W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
There is a time when creation seems to loom on one's own shoulders. That is, there is a need, almost a necessity to create. It seems to rise like a spring, descend at times more like a cataract, plead like a dog's eyes when it senses the hunt is near. It seems to require that created things be flung to the winds, like trees, till they populate a territory and form a wood!
There are seasons in the affairs of men, and women. There is a time when laziness seems a delight, by the murmuring sea, the encompassing oceans of such duration, perhaps 10000 years, who knows. They lap and erode, so that the days of their action, and that of their aqueous allies, have more recently been counted in terms of thousands of years, so that some land forms may be left intact.
But there is a time. There is a time for growth and for rest, for delight and for review. There is no time for sin; that is a waste of time.
There is time for clouds, slowly
to mature, or briskly to be swept in gusts celestial; for rain to frown
in the making, and to teem in the sending, to gently touch the soil like
a lover's caress, or to pelt onto it with a disregard in its immensity,
while the earth solemnly, yes soberly, accepts what is unbosomed from the
A TIME TO PRAY
There is a time to pray, yes and Paul makes it clear that this is CONTINUALLY. It is not how many times per day; it is how much ground is covered. It is not the duration, it is the expression, the faith, the certitude, the informed character of it, the faith ground for it and the soaring help given to it. It is not always so. Sometimes there is a constraint to pray with care, as if a teacher were showing a student the need of more neatness, order, organisation. At other times, there is a lift like that to a glider over a thermal air current; and again, it may arrive like a demand, an order, a command from the king. It may come with kindliness like a mother seeking for her child, or in a flash, like lightning finding its path to the ground. Prayer is inter-communion with God, and so viewed, it has the noblest of enterprises for its work: it is to the One who MADE the oceans, the earth and the teeming rain, the breezes and the kindly touches of life.
Paul in Romans 8:26 says this:
In our last chapter, we discussed some of the inter-relationships with the Lord, for His children on this earth, redeemed and restored to life in the Son, Christ Jesus. Now let us look further into THIS one! What is more important than this, except the ground in Christ by which this power is generated, and what it cost to make it once more, operative among believers, in mankind: the very heart and life of God ? In business, the study of communications is of the utmost importance; clients can be lost and won, work delegated can be relegated to ruin or prod the heights, because of communication. O-RINGS can be overlooked in the Challenger and so it goes to doom, not zooming into glory. Woe indeed can readily reach the most knowledgeable, if there is not that organisational felicity, fraught with words, with special, apt and adequate communication so that all things are knowledgeable, duly reviewed, understood, concatenated, controlled in harmonious ways from roving survey with its adjunct, EXPRESSION.
If in business, and its often relatively impersonal (though unwisely so, in most cases) approaches, this is so, how much more is it so when there is a direct relationship to the desires and will of the DESIGNER OF EXPRESSIVE POWER FOR MAN; and when again, it is in the name of the EXPRESSION ETERNAL, the word of God, incarnate as Jesus Christ, and now, holy, harmless, undefiled, higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:25-26)!
Expression to THE EXPRESSION of God, what a privilege, a joy, a relish is in that! Small wonder that the apostle declares (Ephesians 6:18-19): that we should be
Here is the PRAYER CHARTER.
There is a CONTINUAL occupation, a COMPREHENSIVE concern, a SPIRITUAL enablement from the Spirit of Christ, a special interest in the bold expressive work of pastors and missionaries. It is not mere prose; it may be lyrical - it includes supplication. You think of Moses as in Exodus 33:13, after the total depravity that set in among the people when, following astounding miracles of deliverance, they began to revert to false Egyptian gods, making golden calves with some of the fruit of the Lord's bounty to them.
Moses needed something special from the Lord to help his own spirit after such disappointment with his people.
Had he not just INTERCEDED, making
SUPPLICATION for the people (as in Exodus 32:31ff.):
Had he not indeed pleaded with the Lord for the very continued EXISTENCE of the people, as a people of the Lord at all, as in Exodus 32:9-14. In this case, we see the effect of pleading: it is a sparing of the people. You see something similar in Jeremiah 5, where the Lord indicates that if Jeremiah could find in the streets of Jerusalem ONE righteous person, He would spare it! Communication is of vast significance, it speaks from the heart; and if it does not, but is mere deceit or form or pretence, is not this also, this - sin!
SO in the event, the people were
plagued, but not extinguished. Moses interceded; and you see the pastoral
heart - in that he was willing to be blotted out, he CARED for the people;
but the Lord was not willing to be passing on judgment to one, who was
a sinner himself though a great leader, and
completely unable to bear it. THAT would come when the Lord Jesus Christ DID receive the punishment, and the people WERE delivered from eternal death. Those people ? all who are Christ's for that is the scope of His redemption.
A TIME for REALISATION
THAT SPIRITUAL NATION,
THE SAINTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF HEAVEN
Did Paul not say,
There you see the just love, the incredible seeming charity of the Lord, who URGENTLY desires the deliverance of the slaves from the sin pen, goes to extravagances of liberality in delivering them, and moves in spirit to all the forest of men, like so many vast treed expanses, seeking deliverance for whom He may. He knows His own. But this is a resultant in which love and seeking known to Him is open; and beyond the ken of man, is the key of the Lord!
The character of His vast love and the will of what He seeks is open to His eye, and always has been, even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4): in this, His infinite understanding, He KNOWS His sheep and they come to HIM! He knows His sheep, they know His voice. They follow Him. Indeed, anyone who wills to do the will of God will know the teaching concerning Christ, whether or not it be true! (John 7:17). Man may be overwhelmed, but God is never overwhelmed. He KNOWS what He is doing, and from HIM ONLY comes the salvation of man, from nothing in man, past present or future; but in the knowledge of God who foreknows His own, there it is, there it lies and has lain.
We speak of sheep - and some stay astray; of trees - and some remain scrubby. Not for them the beauties that well grounded trees can reach, clad with the bark of comeliness, the colours of adornment, the symphony with other trees and the lilt of wind in the leaves, proclaiming the artistry and grace of the Lord, their Creator. Not for them "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord" (II Cor. 7:1, 3:18), nor the architectural conforming through gentle genes of grace, maturing in the splendour of their Maker.
As to trees planted of the Lord, a figure for the children of God, not nominalists, but those who are actual, not formalists but those who are conformed by His Spirit within them and His word without them, not ceremonialists and sacramentalists, but spiritual people, sought and found by the Lord and then moulded as by a sculptor, or in living imagery, fashioned as by a surgeon: as to these, there is a conforming to the very image of the Lord, says Paul in II Cor. 3, while they look by FAITH (II Cor. 4:16-5:11, 3:14-18,17 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 29, The Kingdom of Heaven, Appendix) on the glory of the Lord as if in a mirror, and as they do, so He moves to impart His features, His goodness. These are not the actions of salvation but sanctification; not of founding but of favouring! (See also II Peter 1, cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 19, pp. 138ff.).
In a beautiful volume, John Halifax, by Mrs. Craig, an old classic, you see the character of the hero being conformed just like that, in steps and trials and weights and winds, in growth and the soil of faith in the word of God, in resistance to evil, in persistence in good, you see goodness itself glowing in the very midst of care, kindness in the cavortings of stress, you see the forest giant moving quietly in the way of the Lord, which is quite unlike any other way. You see that much favoured and intensely beautiful thing developing, which is a "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5), namely ... goodness.
It is not excited by fame, seeks no riches, uses initiative for godly ends, needs no news, acts quietly when opportunity seeks aid, knows no publicity... At times, indeed, the very work of patience and perseverance in the midst of tribulations, moulds the character, confirming hope as the giant root system (Colossians 3:17), planted in the soil of the faith, engineered by God, stands and being used, grows (Romans 5:1-5), the love of God being "shed abroad" in the heart as the head is raised upwards to the source of light, though the clouds are the nearer, and the winds the sharper. Thus love, hope, character and something of the beauty of the Lord's holiness appear from the grace of His presence, who makes all things work for good for those who love Him, are called by Him according to His purpose (Romans 8:29ff.).
So is there a time to be aware of the stark realities, as in Winter when the climate is rigorous, the going demanding, the requirements boldly outlined, a time when one might use snow tyres, yes and in some areas, equipped with studs! It is elemental, stirring to the wits, stimulating to the mind, but tends to arrest the more immediate production. Following it may come a season of rejoicing, of renewed opportunities, of growth and bloom, of flower and scent, of insect like industriousness, like bees on flowers, movement and wonder, in spiritual things, co-operation, knowledge. Then a Summer of heat, when it takes strength to endure, but offers glorious possibilities and perhaps the rest in the righteousness of the Lord, where the sheer exuberance of His power is tasted afresh. Then what is found ? Autumn, that blessed balminess, that embracing kindness of climate, that fruitfulness coming in almost as if automatic.
Seasons have a message, for the saints.
As to men and women astray, it is not in income or fame, perhaps, but in spirit. They lack what they do not receive, Him WHOM they do not receive, and all His gracious dynamics. How often one finds that someone of goods looks, keen intelligence or colourful personality in fact appears mean, or self-centred, or self-indulgent, or success oriented, not spirit oriented, as if a piece of bone or meat on legs, with a motive for something of or in the world, including pleasant interplay with other personalities; but his/her spirit as a creation of God, who is Spirit, might almost as well be in a literal prison.
Except for one fact, this is so: IT IS NOT! It is a warped, wearied, world-weary or world-hunger soiled spirit, covered with undergrowth and not willing to soar to the heights where the view is splendid, the air is pure and the radiance of the sun is unclouded with shade, and dull earthy things. It courts the imprisonment which it now affects. But it is not yet!
Many will say: I DO NOT NEED SALVATION. I have made my pile/friends/impact/success story/money or whatever, and what is this about need!Ask my friends, or my pleasure-meter or my bank manager, or watch how I have always been competent and organised and disciplined. Look for tramps, not for me!
This is the irony. This disease is often more delusive than secret cancer; but in some ways, it is similar. Like cancer, it may be hidden for years, it may be growing while the healthy body rejoices in itself, and then suddenly, the sub-surface facts are brought to light in X-ray, and in weeks the mangled body is gone.
It is PRECISELY this litany of self-importance (imagined in the red italics above, itself merely a type) which SHOWS, like any X-ray, the things beneath. This at once indicates 1) no God is served or 2) that any god served is circumstantial, a mere invention of the mind, and hence quite possibly one so created by the mind that 'success' is likewise guaranteed from its mouth; and the mental idol nods and approves likewise, with the psyche.
How can they be bothered, to do such things, in words, or in thought or in spirit! But they are!
But come when and how they may, if indeed they do come, leaving all that, to the Lord: when they come there is prayer; and to Him with whom these are now united, there is that same love which sent out Christ in this divine expedition, yes even into the pit of hell, preaching to the spirits in prison (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch.5, pp. 79ff., and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, pp. 52ff.): and this of course is precisely what the apostles' creed declares, in the fulness of that compassion which is so precisely stated in Colossians 1:19ff.!
Hence in that love which sought and finds, in that which came and was crucified, in that which in the beginning predestined in thrust and wonder, so that nothing is left to chance: it is in THIS LOVE, and it is with THIS PERSON that one is speaking, to Him one makes communication, shares and with Him pleads, when one is praying.
Let us then now look, thus fortified
with groundwork, or if you prefer, celestial confirmations,
at Romans 8:26.
WHEN WE PRAY, there is available:
1. HELP -
a) help in the person of the Spirit
b) specifically, help for us in our comparative WEAKNESS, for who is eloquent when the everlasting expression of God is before us, who gave to us our powers of expression! and in any case, who is eloquent when the knowledge of the hearts of men is involved, which is so deep, and often in the field, so devious (Jeremiah 17:9 attests it!).
c) help in our tendency to vagueness or uncertainty, when the very point of our arrows of godly desire is uncertain, and we wonder just what way to put it.
INTERCESSION FOR US -
a) even as we pray, the Lord the Spirit is Himself interceding FOR US.
b) with vast concern, empathy and penetration, piercing the clouds that surround if you will, the atmosphere of our souls all too readily, and seeing the terrain which concerns us... hence the intercession is with "groanings which cannot be uttered".
c) with groanings that WE cannot utter, but which are readily put into expressive format or formula BY THE SPIRIT. Then we are informed that God reads what is the MIND of the Spirit, so that there is readily available all that is needed in data, perspective, insight, penetration, interweaving of all things and with all intelligence and understanding, and all knowledge.
It reminds one of the eyes in the rims of the wheels in Ezekiel 1 as we have seen on more than one occasion (see Bible Verses Index).
It is indeed immediately AFTER this exposition on prayer, that Paul reverts to the famed statement that
What a work shop of glory is this! What a family table of wonder have we here!
Not only so, but behind even that, we then learn in Romans 8:30ff., that those whom God FOREKNEW, He PREDESTINATED, and then CALLED, and then JUSTIFIED and then BROUGHT TO GLORY (as in Romans 8:17, beyond the vale). IF you are justified (and some seem to KNOW this but wonder about the predestination or the glory) then of course, as an inhabitant of that circuit, you are assured of the end result. This is simply the word of God. IF the one, THEN the other. The necessary ingredient to receive it is simply faith in the Lord according to His word, in His blood, in His redemption, in His payment for sin, the just for the unjust to bring us to God; for His sheep, who know Him, and whom He keeps, they do not perish (John 10:9,27-28). It is NOTHING to do with YOU; as Ephesians 2:1-12 makes so clear; and it is PRECISELY when this FACT is ignored that the necessary result becomes some sort of inhibition or exhibition of DOUBT as to the glory.
WHEN however it is realised that
it is of the Lord, this salvation, as Jonah was brought rather expensively...
to see, then you can understand with utmost readiness, that there is NO
WEAK LINK. If it is in the one part in Romans 8:30, then assuredly in the
TIME TO BECOME THE CHILDREN OF GOD
These then are those who have a time to pray, and at all times, have this above time regulation (cf. II Cor. 4:16 - 5:8): ALL THINGS work together for good for them. Notice this interesting parallelism: ALL THINGS work together for good, and they are asked to PRAY FOR ALL .. at ALL times with ALL perseverance. Do you see the wholehearted character of this, being a child of God, a family member, in the household of faith! It is no question of fanaticism. There is nothing at all fanatical about realising that God is with you, when He is (cf. Romasn 8:31-39); or that He is more important than His creations, when in fact this is the case; or that if you do not walk by faith, you cannot please the Lord, when this relationship to the invisible but most impressively impactive God whose visible works demand His having made them, is damaged by your follies.
Walk then as seeing Him who is invisible; work as by faith in Him who though invisible, made all that is visible: the construction and brilliance of the methodologies of which, simply demand the mind, as their existence demands the engineering, from which they have come (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri 1-9, That Magnificent Rock Ch.1, SMR Chs. 1-3). Become used to working with the invisible with KNOWLEDGE, as you do in any case, without it. For who of you who read this, have ever been wholly oblivious to beauty, peace, duty, responsibility, fidelity, perspective, and which of these has any length or breadth or volume or weight or mass!
The sun shines dimly through the thickets of trees, the ferns and the little streams. The sun of righteousness with healing in His wings, shines strongly to the hearts of mankind, however shady or shaded! It is time to remove the dark glasses of opinionated unbelief, and to see what wonders are in this woodland, and to understand while you pray and read His word who made it, the paths within it, of peace. It has been a woodland of many epics; but none even approach the tree that was cut, that the Son of God should be smitten, and slowly crucified, the light of the world, in the darkness of the interior, far from the light.
is time to pray if you are not His, and to return your heart to the one
who contrived, fashioned and created it: yielding with delight your sin,
your will, your being, to the One who having made all, knows just their
capacities and their proper work, their creativity and their savour when
they are in the hands of the Saviour. It is only then that you are free,
when you are placed with Him to whom you belong; and when your heart is
freely in His kingdom, then you see that there is so much freedom that
it is even written, "Where the Spirit of the
Lord is, there is liberty!" (II Cor. 3:18).
It is GOD WHO MADE THAT TOO, for HE is the Father