Thursday, July 13, 2006

Praying, Overcoming, and the Return of Christ

I confess that, until last night, it had been awhile since I last prayed aloud with my wife apart from our daily pre-meal prayers and daily snipets of "Thank You God for this blessing or for that blessing." There's no doubt in my mind that we continually pray quietly individually, and yet our quiet, indivual prayers are also regarded by our Lord as those of one flesh. We pray for the same things, at the same times, and we know that we do, and we know that God hears our pleas as one prayer, since we are united by God to each other and to His Son.

Last night, we were both tired after engaging in a long day with our 3 children who all display some of the symptoms of a certain illness to varying degrees and who, more importantly, all have all of the symptoms - and display them daily - of a more serious illness called the sin nature. In Mathew 10:28, Jesus says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (the first illness I described above). Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body (the second illness I described above)in hell."

And so at 10:30 PM, we turned out the lights and I asked if I could pray with my wife. Not surprisingly, she said, "Yes," and so I prayed aloud. We prayed aloud, though she didn't speak. Sometimes she speaks when we pray, but last night she prayed in Spirit. And we both knew the Spirit was praying for us and with us and through us and in us and by us with groans that cannot be expressed with words. It was a blessing to have the presence of the Lord so strong in our bedroom. We, though always comforted and assured that we rest in the palm of His hand, were given an even greater sense of that reality.

Wouldn't it be fitting if I could say that at 11:30, as our prayer concluded, we were given a great night of rest and peace? Alas, it was a difficult night. It was hot, the children were coughing, waking, unable to find their pacifiers, crying, and restless. We were up for hours amidst the best and deepest sleeping time (2-4:30 AM). Am I complaining? Not at all. How could I complain when we are blessed with life and love and air and shelter and food and clothing and, most importantly, the very presence of God dwelling with us in the light and momentary troubles of this life. In John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus has overcome the world, and we are united to Him by faith. John, who records Jesus' saying above, gives us much hope in this regard:

"I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:13-14).

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4).

"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:3-5).

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God... He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death... To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it... To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations... He who overcomes will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels... Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God; and I will also write on him My new name... To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne... He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7).

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with Him will be His called, chosen, and faithful followers" (Revelation 17:14). MARANATHA! Come Lord Jesus!

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