Receiving from God; August 22, 2021

Luke 3:21-22 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke doesn’t record John’s protest at the idea of him baptizing Jesus, (Matthew 3:13-15) but he includes the detail that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as He was praying. We naturally associate prayer with asking God for things, since the word, pray, actually means, ask. However, I don’t know that Jesus was actively praying to have the Holy Spirit alight on Him. Rather, I think He was aware that it was the Father’s timing for Him to begin His active ministry, and He was asking for whatever the Father felt He needed to do the job. Obviously the Holy Spirit was essential! He was probably remembering this when He told His disciples, shortly before His ascension, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) Prayer puts us into the spiritual posture to receive whatever the Father wants to give us, and that’s always a good thing. It’s even a good thing when what the Father wants to give us isn’t necessarily what we wanted! Paul discovered that when he prayed to be delivered from his “thorn in the flesh,” and God just poured His grace out on him instead. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) The strength that he gained from that was far more valuable, and powerful, than physical health. However, when our hearts are too set on specific things, even when we pray we aren’t opening ourselves up to receive all that God wants to pour out on us. This morning I’m preaching on specific prayer, but the flip side of that is allowing God to be in control. He knows what we need, when and how and why. We are to ask, certainly, but we are to recognize, and rejoice in, His sovereignty and superior wisdom.

This certainly applies to me! I have had many prayers granted, but many more that didn’t turn out the way I had desired. I need to stay in prayer, and at the same time rest, relax, and rejoice just as He has told me to do. It is a relief to see evidence that I am growing spiritually and emotionally, but I’ve got plenty of room to do so much more! Things are happening at a great clip, in my personal life and in the world as a whole. The more I try to stay in control, the worse it is for me. I am to be active in intercession and spiritual warfare, particularly for such things as the situation in Afghanistan right now, but even in the middle of that I am to rest in the assurance that God is still God, and those who are in Christ will triumph. I need to remember that Corrie ten Boom, who went through the unspeakable horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, losing her family in the process, was a major proponent of Christus Victor, that has been put down by some as “Christian triumphalism.” Such people are defining “triumph” on strictly terrestrial, material terms. I need to look forward to Christ’s triumph that will put everything into perspective and make it all worth it. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. I pray that I would be fully available to You, today and each day, walking in fellowship with You that allows You to flow through me however You please, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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