"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding."
Job 32:8

Monday, April 29, 2013

Silent Providence

Today I want to share with you all a few final words that I feel God has in store for me to share. Over the past several weeks, for those of you who have missed the messages or need a recap, we first began with The Spoken Prayer and looked briefly at what prayer is really about behind the traditions that we have and the way we perceive prayer in church today. Then we moved away from what we do during prayer and looked, if only for a moment, at the ways in which God responds in Quiet Answers. Now, before I move on from the topic of prayer, I want to end on several passages of Scripture that really feel as though they fit in the 'spoken' word sense nor in the 'answer' sense but in something that remains unspoken yet divine. 

You see, there is a passage in Romans 8 that has kept me intrigued for a long time. Some of you may already be on the same train of thought as myself which concerns verses 18-27. Now, I'm not a big of expounding on large sections of Scripture at a time but I feel that it is necessary here in order to understand what Paul was sharing with the church in Rome. 

Now, this particular chapter of Romans is a well-known one where Paul speaks about who we are in the Spirit and in Christ. How we have His Spirit that testifies that we are His children (v. 16), how our present sufferings are incomparable to the future glory we will behold (v. 18) and how, in His love, we are 'more than conquerors' (v. 37). Those are only a few of the handful of beautiful verses found in the chapter and I would encourage you to re-read it sometime this week because of its simple reminder of God's sovereignty and grace in our lives. 

But before I get too sidetracked; in Romans 8:18-27, we find Paul speaking of our current sufferings and the future glory we will behold when we see Christ again. 

To show the way the author writes it in verse 18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (NIV)

What an awesome verse! Here we find Paul speaking of all that will be revealed at the Second Coming of Christ. As we later read in the following verses, the author goes on to talk about how all creation, including ourselves, wait with urgency for His return so as to be free of this world and be with Him forever. 

Now, some of you may be thinking "Dude, that's cool and all, but I thought this was about prayer, not the Second Coming."

Give me a moment... I'm getting to it. If I may, I want to share two more verses from the passage in order to set the context of where this message is headed. 

In verses 24 and 25, it says,

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (NIV)

God is moving, Christ is returning but He isn't doing this on our time frame because His agenda is larger than we can imagine. And because He knows this, He gives us His Spirit of patience so that we may serve while we wait for His return.

Here's the cool part that keeps me fascinated and is the main focus of today's message found in the next two verses. 

In Romans 8:26-27, it says, " In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." (NIV)

This very same Spirit intercedes for us when we are unable to even find the words to express our innermost struggles! 

The very same God who said "You know what? I'm going to re-build the bridge between You and me without you even lifting a finger by dying on the cross for you" is the very same God who says,

"When you no longer have the words to express the pain, the frustration or the hurt that you have, I not only know your pain better than you do, I can provide a way for you to persevere." 

Do we ever wonder why we sometimes hear the testimonies of others who were struggling and were so consumed with grief or pain and yet God provided a miracle and answered an unspoken prayer? Don't get me wrong here, spoken prayer is crucial to us yet even when we can't find the words to express ourselves, God still ministers to us. 

And I'm sure we all know a passage of Scripture that could probably show this in the practical sense. For me, this is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (v. 7-8 NIV)

Now, Paul doesn't give us a great deal to go with in terms of understanding here in verses 7 and 8 but there was once something I heard regarding Paul referring to his struggle as 'a thorn". It's as though Paul become so familiar with his struggle that each time he came to God in prayer, its as though he would find himself simply saying, "Hey dad, I just need to talk about the thorn again."

Don't some of our struggles, spoken or unspoken feel like that? That they come to the point where we are so consumed by it that we can no longer mention it or we simply don't bother? And so we resort to nicknaming it, but how many of us stop there and in doing so, we end up forgetting some of the most beautiful verses that follow in verses 9 and 10.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (v. 9-10 NIV) 

His grace is sufficient and because of this Paul was empowered and was able to delight in his hardship. And so can we. 

I want to take a moment and recall one short phrase at the end of Romans 8:27. Notice what it says, "because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."

You see, its easy to recognise when we have sin in our lives and we struggle because of it. And what do we do? We repent and enjoy restored fellowship with Him again.

But what about when we suffer for doing good or we suffer in the midst of following God's will. Whether it be the loss of a loved one or the love we gave that was given in Christ is trampled on and our own hearts along with it. And we sometimes find ourselves wondering what God is doing, whether He is moving or whether He can still make a difference in our lives. 

After all, we read in the Scriptures that is it is His very will that we suffer for doing good, "For it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." (1 Peter 3:17 NIV)

And yet the very Scriptures say that the Spirit intercedes in accordance with the will of God. In the midst of our trials and suffering for His Name's sake, He intercedes and provides that very sufficient grace that makes us strong in our weakness. 

When we can't find the words, He can always find the strength and He will never leave us hanging. 

God bless you all.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV

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