NAME IT AND CLAIM IT?

Scripture Reading: John 14:12-14

“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)

Some people have greatly misunderstood these words of Jesus. These teach a false “name it and claim it” theology. In other words, they say if we ask Jesus in faith for anything, He is obligated to give it to us. They say, however, that we should be sure to tack Jesus’ name on the request. To be honest, I would hate to think that Jesus would give me everything I asked from Him. He knows what is best for me; I surely don’t always know that.

The key to understanding these words of Jesus is found in the phrase — “in My name.” This does not mean as long as we add the name of Jesus to our prayers that He is obligated to answer them according to our wishes. To pray in Jesus’ name means praying with His character in mind. In the ancient world, a person’s name was a reflection of his or her character. Thus, when we pray in Jesus’ name we ask for things that are consistent with the nature and character of Jesus.

Praying in Jesus’ name means we pray according to His will. Why would we ever want to pray for anything that was out of the will of God? God is omniscient. He knows our needs and He knows what is best for us. God has a plan for each of us that He is working out in our lives. His will is always right and perfect.

Praying in Jesus’ name also means that we are coming to God solely through the merits of our Savior. Jesus is the only way to the Father — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comers to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME” (John 14:6). Jesus is our great High Priest who makes intercession for us — “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). It is through the priestly work of Jesus that we have access to the throne of God — “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

When we pray in Jesus’ name, our desire is to honor His character and to submit ourselves to His perfect will. And to pray in Jesus’s name means we recognize that our only access to the throne of grace is through the Champion of grace, our great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, my great High Priest, I come to You in prayer. I acknowledge that all my prayers are to be made with your character and will in mind. Forgive me for asking You for foolish and harmful things. You always know what is best for me. In faith I accept Your answers to my prayers, for I know that You always do things for my good and for Your glory.

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SHOW US THE FATHER

Scripture Reading: John 14:8-11

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8,9)

Years ago I heard Billy Graham preach a sermon in which he said with great passion, “If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus Christ.” Philip and the disciples were still not clear about the nature of Jesus. Thus Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us.” It seems that Philip wanted some kind of appearance of God. He may have had Isaiah in mind who received a vision of God (Isaiah 6).

Jesus replied, ‘Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?'” Jesus made it clear that those who had seen Him had seen the Father. This is a clear reference to the deity of Jesus Christ.

We must first understand the nature of Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. He has two distinct natures that are not to be confused — authentic deity and authentic humanity. We must also grasp the idea of the Trinity. There is one God who has three distinct centers of personality — The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All three Persons of the Godhead share the same essence — deity. This is what Jesus is referring to in the passage. He and the Father share the same essence of being. When we look at Jesus, we are seeing God.

While Jesus was on earth, the glory and majesty of His deity were veiled. But none-the-less, the baby Jesus in the manger was none other than the Creator God, though men could not see it. When Jesus hung on the cross, He was still God in the flesh, tough men considered Him a common criminal.

Let’s never forget that Jesus is God. After His suffering and death, He rose victoriously over the grave. “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Lord Jesus Christ, I bow before Your majesty and glory. I know that You are God and that You love me. It is amazing to think that the Creator God of this universe cares about me. Thank You for humbling Yourself and taking on the nature of man in order to accomplish salvation for me. I rest in Your sovereign rule over my life.

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I AM THE WAY

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (John 14:6)

Jesus promised His disciples that He would come again and take them to be with Him where He was in glory. He wanted to clarify things with them — “And you know the way to where I am going” (v. 4). You can’t help but love Thomas, who replied — “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” (v. 5) Surely by this time the disciples knew that Jesus was going back to His Father in heaven. And surely they knew the way to get there — by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But it seems that they needed further direction and assurance.

So, Jesus spelled it out — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It cannot be any clearer. Jesus is the only way to eternal life — “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Some claim that there are many paths to heaven. We know from Jesus’ claims that this is not true.

Every other religion in the world teaches a works-righteousness way to salvation. People are being told that they can earn God’s favor through works. However, it is impossible to earn our salvation, for we owe God too much. We can never make atonement for all the sins we have committed. There must be a qualified atoning sacrifice that satisfies the justice of God — one that is pure and sinless. Jesus Christ is the spotless Lamb of God who takes away our sins. He alone is qualified to be our substitute. He alone is the way to eternal life.

We can believe this because Jesus Christ is the truth. He is the source of all truth. Jesus said — “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31,32). Jesus Himself is the truth and He has revealed His truth in Scripture. We can believe all that He says and all that He promises us.

Jesus is also the life — “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus is the source of all life for He is the Creator of it. And He alone is the way to eternal life — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Lord Jesus, I know that You are the only way to eternal life. I affirm my faith in You as the sole means of my salvation. I am thankful that You are the source of all truth. I have no reason to doubt anything You have said or promised. You are the very essence of life and You are the only way for me to have eternal life. Thank You for taking my place and paying for my sins. Thank You for making a way for me to the Father.

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TO SEE MY GLORY

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7; 17:24

“Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

Jesus made an incredible promise to us — “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If It were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take You to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (14:2,3). Jesus has prepared a place for us in eternity through His suffering, death and resurrection. He will come to us at our death and take us to the place where He is in glory.

When Jesus completed the Upper Room Discourse, He prayed a prayer, which we call the High Priestly Prayer. I want to look ahead at one petition in His prayer — “Father, I desire that they whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (17:24). Jesus made a promise to us that He confirmed by a prayer to His Father. He desires for us to be with Him throughout eternity. He purchased us with His blood and we are precious to Him. He wants us to be in His presence.

But notice what else Jesus desires for us. He wants us to see His glory. I cannot imagine what His glory must be like. Moses longed to see it — “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). However, God knew Moses could not handle it and therefore He hid Moses in the cleft of a rock and covered Him with His hand. Moses could only get a glimpse of God’s glory.

Paul wrote about His glory — “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). He is referring the the glory of Christ. We are told that if we take all the sufferings of this present time it pales to nothing compared to what we will see one day when we behold the glory of Christ.

Jesus Christ prayed to His Father that we would be with Him where He is so that we could see His glory. One day we will see it face to face. I cannot wait!

Lord Jesus, like Moses I long to see Your glory. I know that I could not handle it now but one day I will be with You where You are and I will see Your glory. Help me to remember this especially during times of suffering and difficulty. Enable me to keep an eternal perspective as I await the day when I will be with You and behold Your glory.

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I WILL COME AGAIN

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7

“And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)

These are such encouraging words from Jesus. He promises at our death to come and take us to be with Him where He is in eternity. I have had several opportunities to be with people at the time of their deaths. I can’t describe the feelings I had each time I saw a person slip from life here into eternity. Death seems so unnatural, even though we know that we will all die one day. I was with Anne, my wife who died of cancer, the night Jesus came for her. It was a bittersweet experience. She had been unresponsive all day. One of my daughters and I were sitting next to her bed. Suddenly she opened her eyes and she had the most peaceful expression on her face. I knew she saw Jesus coming to take her home. I knew as soon as she breathed her last breath that she was with Jesus in glory.

We all have some fear of death because we do not know what to expect. But we believers can have a calm assurance that we will not be alone as we travel from this life to our eternal home. The Good Shepherd will be with us — “Even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

It is comforting to family members who could not be present at the death of a loved one to know that the one who died was not alone. Jesus was there! I have ministered to people who had deep regrets that they were not physically present at the death of a loved one. I reminded them that their loved one was not alone. Jesus came and sweetly took him or her with Him to glory. Yes, Jesus Himself comes and takes us home. Nothing can give us more comfort when we face death than knowing this. “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

Lord Jesus, I know when my time comes to leave this earth that You will come and take me to Yourself. I will be with you throughout eternity in the place where You are. I do not have to be afraid of death because I know that You will be with me as I pass through the shadow of it. Thank You for the eternal hope I have because of Your promise to me — “I will come again and take You to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”

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I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7

“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

Jesus brings words of comfort to us during times of distress. The disciples were confused and afraid. Jesus began His discourse to them with these words — “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He then gave His disciples an eternal perspective. He was telling them that they were destined for glory. He used the imagery of a house. The Father’s house is heaven. The many rooms refer to our eternal dwelling place.

We must always keep our eternal destiny in mind. We are destined for glory. When we die here on earth, we begin a new existence in heaven. We have nothing to fear for Christ has made our eternal destiny certain.

Jesus has prepared a place for us. He has made our salvation possible. I believe Jesus is referring to His atoning work on the cross. The time had come for Him to suffer and die. He had to make a way for us to go to heaven. He knew that it was necessary for Him to become the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

We can never get to heaven apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ. He prepared a place for us in eternity by His sufferings, death and resurrection. He is the only way to heaven — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (v. 6).

When you get down and afraid, remember that we have a glorious future ahead of us. We are destined for glory. Jesus has prepared a place for us to spend eternity with Him. Nothing can prevent us from reaching our eternal dwelling place!

Lord Jesus, thank You for preparing a place for me in glory. Thank You for making my salvation possible through Your suffering, death and resurrection. I know that You are the only way to heaven. Thank You for opening my heart to this truth. Thank You for giving us the hope of glory.

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LET NOT YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED

Scripture Reading: John 14:1-7

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

We will be looking at Jesus’ upper room discourse, which is found in John 14-17. Jesus gathered His disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast on the night in which He was betrayed. Jesus knew the time had come for Him to face the agony of the cross. In the upper room that evening, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, which we continue to celebrate these many years later. It was confusing time for the disciples. Jesus had told them on many occasions that the Son of Man would have to suffer, die and be raised on the third day. However, the disciples still had not grasped what Jesus meant.

After celebrating the Lord’s Supper with His disciples, Jesus washed their feet. He was teaching them one of the fundamental characteristics of a follower of Christ — to be humble servants — “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, that you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14,15).

It was obvious to the disciples that Jesus was troubled. He told them about being betrayed — “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me” (John 13:21). This upset the disciples greatly. In addition Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed (John 13:36-38). Needless to say the disciples were filled with fear and confusion. They were unsettled and anxious.

It was then that Jesus began His discourse with them — “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” He was saying to them, “You have to trust Me no matter what. It may be confusing and even fearful, but I am sovereign and I will work for your good. Believe in Me.”

Surely, we can relate to the disciples. They had received disturbing news on that night. They did not know what to expect. They were afraid, confused, disappointed, and anxious. It seems that we are living in uncertain times. Many have been isolated from loved ones for weeks. Some are fearful and anxious. In the midst of these troubling times, hear the words of our Savior — “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.”

Lord Jesus, I confess that I get anxious and fearful at times. I really do not know what to believe concerning the pandemic. Yet, I know that I can trust You. You are my sovereign Lord who will protect me and sustain me. I hear Your words — “Let not your heart be troubled.” Give me grace and power to free me from my worried and fears.

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EVERY NEED

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:14-23

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

This is an incredible promise from God — “And my God will supply EVERY NEED of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Notice, first of all, that God promises to provide all our NEEDS, and not necessarily all our wants. There is a difference between the two. We often consider our wants to be needs. We can desire something so much that we convince ourselves that we cannot be satisfied without it. We make a desire turn into a need. God promises to provide EVERY NEED, not every want.

Second, notice that God supplies our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. God’s riches in Christ Jesus are limitless. He has the power and the desire to supply our needs from His storehouse of grace. Or course, our greatest need is salvation. Jesus gave up His riches so that we could share in them — “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). Jesus met our need for salvation by becoming poor so that we could become rich!

Paul also had in mind our material needs. He experienced first hand how God provided for his basic needs. Often, as in the case of Paul, God uses other people to provide our needs. The Philippians faithfully supported Paul — “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again” (vs. 15,16). God often uses the generosity of others to provide for the needs of others. This also reminds us that we need to be generous because God can use us to be His instruments in providing the needs of others.

God is a generous God. He want us to be generous as well. He will supply all our needs from His storehouse of grace. Remember the words of Jesus — “for your Father knows what you meed before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). God knows what we need and He promises to meet our needs. He also want us to share what we have with others, for He delights in using us to help meet the needs of others.

Heavenly Father, You know what I need before I ever ask. You are my great Provider, who generously meets all my needs according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Forgive me when I become anxious about things. I know that You will take care of me. Lord Jesus, thank You for meeting my most basic need — my need for salvation. You gave up all Your riches so that I could share in them. When I consider what You have done for me, how could I not be a generous person?

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THE SECRET OF FINDING CONTENTMENT

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:10-13

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12,13)

Paul clearly stated that he had learned to be content in whatever situation he was facing. He knew that he had to set his mind on things above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). This enabled him to be view life from God’s perspective. He knew that Jesus was always with him and that he was in the palm of the hands of his Savior. He also knew that God is sovereign and causes all things to work for his good. As we have seen, Paul had the right mindset.

Paul wrote, ” I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” What was the secret that he had learned? He tells us — “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul knew that he was weak but that Christ was all powerful. He experienced first hand what Jesus meant by these words — “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). Paul knew the power of God. God gave him strength to handle times of plenty and hunger. God’s power also kept Paul grounded in his faith during times of abundance and need. He trusted Christ to give him the strength to do whatever was necessary during good times and difficult times.

Paul also knew the peace of God. He knew that the God of peace was with with him (v. 9). He was not anxious about anything because by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving he had made his requests known to God (v. 6). Because of this he experienced the peace of God — “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).

Here was Paul’s secret — He knew both the power and the peace of God. He knew the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Jesus was all he needed and he found contentment in His relationship with Christ. We will never find true contentment and satisfaction outside of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He alone can satisfy the longings of our souls. He alone is sufficient for our every need.

Lord Jesus, You are sufficient for all my needs. Forgive me when I try to find contentment and satisfaction in other ways than in You. I can do all things through You who strengthens me. Let me learn the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. It is Your power and Your peace that enable me to do so.

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CONTENTMENT

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:10-13

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11,12)

Like most people, I struggle with being content. Contentment means that we are satisfied with what we have and it means that we accept whatever circumstances we are in. It is hard to be satisfied with what we have. We are constantly bombarded with the marketing industry that tries to convince us that we need more, bigger and better things. We see what others have and become discontent with what we have. This can be true of our possessions, occupations, and even spouses. Being discontent with these things can lead to disastrous consequences. I have seen longtime marriages destroyed, because one spouse is discontent with the other. People have cheated, stolen and abused others to get what they feel they deserve because of their discontentment.

Of course, we can’t overlook the impact of social media on us. People often present the perfect picture of their situations on their posts. We wish we could dress our children the way some of our social media friends dress their children. We wish we could have the houses, boats, cars, clothing and situations that we see portrayed on the posts of others. I am sure that this is a huge struggle for teenagers who are struggling to find their identity.

Paul was in prison when he wrote these words. He was able to be content there because he knew that God sovereignly had allowed him to be placed in prison for a purpose. He knew that God had a plan to use him while in prison. He was not bitter, disappointed, frustrated, or even unhappy. Instead he was rejoicing! He had learned to be content in whatever situation he was in — “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (v. 12).

How could this be the case? Well, let’s look at what he had been writing to the Philippians — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (vs. 6,7). Paul was experiencing the peace of God. He found contentment in His Savior. His contentment was not dependent upon his circumstances, but upon his relationship with Jesus. Jesus was all he needed!

We will look in more detail into this passage tomorrow. But let’s be honest about ourselves today. Can we say what Paul wrote in these verses? Can we be content in any and every circumstance? It is a struggle for me, but I know that finding God’s peace is the foundation for contentment. His peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. He alone can offer true contentment, for everything else is temporary and fickle.

Lord Jesus, enable me to find my contentment in You. Forgive me when I become dissatisfied and discontent with what I have and with the situation I am in. I know that You are the God of providence and that You will take care of me. Thank You, Jesus, for Your peace which enables me to find contentment in whatever situation I find myself.

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