[This can be found in audio format on Spotify under Jim Holbeck.}
“It sounds just too good to be true.”
We may have often thought something like that when we heard something that sounded really exciting. It sounded unbelievable. Surely it couldn’t be as good as it sounded.
It may have been an advertisement we heard that promised something valuable for almost nothing. But we were disappointed as we later read the small print, and found the promise wasn’t so good after all.
When we first start to read about God’s promises in the Bible, they sound almost too good to be true. Jesus’ promise in Jn 14:13,14 is like that.
Tonight let’s face up to His promises to us in His word, and the conditions that might apply for the receiving of those promises.
- We must have faith and ask in Jesus’ name.
(John 14:12) “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”(John 14:13) “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”(John 14:14) “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
The promise is that God will do for us whatever we ask for, or anything we ask for. But the condition is that we need to have faith in Jesus (14:12), and that we ask in His name.
In other words, the promise is for those who have received Christ into their lives by an act of faith, and who trust in Him as their Saviour and Lord. Then as they ask in His name, the answers come.
We need to understand what it means to ask “in His name.”
In the Bible the “name” is important. It represents all that the person is, and all that the person has done. So as we come to ask in Jesus’ name, it is on the basis of Who He is, as the Son of God, the Creator, and the Lord of the universe.
It is also on the basis of all He has done as our Redeemer; in dying on the cross to take away our sins and our infirmities, griefs and diseases. Because of that, forgiveness and healing are now available.
It’s on the basis that He is risen from the dead, that He is alive, and has given us the gift of His own Spirit to live in us to enable us to know Him and His word and His will, that we might know and act on His promises.
- Lack of faith hinders God’s power
Jesus and His disciples were in a boat at night when a storm arose and the boat began to sink. They were filled with fear, and surprised that Jesus remained asleep in the boat.
When they woke Him, He not only rebuked the wind and the waves and told them to be still, but He rebuked them for their little faith. (Mark 4:40) “He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” There was no need for fear when He was present with them.
Jesus returned to His own hometown having accomplished many healings and miracles in other places. But we read of Nazareth in (Mk 5,6, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Many healings and miracles could have taken place, but the people of Nazareth refused to act in faith towards Him and they missed out on what they could have received.
Peter was moved to ask Jesus to bid him to walk on the water to Jesus. Jesus told him to do so, and he stepped out in faith and began walking on the water. But he looked away from Jesus and as he looked at the storm about him, fear entered in and he began to sink.
I would have thought it was a great effort to begin to walk on the water, a gigantic step of faith. But Jesus rebuked Peter, (Mat 14:31) “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”” He could have walked to Jesus if he had trusted in Jesus’ promise to him, but doubt entered in and he sank. How often do we take our focus off Jesus and begin to focus on the difficulties around us? Doubt is so unnecessary in the light of Jesus’ promises and power!
- Doubt hinders the reception of answers to prayer.
The disciples were standing amazed as they looked at a fig tree that Jesus had cursed the night before, and now it was withered up. They had seen a demonstration of His power. He encouraged them to act on His power as He said to them, (Mark 11:23) “”I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:24) “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
As we face the mountains of life, those seemingly impossible situations, we can invite Jesus to manifest His power in removing those mountains, and by asking Him to give us what we need. Having asked in faith, we are then to believe that we have received what we need in Him.
A father had brought his son to be set free of an evil spirit which was trying to kill the boy. Jesus’ disciples hadn’t been able to help the boy, so the father brought him to Jesus. He asked Jesus to heal the boy, “If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”. Jesus’ reply was a challenge to the father and to us. He said, “If you can? Everything is possible to him who believes. ”
The father began to exercise more faith as he replied, (Mark 9:24) “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” He had approached Jesus in faith for his son to be healed, but he wanted to be free of all pockets of unbelief so that more might happen for his son.
You and I may have faith for God to work in some situations, but we need to let Him deal with those areas in which we find it hard to believe that God can intervene and work a miracle. We could well pray, “Help me overcome my unbelief.” That is an acknowledgement that none of us has perfect faith. It is a further step of faith to ask that God might remove all pockets of unbelief that HE sees in us.
James wrote about prayer, that if we need wisdom from God, we should ask God to give it to us, expecting that He will. But he qualified it by writing, (James 1:6-8) “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man. unstable in all his ways.”
Doubt says, “I’m asking for it Lord, but I don’t expect to get it.” That’s double-mindedness. Faith says, “I ask in faith trusting in Your promise, and I thank you that I have received it.”
- An active faith brings the answers.
Jesus says to His people in all ages, that if they believe and act on His promises, they will receive the answers they need. (Mat 7:7-8, cf., Lk 11:9-10) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
He concludes those sayings by stating, “If you then (as earthly fathers) who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts (Lk. the Holy Spirit) to those who ask Him? ”
Jesus stressed the need for Christians to be united in prayer, and promised, (Mat 18:19) “”Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
The Ruler of the synagogue Jairus came to Jesus to get Him to go to his home where his daughter was dying. As they journeyed, servants came from the home to tell the father that her daughter was dead. We read in (Luke 8:50) “Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.””
They continued on their journey in faith, and Jesus restored the daughter to life.
A Roman Centurion had a servant who was seriously ill. He asked Jesus to come to his home and heal the servant. When Jesus replied that He would, the Centurion showed incredible faith by suggesting to Jesus that if Jesus just spoke the word of healing his servant would be healed.
Jesus was astonished at such faith in a Gentile, and told His hearers, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Then He told the Centurion, (Mat 8:13) “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” The result? “And his servant was healed at that very hour.” Sometimes it is the most unlikely people who have the greater faith in the Lord!
Two blind men were following Jesus. They asked Him to heal them. He replied, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He called for their affirmation of faith in His ability to bring them the healing they needed. When they responded, “ Yes, Lord” He brought them the healing they had asked for.
Paul reminded the Galatian believers of what God was doing in their midst as they responded to Him in faith. (Gal 3:5) “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” It was because they had faith in the power of God that they saw Him perform His miracles and healings.
John reminded believers of all ages, that we need to respond to God in faith and obedience.
(1 John 3:22) “and [we] receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”
God’s people were to act on His promise that they were to pray for the sick. If they did so, then, “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:15.) The prayer offered in faith can open any situation to the power of God.
The principle of faith at work. What faith does.
(Heb 11:1) “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” ie., Faith brings substance to our hopes. That is, we learn about the promises of God in His word, and they inspire hope within us. As we claim those promises in prayer before the Lord, He brings them to pass; the hoped-for thing becomes substance (reality) in our experience.
- God can do more than we ask or imagine.
The promises of God are truth, not fiction. They seem to be way out of this world, almost unbelievable. They seem to be too good to be true. But God loves people who will take Him at His word, and who claim His promises, expecting them to come true in their experience.
But let me encourage you with this final truth that God can do more than we can ever ask for. He can do far more than we can ever imagine. As Paul wrote, (Eph 3:20) “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”
Tonight as you prepare to receive prayer for your needs, or for the needs of a loved one, come trusting in the promises of God. Come:-
- In faith, asking in the name of Jesus.
- Confessing your need for your faith to grow, and
- Asking God to remove doubt from your mind about His promises.
- Come with an active faith, and come
- Expectantly, knowing God can do far more than you can ever ask or think.
Blog No.390 posted on Wednesday 10 November 2021