Authentic Prayer from James MacDonald (Day 7 of 7)


Today’s Scripture:  Jeremiah 33:2-3

2  Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; 3  Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Introduction:

Well…today we wrap up our series on Authentic Prayer with Pastor James MacDonald.  He’s the senior pastor for Harvest Bible Chapel, and he also has one of my favorite radio programs called “Walk In The Word”.   I enjoy listening to his teaching on the radio, and I’ve enjoyed doing this series.  There are others that he has on YouVersion, but I don’t believe we’ll have enough time between now and the end of the year to get into another one.

So, this will be the final message of this series.  I believe that it’s been a pretty good series, and that we’ve gotten quite a bit of good stuff from it.  This series has reaffirmed to me what the Bible says about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in that it is “profitable”, and that when taught properly it helps perfect us as believers.  In other words…when the Word of God is taught correctly…it helps us to grow and mature.

Well…I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to get into this last message, and therefore I believe it’s time to get out of the way.  Let’s see what we can learn from this final message, and what the Lord would have to say to us through it…Amen!?!

Today’s Message:  “Hidden Things”

So far we have looked at three promise words found in God’s word to Jeremiah: invitation, insurance, and inspiration. Here’s the fourth: illumination.

Remember back in the beginning of this series…we learned that in Jeremiah 33:1-3 within these verses are four distinct promises from God to Jeremiah related to prayer.  I know that I gave you that as an assignment, but through the last few messages of this series…we’ve been secretly looking at them.  So, let’s take a look at the first three, and then finish it up by looking at the last one.

So…what are the four distinct promises God made Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33:1-3?

  1. God’s Invitation.
  2. God’s Insurance.
  3. God’s Assurance.
  4. Illumination. (which we’re going to talk about right today.)

God’s Invitation:

God’s “Call to Me” was His invitation to us.  The invitation to come to Him no matter who we are, where we are, and what we have done.  It’s one of those things we see in the story of the thief on the cross that was next to Jesus.  The thief represents us in that he had two choices.  Either he could’ve remained silent rejecting Jesus until his last breath finding himself spending eternity separated from God, or he could’ve done what he did…and accept the Jesus’ invitation to call upon Him as Lord to receive salvation.

What can we learn from the thief?  First of all, the thief as I mentioned represents us, and where we are before we come to Jesus.  He was on the cross next to Jesus, and that represents the fact that we were all at one point dead in our sins and trespasses…and that we deserved death as a result.  Second, He recognized his need for a Savior.  Unlike the other thief who mocked Jesus…this one realized that it was himself and not Jesus who deserved to die.  He recognized that he deserved death for the way he lived his lie, and he also recognized that the only option he had was to call upon Jesus.  Third, he reached that point that we all reach…regardless of who is watching or what anyone thinks…he recognized that he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by accepting Jesus’ invitation.  So…by faith he called upon the name of the Lord, and true to the Word of God…he was saved.  The important thing for all of us to understand and recognize is not only do we need to recognize we need God’s help, but that we can come to Him regardless of what our lives look like.

You see, the real problem I have with religion is that they make you work for the things that Jesus came to freely give us access to.  We have free access to the throne of grace because we’re in Christ, and for no other reason then that.  Both God and Jesus gave us the same invitation.  In  Jeremiah 33:1-3 the invitation was to “Call to Me”, but in Matthew 11:28-30 we see Jesus give what’s commonly referred to as “The Great Invitation.

No where are we told that we have to clean up our lives before accepting the invitation.  God says “Call to Me”, and Jesus says “Come unto Me”.  In either case, the invitation is given, and it’s up to us to accept or reject that invitation.  I don’t know about you…but I’m thankful that I have a God that gives us such an unconditional invitation to call and come to Him…as we are.  I’ve said throughout this series that being authentic is just simply being real…being genuine…being yourself…and the main component to God’s invitation is just that…Come as you are…and I will take care of the rest.

God’s Insurance:

Equally as wonderful is the fact that God gives us the insurance that He will hear us when we call.  Look back at the thief on the cross.  Religion would have us to believe that God cannot hear us over our sin, but again using the story of the thief on the cross…we see why religion really doesn’t talk all that much about this person.  I think the thief on the cross is one of the most important people in the Bible…because he provides us such a clear picture of the difference between religion and relationship.

If it’s true that God is deaf to our sin…then Jesus wouldn’t have even heard the thief call to Him.  That is what religion teaches.  We have no right to approach God because we have sin in our lives, and the reason He cannot hear us when we pray is because of that sin in our lives.  We just talked about how there were two thieves one was content to die in his sin…and the other thought that he might as well.

So, with nothing to lose the thief says “Lord, remember me this day.”  We obviously know Jesus heard him because Jesus responds.  Now, if what religion teaches is true…the story ends with both thieves dying in their sin.  However, one of them died in his sin, and is going to spend eternity in hell…the other this very day is in paradise with Jesus…and will be in Heaven just like Paul, Peter, David, Abraham, and everyone else who died having accepted God’s invitation to have a relationship with Him.

So…we can call to Him as we are…and know that He’s going to hear us.  There’s no other offer from any other god because they’re all dead.  None of the other gods can hear us, they can’t even invite us to call  to them because they’re all dead.  We serve the ONLY living and true God that not only invites us to call to Him…but insures that He will hear us.  I don’t know about you…but that excites me…and gives me a sense of awe for Him.

God’s Assurance:

We now know that God wants us to call to Him just as we are.  We know that He will hear us.  Now, we find out that not only will He hear us…but He will answer us.   No other god can make these claims because no other god is alive.  Again…the thief on the cross accepted the invitation to call to Jesus, Jesus heard Him, and we know Jesus heard Him because Jesus answers the thief.

So…when those religious folks come to tell you that you need to clean up your lives, that God cannot hear you over your sin, and that He won’t answer you because you’re so unholy and unrighteous…then point them to the story of the thief on the cross…and ask them if that’s true how is it that a thief could call to Jesus, that Jesus would hear that thief, and not only would He hear the thief…but He also answered the thief.

See…that story shoots so many holes into the religious point of view.  Here’s the truth.  If what religion teaches was true…then that story wouldn’t have even been in the Bible.  This story either contradicts everything the Bible teaches or it contradicts what religion teaches.  I don’t know about you…but since I know that the Bible is a more sure word than even any audible voice I may hear from God…and that God swears His Word by Himself…I think I’ll take the Bible over religion…Amen!?!

Illumination: 

Illumination comes from “I will . . . tell you . . . hidden things.” Illuminations are insights that no one can see but me and God. The Hebrew term is used to describe fortified cities that were inaccessible and unassailable. God knows things about our circumstances: great things, mighty things, hidden things. This is one of the greatest blessings of prayer: God tells us things. But sometimes even His Word doesn’t become clear to us until we are quiet and prayerfully listening. Unceasing prayer is a conversation that expects God to speak to us directly. That can’t happen without moments of attentive silence during which we anticipate hearing from God.

“I will tell you hidden things.”  This means that there are things that God is going to reveal to me that He’s not going to reveal to anyone else.  God is going to illuminate things in our lives that are between Him and me.  God revealed things to Daniel that He never revealed to anyone else.  God revealed things to Moses that He never revealed to anyone else.  God revealed things to Paul that He never revealed to anyone else.  John…Jesus’ beloved disciple had things revealed to him that God has yet to reveal to anyone else.  See, that tells me that there are things He’s going to reveal to me and about me that He’s not going to reveal to anyone else.

See.  Illumination implies that there’s things that we’re going to be in the dark to until God reveals them to us.  There are certain things that God’s dealing with me about today that He didn’t deal with me on when I first called upon Him as Lord.  Why?  There were things that I hadn’t even realized had been hidden in my heart.  Attitudes that need to be changed, pride that needs to be broken, unforgiveness that needs to be given, things that I haven’t been able to let go of or forgive, and then there’s a whole other side to things that are being revealed to me through my writing these messages…and the discipleship track I’m doing, and even through messages I hear in church or online or on the radio.

Can I tell you that we are never going to reach a place where we have nothing left to learn.    Think about Paul’s declaration that he counted all that he knew as rubbish, and that the only thing he desired to was to know God on a deeper and more intimate level.  Paul was the Pharisee of the Pharisees’.  He knew the law…all of it.  He knew the ancient scriptures…all of them.  This side of Solomon…I believe Paul was a man of great knowledge, wisdom, and understanding…and he admitted that even with all he knew that he hadn’t attained anything.  Paul even prayed that the eyes of our understanding would be opened, and that God would reveal the full array of His love to us.   It was Paul to whom God revealed the mystery to, and revealed the true gospel to also.  God revealed to Paul justification by faith, the ministry of reconciliation, and yet…Paul felt that he could’ve known more.

Paul had a lot of things illuminated to him, but he also spent a lot of time in prayer.  I believe Paul was constantly praying and seeking God.  We know that He often prayed in tongues because he told the Corinthians that he prayed in tongues more than they did.  He sought out God and the presence of God…and as a result…he received so much revelation that God allow him to be constantly buffered because all of the revelation Paul had it could’ve been easy for him to get full of pride and arrogance.

We know that buffer worked because Paul spoke of how he constantly sought God to deliver him from that buffer, and God’s only response to him was that His strength was made perfect in Paul’s weakness…Paul saw his weakness…and that allowed him to remain humble in spite of the enormous amount of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding he had.

So…there are many, many things that God is going to want to illuminate and reveal to us in our lives, and let me say this…the majority of the time God is going to speak to you about you.  Yes, God may give someone a word of knowledge for us, or we might be given a word of knowledge for someone else…but the majority of the time…God is going to speak to you about you…God’s not into gossip while He may give you a word of knowledge for someone…He’s not going to talk to you about what’s going on in someone’s life…unless He wants you to have an impact in that person’s life.  Let me say that again…because I sense the Lord wants me to repeat it.  The majority of the time…when God speaks to you it’s going to be about you and about your life.  So…stop it with the “God told me you…blah…blah…blah.”…no He didn’t.  In fact, if God did tell you “blah…blah…blah” it most likely wasn’t for that person…it was most likely for YOU.

This is one of the greatest blessings of prayer: God tells us things. But sometimes even His Word doesn’t become clear to us until we are quiet and prayerfully listening.  Unceasing prayer is a conversation that expects God to speak to us directly. That can’t happen without moments of attentive silence during which we anticipate hearing from God.

Here’s a concept.  We talked about this point a few times, and it just jumped out at me.  So, it’s time to talk about it again.  Prayer isn’t just us talking and talking and talking.  Prayer also requires us to shut up and listen.  He can’t speak to us if we’re the one that’s always doing all the talking.  I am convinced that one of the reasons that people never get their prayers “answered” is because they don’t ever just shut up and listen.  I know you might think I’m being rude, but can I tell you that God’s said those very words to me?  Yes…God has actually told me to shut up and listen.

“Some times His Word doesn’t become clear to us until we are quiet and prayerfully listening.”  That means that some times it is necessary to turn off the television, the radio, the phones, and everything else…and just get into that quiet place (our prayer closet).  Some times we just need to grab our Bibles, go some where quiet and secluded, and seek the Father.

How many times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do we read about Jesus going off some where to seek the Father?  We always find Jesus returning from some where or going some where away from the crowd to seek His Father’s face.

Friends…this is pretty obvious…but if Jesus needed to do that…how much MORE do we.  How much more important is it for us to shut off everything…and I mean everything (including our iPhones)…find a secluded and quiet place for us to get away from all the noise…and seek God’s face.  In that seeking it also requires us to realize that we shouldn’t do all the talking.

I can tell you that there are times that I do that.  I turn everything off (including my BlackBerry), shut the blinds, turn off the television and even the worship music…and just sit.  There are times where I don’t even say anything…I just quiet my thoughts and everything and focus all my attention on seeking the face of the Father.  Can I tell you that some times…nothing is said at all.  Some times, it’s just good to be quiet and sit at the feet of the Master.  Other times, God might put someone’s name on my heart to pray for, a scripture in my heart to look up, or He may even just simply remind me that He loves me and that I belong to Him.

Those are good times…Amen!?!

God tells us why people are the way they are or why certain things had to happen as they did. God reminds us what good is being accomplished that we can’t see. God tells us how the future will be better, even though it seems impossible now. God sees everything that is hidden to us, and He chooses to tell us about them.

This brings me back to the point I was making a moment ago about the fact that most of the time God is going to talk to you about you, and included in that some times He’s going to point someone out.  Not for the purpose of telling you about them, but to help you understand why that person does what they do.  One of the greatest pieces of advice I received from Pastor Stephen Robbins was when he taught us through a series he was teaching on about advice to those who desire to be in ministry is that we have to learn to look beyond the person we see in front of us.

There are times God will show me someone, and the whole purpose of Him pointing that person out to me was to point out an attitude I have that He’s wanting to deal with me on.  He’s not pointing that person out to me so that I can go up to them, and talk to them about their attitude…He’s pointing that person out to me because He wants to talk to me about MY attitude.  God may show me something about someone’s motives…again to point out MY motives…not for me to deal with them about their reasons or motives…but MINE.

You see…God’s about dealing with me about the conditions of my heart, and some times He points out people to me because He knows I might see something in them I don’t like…and then He’ll immediately point out to me that the reason I don’t like what I see in them…is something He doesn’t like seeing in me.  HUMBLING to look at someone else…and have God point out that the very thing that I am looking at in them…He is looking at in me…that is illumination.

“Can’t you be more specific, James?”

Don’t you guys know that I can sense that some of you may have the same question?  Well, I guess James and I both have the same answer.

No, I cannot, because though I know what God has shown me, I don’t know what the hidden things are for you. Isn’t it awesome to think that God has some hidden things for you? How awesome to know something that only you and God know? God told Jeremiah that prayer is the condition in which He tells us hidden things. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Friends, there are things that God’s shown me that I don’t even have specific answers to yet, and that means that in order for me to get those answers I have to take what I have had reveal…and continue to seek more understanding.  But…it’s true.  God has things that He wants to reveal to each and everyone of us who are His.  He has things to reveal to you about your life that only are for you and Him to know about.

Yes…God has hidden things for you.  He has things that He’s going to reveal to you, about you, and for you that aren’t for anyone else.  He’s going to point out people to you…like He does me…and then He’s going to show you things that they do that you do that He wants to deal with your heart on.

Prayer…this is what’s necessary to receive these things.  Being authentic means that we’re not false, that we’re not a copy of someone else, that we’re real, that we’re genuine…that we are ourselves.  We are just like the thief…taking the chance to realize we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by accepting the invitation to Call upon Him.

Authentic prayer…is just you and I being who we are…and seeking the face of the Master…Amen!?!

Conclusion:

What a great series.  I really enjoyed this series, and I hope you did too.  We took seven days to explain that authentic prayer has nothing to do with the beautifully eloquently spoken prayers we hear some times, but it’s about us being who we are…and just seeking God’s face.  There are hundreds of times in a day where I may just simply stop and say nothing more than “Lord, I love Ya.”

After all.  Isn’t that how we relate to our earthly dad’s some times?  Don’t we just some times just say to our dad’s something similar.  That’s really how God wants us to approach Him…don’t ya know!?! He wants us to just talk to Him…that’s all prayer is.

Prayer is a conversation between you and God.  Authentic prayer…is just you being yourself having a conversation with God.  That’s how we get to a place of having a deep, personal, and intimate relationship with God.

All the marriage experts talk about how important communication is within a marriage.  Well…since we’re considered the “bride of Christ”…that illustration applies to our relationship with God.  The better the communication between my wife and I becomes…the more intimate our relationship becomes.  It’s the same way with God…the more we communicate with Him…the deeper and more intimate our relationship with Him becomes.

See…here’s the point.  I don’t start out my conversations with my wife calling her Mrs. Kizer.  I start off conversations with her some times with “honey” or “babe”.  Don’t you know that’s where we need to get with God?  Paul tells us we can call Him “Abba, Father”…and most of us know that’s just the Bible’s way of God telling us to call Him “Daddy”.

So…don’t be so formal with God all the time.  Lose the stiffness of approaching Him in a religious and formal way…and start approaching Him like He’s your Dad…and I promise as you do that…it’ll be easier and easier to just start talking to Him.  There are many times throughout the day where I’ll just say something like “Ya know Lord,”…and then I’m off to talking to Him about what I wanted to talk to Him about.

There’s something personal and intimate about being able to say to the God of the universe:   “Ya know Lord…”, and because of His Word…I know that whether I approach Him saying “Ya know Lord” or “Dear Jesus” or “Heavenly Father”…He’s going to hear me and answer me…and He’s saying to us the same thing He spoke to Jeremiah.

“Call to Me…I will hear you and answer You, and show you things that are beyond your imagination.”

I don’t know about you…but I want to know what He has to show me…Amen!?!

Let’s Pray:

Thank You, Father, that I can pray with David, “O LORD, You have searched me and know me!” (Psalm 139:1). Thank You for the Invitation to call upon You…the insurance that You will hear us, and that assurance that You will answer us.  I thank You for demonstrating Your personal awareness of everything about me by showing me “hidden things” that are just for me. I am hungry and long to know all that You have to reveal to me.  Lord, help me to be faithful to those convictions, comforts, and guidance. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

The Invitation:

I am going to work at making sure that I never close a series or a message without asking you the most important question you’ll ever answer:  Have you ever accepted Jesus’ invitation to know Him as Lord and Savior?

If not…it’s really easy to do.  In fact, it’s as easy as A-B-C…and then doing what Romans 10:9-10 and 13 say to do.

A- Admit:  Admit to God that you are a sinner. Repent, turning away from your sin.

    • ”For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23
    • “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.”

Romans 6:23

B- Believe:  Believe that Jesus is God’s Son and accept God’s gift of forgiveness from sin.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”John 3:16

C- Confess:  Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

  • “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-10, 13

If you’re ready to do that…then you’re ready to say this simple prayer.  Make sure you say it OUT LOUD…I know you may not understand why…but by saying it out loud all of Heaven and hell will hear you…and you might not understand why that’s important…but that’s one of those things that will be revealed to you in time.

Pray this out loud:

Dear Lord Jesus…come into my heart.  Forgive me of my sin.  Wash me, cleanse me, and set me free.  Jesus, thank You that You died for me.  I believe that You are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back for me.  Place me IN Your Ark right now, today.  Fill me with the Holy Ghost.  Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God, and a holy boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I boldly confess that I am a whosoever that has called upon the name of the Lord…that I am IN the Ark…and that I am saved…I am born again…I am forgiven…I am the righteousness of God IN Christ Jesus…and I am In the Ark and on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.  In Jesus name I pray…Amen!

If you prayed that prayer…you’re part of God’s family.  Your saved.  If you need help knowing what to do next…feel free to write us at: christlikeministriesarkansas@yahoo.com we’ll do the best we can to help get you started with your walk with God.

Thanks for following along with this series…and for your support of Christlike Ministries NWA.  You all are an encouragement to me, and I’m thankful for all of you.

“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA

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