understand and know, and if you think about these things you'll go a little bit further from just praying and asking to doing so with a little bit more understanding ~ not just in what you can pray for (you can pray about anything) but how you ought to pray. You ought to pray according to what you know God's will is. For instance, understand this, God cannot lie. The Bible tells us that. He is doing, and he will do everything he said he would do for you as a believer in this age of grace. Now understand that. God will do everything he said he would do for you in this age of grace. A lot of times we're asking him to do something he hasn't said he would do, aren't we? Now that's not quite an intelligent prayer. But, just count on the fact that God will always do what he said he would do.
God is under no obligation to do for you what he promised others….no matter how hard you believe it. We don't obligate God. Now some people don't like this because they say God can do anything. Yes, God can turn you green tomorrow if he wanted to, right? But I haven't read anywhere in Bible that he wants to do that. However, do you know what God is obligated to do? He is obligated to do what he said he would do. Do you know why I know for certain I'm going to heaven? Because God said the day that you believe on my Son, I declared you righteous; you are justified; you are sanctified; you are saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption. I'm going to heaven because God obligated himself to his word. He told me if I trusted in His son, I am saved. Not will be. I am saved. Now I didn't obligate God to do that, God obligated himself by his word. And so God is faithful to his word but God is under no obligation to do for you what he promised someone else. That's why some prayer promises don't work. He never said it to you and no matter how hard you believe him to give you finances or wisdom or a vision or whatever else, God's under no obligation, and you can't move God. God's going to do what he said he's going to do. And it's not up to you to decide what you want him to do. So you're best just to read the Bible and find out what God is doing.
When you read the Bible, you find out that God has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Now we've already been talking about this but understand how this goes. Some people say, well, I've sinned and I asked God to forgive me. And I always ask, what did he say? It's foolish for you to ask God to forgive you your sins, you know why? Look in your Bible, Ephesians, Chapter 1:7, “In whom (in Christ) we have (not shall get) redemption.” Redemption means a payment of a price. He paid for our sins. And his blood was the payment for our sins…that's why it says through his blood. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Now that verse tells me that not only do I have redemption, but I have something else, don't I? I have forgiveness of sins. Why would I ask God for something he already told me he gave me? See, God already said there are some things that I have. He says I am already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:3) “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption . Let all bitterness, and wrath and anger, and clamour and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ sake hath forgiven you ” (Eph. 4:30-31). God will do everything he said he would do. And I'm already forgiven. Now we could get into the arguments and the statements, but all it is further clarification. If you sin after you're saved, should you feel sorry for that sin? Absolutely. Should you be ashamed of it? Absolutely. Do you have to ask God to forgive you in order to get forgiven? No. The way I deal with it, I say, Lord, thank you for the forgiveness. It's another indication to me how I do not deserve it and how gracious he is according to his riches in Grace. But as far as begging and asking God, there are some things God has already given me and those things are listed.
Another thing you need to know (look at Ephesians, Chapter 3) is the way God is working today. And this is extremely important to understand, especially as you think about how God is going to respond to your prayers. Before the Apostle Paul, when God was dealing with Israel, he was working ON Israel. He even poured out the Holy Spirit on the believing remnant of Israel. But when we get saved today, God puts his holy spirit IN us. And we are placed into the body of Christ. And my point to you is that God today is not working on us, but in us. Look at these verses, these are real important. Ephesians 3:14, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”. Now this riches of his glory has to do with God's grace to you. God is rich unto all who call upon him, as we learned in the book of Romans. He saved you. It's the spiritual blessings that you have in Christ. And Jesus Christ has given this to us from heaven's glory ~ he has given us these things and Paul is praying here that God would grant unto you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man.”
God's not strengthening your body today. You know, a lady called this last week and said she was beginning to see that God's not really healing all the time, but she believed that God will heal. And I asked if he'd heal all believers, and she said yes. And heal believers of all times? Again she said yes. So I asked her why Peter and John weren't here today. How come all the people from Bible days are dead? How come at age 70 or 80 or 90, if we're lucky, 100, after that we all die? If God is still healing we could live and be a thousand years old, couldn't we? And she said something to the effect that maybe they didn't have enough faith or something. She started backing off of that. The point is, God is not working today on the outer man. He's working on the inner man, strengthening you with all might according to his spirit in the inner man. Verse 17: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, that passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. “ You know how God's working today? He's working in you. You need to know that because when you pray, sometimes we pray things like: make my car run; may I get a raise at work; we're asking God to work out here when God is working in here. And if you follow Paul's prayers, he's always talking about God in your life. God's power in you. God working in you spiritually, not physically.
Now, come over to Philippians 4. After he talked about prayer, look down in verse 10, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again,; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want.” Paul is saying that these people have met a need he had. In Phil. 4:11-13, an offering came to him to help him in his financial need, yet Paul says, “Not that I speak in respect of wants: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Notice the state he is talking about) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where (wherever he goes) and in all things (every situation he finds himself) I am instructed (God tells him this) both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Now notice the next verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”You know, people keep thinking they can do powerful, mighty works through Christ that strengthens them. But Paul says he's learned everywhere he goes and whatever situation he's in, he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, because he's learned how to be hungry, he's learned how to be abased, to be humbled in humility: being let down by a rope in a basket and having to flee; being put in jail and be beaten and imprisoned . Paul knows what it's like to be cold in a dungeon cell. You know what? God wasn't working ON him.
Deliverance. You know everyone talks about that kind of stuff ~ Paul knows what it means to be strengthened with all might by God's spirit in the inner man. I can do it. I can be hungry. Not that God will supply the food, but when he says he's strengthened, he's strengthened by God strengthening the inner man: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”, “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epahroditus the things which were sent from you”….so he knows how to be full, too. They brought some things, “…an odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need (not all your needs) according to ( now notice what it's according to) according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”(Phil. 4:18-19). When you read about the riches in Christ in glory, the riches of the Gentiles is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. God will supply all your need. You know what your need is? If you don't have food, how to suffer that way. That's your need. Not that you need food. You need to glorify God in your abasement. God can do that. God works in our weaknesses. So if you know that this is the area that God is working in, then you know what to expect in prayer. God's going to strengthen you.
Now you get two extremes here and I really have these listed out very well, but we don't have time to get to them, so I'm going to say them briefly. But I really thought about each extreme. (1) One extreme pretty much is this: God will always do for you physically, materialistically, give you protection, all those types of things. That God will answer your prayers in that way. Then (2)the extreme of those who understand that God is working today in a spiritual way, and that those promises aren't given to us but given to Israel, so they say God will never help you outside of yourself. He'll only help you in your mind and your inner man, but as far as money, finance, and guidance and maybe protection, God never does any of that. If you start talking in these ways, we know in the first extreme, it's off doctrine; and in the second extreme, we know there's some truth to it. But never, always ? I'm not so sure about that. The reason I say I'm not so sure about that is because the Apostle Paul prayed for some of these things there in Romans, didn't he? He prayed about making it to Rome; deliverance from the lost people; and his ministry to be accepted by the Saints. He even prayed about what would happen among the lost. And then among the believer. And then, by the will of God, making it to Rome. But you know, when you read the book of Acts, do you know what happened? When he got there, his ministry was accepted by the Saints, but those unbelievers didn't like him too much, they caused a riot; they beat him; and he was put in prison for over two years. He escaped out their hands only when he appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome as a prisoner. So he did escape them, but that's not the way we thought God would answer that prayer. The other thing is, when he was on his journey to Rome, he did have a prosperous journey. He made it successfully but only after being brought there as a prisoner, suffering shipwreck, being lost at sea for over two weeks and swimming to shore where he gets bitten by a poisonous snake. But he did end up at Rome ~ under house arrest. He got there and was refreshed by the Saints. So, you know, God didn't quite do it the way we thought God was going to do it, but it did happen.
You know, when Paul was on his way, everybody was saying that Paul should not go to Jerusalem; that bonds and afflictions awaited him. They kept saying that. In fact, one time it says the men spoke by the spirit of God saying Paul should not go to Jerusalem. But Paul asks, why are you breaking my heart, making me weep, I'm ready to go to Jerusalem and die there if I have to. They couldn't stop Paul from going and you know what these men said, after they couldn't convince Paul not to go there? They said, the will of the Lord be done. Well, what did they mean by that? I think the will of God wasn't for Paul to go there, but he went anyway. But, when they said, “the will of God”, you know what I think they're saying? It's in God's hands. We've done our best to persuade him not to go. He's determined to go. We'll just leave the outcome to God ~ as if God has his hand in some things. When Paul wrote to the Saints and he says that Epaphroditus was nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him, some people say, see, God still heals! But God having mercy on him means he let him live. He spared his life. It doesn't mean that he was miraculously healed. In fact, Epaphroditus is going back still weak from his sickness. There was no healing there, but he did recover. And when he recovered, Paul didn't say God didn't have any hand in it, he said God had mercy on him and not on him only, but on himself also.
You know, I'm still convinced from scripture that our life is in the hand of God. Paul didn't get too extreme in seeing things. He didn't always understand the will of God. But they did put a lot of things in God's hands. And things worked out and you know what they learned? Not only that God's grace is sufficient, they learned in Thessalonians 5:18, “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. You don't know in every situation how things should work out, or even how you ought to pray. But when it's all done, good or bad, (and bad things do happen to you), you look back and realize God was with you through those situations. In everything give thanks because that's the will of God in Christ concerning you. You don't have to figure out all the details of life and all the things you can't understand, but you need to know the Lord is with you through it all. And you need to know to give thanks in all things. That's God's will for you. That should be our attitude of prayer. God will be with you through everything that you go through. His grace is sufficient. And you're to give thanks in all things even as you go through it and even afterwards.
Our God, and our Father, we pray that we don't ever get ahead of you and speak when you don't speak. But, Father, we pray that we'll study your Bible so that we can know for sure what you said you will do and count on you to do it. Father we thank you that you've given us all spiritual blessings. We're already saved if we've trusted in your Son. If there's any one here who hasn't, may today be the day that they understand how much you did love them, and how much you're willing to save them and that all they must do is put their faith in the blood of your Son as the payment of their sins and you will immediately give them eternal life. And, Father, we who are saved, may we never doubt the strength that you've given us through your Holy Spirit and by your word, to live under all the situations we're faced with in life as we go through them and as we look back afterwards. Father, may we always be thankful to you. In the name of the Lord Jesus we pray. Amen
Transcribed and edited, Tape #42