I have direct access to God

Without Words

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27, NASB

Often the quarrels in our home begin with a misunderstanding. Someone says “I’m hungry,” and I hear “Get me something to eat,” which annoys me because I’m in the middle of something other than food prep. Take your mark . . . Argue. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem.

Surely not. How many times do we say something and it’s taken completely different than we meant for it? Worse, how many times have we said exactly what we meant, and wished it unsaid shortly thereafter?

Misunderstandings—of others, and of ourselves. This is the shortsighted failings of sinful people. A point of fact which makes me tremble when I think about the blessed fact that God has given me direct access to Himself. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I rant only to realize the next day that I was ugly? What if I ask for that which is not according to His perfect will?

Weakness, all. But even here, God has graciously provided. Because, though I don’t know what to pray, the Spirit is with me, interceding as I struggle. I’ll readily admit that I don’t understand this. But I do know that by the Spirit’s intervention I can lay my heart out honestly and God hears. I can petition the longings pulling at my will, and God does what is best. I can bring my meager praise, and it reaches Him with joy.

I can come to Him freely, because the Spirit attends me.

I have direct access to God

Never an Orphan

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18 NAS

I just wanted to talk to my Mommy. And I couldn’t. At. All. She was in Florida, and I was in West Africa. The nearest reliable internet connection was a nine hour drive from my hut. I could get to a phone 45 minutes away, but it only worked about 10 percent of the time. Cell phones? Ha. We didn’t even have running water, much less a cell tower.

I ached to hear my parents’ voices. The separation – it was a tangible ocean of loneliness. When I had said goodbye to them in that airport, it had really been goodbye. Although I was not an orphan, I felt every bit of one. My mother later told me that she mourned me as though I had died.

That same deep, indescribable pain of separation must have crept upon the disciples as Jesus told them He was leaving them. And Jesus knew it. That’s why he spoke these beautiful words.

“I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you,” he told them. How? Through the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who would abide with them and be in them.

God with me. God in me. Never, ever, for one nano-second, am I separated from Him. And so, even as I pray, the Holy Spirit in me helps me, “for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

My prayers are too often pitiful ramblings of a confused heart. And yet, the Holy Spirit takes those inefficient words and speaks them eloquently to God the Father. He can do that because He is inside of me, examining my heart, expressing what my words cannot. A member of the Trinity, pleading on my behalf to another member of the Trinity, never leaving me or forsaking me. I’m not doing a very good job of describing the awe I feel as I try to wrap my brain around this.

I don’t think I understand it well enough to turn it into words. But I am so thankful I live it, connected, to Him.

I have direct access to God, Uncategorized

A Heart Bowed Before God

“Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they burn incense, but they surely will not save them in the time of their disaster. For your gods are as many as your cities, O Judah; and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not listen when they call to Me because of their disaster. ~Jeremiah 11:12-14, NASB

Why do some prayers go unanswered? A question for all generations.

In recent years we had a pastor who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Prognosis:terminal. We loved this man, we loved his family. So of course, as one body, we prayed. Specifically, we prayed for a miracle healing, and for a time, it seemed that God answered with a yes. He lived through surgery, and it seemed the tumor surrendered. His life extended a few more years, but then . . .well, you can guess. We buried our dear pastor on a rainy day in April.

Please don’t think I’m tying our church to the wayward people of Israel from Jeremiah. That is not at all my thought process. Here is what strikes me, though. When God says no, or (sometimes worse) is silent, we tend to blame it on our prayers. Didn’t we pray correctly? Did I not use the right formula? Perhaps I caught God at a busy time, and the request slipped through the cracks. If I’m honest, these thoughts have passed through my mind. And they reveal a misunderstanding of prayer in general.

Praying is to be a communion between God and me. A surrendering of myself to Him. The privilege wasn’t given by God for me to use as some kind of magic. Why do I pray? To empty all that I am before God. It is an act of worship, an acknowledgement that He alone is God, and before Him alone I will bow. Does He care about the specifics of my requests? Absolutely. But He will not be manipulated by my will. Prayer is intended to help my heart fall in line with His will.

In the verses from Jeremiah, we see God saying don’t pray for them. I don’t think He’s saying ‘I don’t want to hear from you.’ I think He’s saying, ‘their hearts aren’t right before me. They try to manipulate me as though I were like the idols they have prostituted themselves to.’

I’m not saying that all unanswered prayers are because of a wrong heart, sometimes God just says ‘no’. But be on guard, wayward heart of mine. Prayer is not a chant of magic. It is a heart bowed rightly before God. Do not confuse the two.

I have direct access to God

I Have Direct Access to God: A Joint Post

But the high priest alone enters the second room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the holy of holies had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing… Now the Messiah has appeared …. He entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrew 9:7-8, 11-12

From Susan

I grew up in church, hearing a hundred stories about the ancient Jewish tabernacle. I sat in the preschool Sunday School class and watched my teacher explain it with flannel graphs. I cuddled with my Daddy at bedtime and traced the colorful tabernacle pictures in my children’s Bible with my finger.

I got it. The center room, the holy of holies, was sacred because that was where the Spirit of God Himself dwelt. No one could go into that room except the high priest, and he only went once a year, trembling and hoping he’d offered all the right sacrifices to cover his sin and everyone else’s.

Check. Head knowledge.

But then I moved to Africa, into a mud hut in the middle of an animistic village. One of the first things the villagers told me was this: “You can go into any hut except the ones with the grass skirts around them. Don’t you dare enter those.” But no one would tell me why.

Years later, I found out. Once a year, a village elder would enter the sacred hut and offer a sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the village. The rest of the villagers would wait for him on the outside of the grass fringe.

Jumpin’ Jupiter. The Old Testament, being played out right there in the middle of Africa. It wasn’t just a story anymore. This was real. Right in front of me, just as surely as in Old Testament Israel, the people were separated from God by a physical barrier as well as a spiritual one.

But they didn’t have to be. And neither do we. Because this verse makes it clear that Jesus’ death did away with those barriers forever. Our Messiah entered the Holy of Holies as the perfect sacrifice, giving us direct access to God.

What difference does that make to our daily lives as Christians? What does it look like to truly live a barrier-free life?

From Jen:

A barrier free life? Wow. I think that is a timely reminder. One of my favorite quotes comes from C.H. Spurgeon; “Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like the parched fields in times of drought.”

Drought has hit where I live—both geographically and personally.

We haven’t had near the precipitation normal to our region in three years. Pastures are dead. Many of the area fields planted in hope have for two years running been cut down for nothing more than cheap fodder. We live in a parched land.

What a picture sitting right outside my door. Oh soul, are you thirsty? Draw near. The barrier is gone, removed by the blood of the Lamb of God, who chose to die in your place. He has torn the curtain and issued an invitation: Draw near. Find Life. Draw near. Live.

I am to be filled with the Holy Spirit

Filled to Speak

“And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with compete boldness. …” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. Acts 4:29, 31 HCSB

His legs were shriveled. They’d been that way since birth, and they condemned him to a life of begging. Well into middle age, he sat at the temple gate, playing on passer-by’s sympathies, getting enough coins each day to eat and have a place to sleep. A demeaning, boring life.

And then one day, he held his hand out to Peter and John. But he kept his eyes on the dust.

“Look at us,” Peter said. The beggar did. “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, Peter grabbed that outstretched hand and pulled the man to his feet – his perfect, strong, usable feet.

The beggar stepped forward, then tried running, then leaped and finally returned to Peter and John, hopping up and down and praising God. He hung on to them, and all three went into the temple. “Look what just happened to me? Praise God! Oh, praise God! Would you look at me? I can walk!” The guy would not shut up.

Crowds rushed the trio, and Peter seized the opportunity to tell all of them the story of Jesus. The melee attracted and appalled the Jewish religious leaders. Why was the 45-year-old lame beggar walking, and furthermore, acting like a 6-year-old who has had too much sugar? But more importantly, what was all this preaching about killing the Messiah? How dare these two say Jesus was the Messiah. How dare they say he rose from the dead.

So they arrested Peter and John. Locked them up overnight. The next day, they assembled a solemn lot of priests and elders – long beards wagging, dignified robes swishing. They called Peter and John in.

“By what power or in what name have you done this?”

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he told them. In Jesus’ power. In Jesus’ name. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

The religious leaders were speechless. They conferred. They debated. And finally they just resorted to threatening. “Don’t you dare speak Jesus’ name again,” they told Peter and John. Or else. We’ll get you. We’ll get other people to get you. You’ll be miserable. You’ll lose your stuff. Your social standing. Maybe your lives.

Then, they let them go. Peter and John ran right to their “fellowship,” – their home group – to tell the whole story. All of those Christians knew those threats will real. They knew that the religious leaders had the power to make life terrible for them and for their children.

But here’s the thing that gets me. They didn’t pray to be protected. They didn’t pray for safety. They didn’t pray against the Jewish leaders. Instead, they prayed for boldness. They prayed that God would give them the courage to speak Jesus’ name fearlessly.

And that’s when it happened. That’s when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Filled with Him, they preached. They did the dangerous, the uncomfortable, the socially unacceptable. They shared the gospel.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t just fill me to make me a nice person. He doesn’t give me gifts just to make me feel useful and good. He fills me to glorify God, and that means opening my mouth and boldly speaking about Him when it is awkward. It means telling a friend who is lost that … well … she’s lost, and Jesus is the roadmap home. It means seeking out opportunities to do talk about Jesus instead of steering my conversations clear of Him.

If I am filled with the Holy Spirit, I will be kind, but bold. And I will be far more focused on his glory than on my own comfort.