May 29, 2016

The most awesome relationship

The story of Esther does not mention God but it does tell of a relationship in which Queen Esther was highly regarded by her King Ahasuerus so that whatever she asked, he would give her. Cultivating that relationship through respect, obedience, and regard for his authority, Esther saved her people from annihilation.

Today’s devotional refers to my relationship with my King, a relationship of unity which He made possible and I am to enjoy by respect, obedience, and regard for His authority. It is a relationship that is important concerning prayer . . .

“In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:26–27)

In this context Jesus tells how this relationship leads to answered prayer, but first things first. “In that day” refers to being in an undisturbed relationship with God. No unconfessed sin, no mistrust, no wandering off to do my own thing. It is in that day that I can “ask in His name.”

As Chambers says, this is no magical incantation, even though some people pray as if it is. When the Bible talks about the name of the Lord, it is referring to His character, His very nature. When I pray in His name, I am asking as He would ask, asking in the intimacy of knowing His will and knowing how He thinks about whatever is on my heart. I come to God as Jesus would come to His Father.

Jesus is not taking my prayers and asking for me. I have access to the Father through Him and do not need an interpreter.  Jesus is the reason that I can come to God. He redeemed me, gave me open access to God by forgiving my sin and replacing it with His righteousness. I come to the Father through the Son, yet I come; the way is open, another marvel of the gospel.

“The Father himself loves you” — which is just as staggering. Because I am made one with Christ and have been given His Spirit, I am lifted to heavenly places in Christ Jesus and allowed to see some of the workings of the mind of God. This is a complete union, a relationship where I can freely ask of God “whatsoever” and because I come in the name of Jesus, and He hears me.

Moreover, He will give to me whatever I ask. (Major DRUMROLL) Obviously this is not about selfish requests like winning the lottery or having perfect health or anything else for the benefit of me (although God cares about me). It is about a relationship of unity so that my requests match the perfect will of God. It is like Esther taking the time and effort to discover the mind of her king so that when she asked, he extended the golden scepter rather than ordering her death.

God wants me to know His mind. Should I ask apart from it, He will not strike me with lightning, but He will deal a death blow to my selfishness or any fleshy attitudes that ask for those things outside of His will. If I am selfish, unlike Esther’s king, He lovingly arranges to purge out that selfishness, conforming my heart to the heart of His Son and giving me the joy of knowing His large and everlasting love.

“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23–24)
How awesome is that!

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