Practice Intercessory Prayer

Vicarious Intercession

Beware of thinking that intercession means bringing our own personal sympathies and concerns into the presence of God, and then demanding that He do whatever we ask. Our ability to approach God is due entirely to the vicarious, or substitutionary, identification of our Lord with sin. We have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Spiritual stubbornness is the most effective hindrance to intercession, because it is based on a sympathetic “understanding” of things we see in ourselves and others that we think needs no atonement. We have the idea that there are certain good and virtuous things in each of us that do not need to be based on the atonement by the Cross of Christ. Just the sluggishness and lack of interest produced by this kind of thinking makes us unable to intercede. We do not identify ourselves with God’s interests and concerns for others, and we get irritated with Him. Yet we are always ready with our own ideas, and our intercession becomes only the glorification of our own natural sympathies. We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests. Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them. Am I stubborn or substituted? Am I spoiled or complete in my relationship to God? Am I irritable or spiritual? Am I determined to have my own way or determined to be identified with Him?

Wake Him Up!

From: Get more Strength.org

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Elouise worked the cash register in the food court at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. She was, by far and away, one of my favorite people. I liked a lot of things about Elouise: her happy smile, helpful spirit, and love for everyone. But what I liked best was her down-home, streetwise wisdom that came out in some of the most memorable quips. I could give you a bunch of them, but here’s one that just might be a good word for you.

One morning, as I reached into my pocket to pull out the cash for my breakfast, I asked Elouise how she was doing, to which she replied, “Not all that great.”

“Really?” I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Well,” she quipped, “I had to wake Him up this morning!”

I wasn’t quite getting where she was going with that, so I asked, “What do you mean? Wake who up?”

“Don’t you know your Bible?” she teasingly said with an obvious sense of joy at stumping the Moody president. To save me any further embarrassment, she went on to say, “When the disciples thought they were going to die in the storm at sea, they had to wake up Jesus so He would help them. I had to wake Him up this morning,” she said, “’cause I needed His help!”

See why she’s one of my favorite people?

What she didn’t say, though, was that it seems like Jesus was the last resort for those panicked disciples. Luke tells us that it wasn’t until the boat was nearly swamped, and it was clear that they were in great danger, that someone had the brilliant idea to wake up Jesus.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we are usually pretty slow as well to wake Him up. Well, actually, we don’t need to wake Him up since the God who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3)! In reality, we’re the ones who need to wake up. We need to wake up to the truth that we are not as capable as we think we are to deal with life’s challenges; that our wisdom and instincts are flawed; that trying to manage life by the seat of our pants usually gets us into a heap of trouble.

So, thankfully, the writer to the Hebrews assures us that we can come to Jesus with what the text literally says is “unstaggering confidence”—confidence that He understands our plight and is ready to help us in our time of need. And, in case you’re wondering how He will help you in your time of need, think about His grace that will help you endure, His mercy, His power to overcome, His wisdom to show you the way. And don’t forget His calming presence and His peace that passes understanding in the midst of life’s storms. They are all available for the asking!

So, next time you are overwhelmed with life and don’t know what to do, take a little advice from my friend Elouise: wake Him up! And don’t wait until He is your last resort. You’ll get exhausted and disheartened if you try to bail out your boat all by yourself!

Which reminds me of a wonderful old song that we used to sing in church when I was a boy. It goes, “I need thee, Oh, I need thee! Every hour I need thee! Oh, bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” You’ll need Him sometime—probably today—so make that the theme song of your life.

He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth and his hands make whole (Job 5:18). The Ministry of Great Sorrow From: Streams in the Desert   As we pass beneath the hills which have been shaken by the earthquake and torn by convulsion, we find that periods of perfect repose succeed those of destruction. The pools of calm water lie clear beneath their fallen rocks, the water lilies gleam, and the reeds whisper among the shadows; the village rises again over the forgotten graves, and its church tower, white through the storm twilight, proclaims a renewed appeal to His protection “in whose hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.” –Ruskin   God ploughed one day with an earthquake, And drove His furrows deep! The huddling plains upstarted, The hills were all aleap!   But that is the mountains’ secret, Age-hidden in their breast; “God’s peace is everlasting,” Are the dream-words of their rest.   He made them the haunts of beauty, The home elect of His grace; He spreadeth His mornings upon them, His sunsets light their face.   His winds bring messages to them Wild storm-news from the main; They sing it down the valleys In the love-song of the rain.   They are nurseries for young rivers, Nests for His flying cloud, Homesteads for new-born races, Masterful, free, and proud.   The people of tired cities Come up to their shrines and pray; God freshens again within them, As He passes by all day.   And lo, I have caught their secret! The beauty deeper than all! This faith–that life’s hard moments, When the jarring sorrows befall,   Are but God ploughing His mountains; And those mountains yet shall be The source of His grace and freshness, And His peace everlasting to me. –William C. Gannett

Happy Endings

The first: “Houston, we have a problem.”

And then: “Hello, Houston . . . this is Odyssey. It’s good to see you again.”

Together, these two messages form the bookends to the real-life drama of NASA’s struggle to bring three astronauts safely back to earth. An explosion crippled their spacecraft partway into their April 1970 mission to the moon.

The minutes leading up to the second of the two radio transmissions were particularly dramatic as people the world over anxiously gathered around television sets and collectively held their breath to see if the crew survived reentry into the earth’s atmosphere. Cheers and tears of joy and relief exploded across the globe when the astronauts finally returned home unharmed.

Not every story has a thrilling, happy ending like Apollo 13. But the Bible reveals that those who believe in Jesus will experience one! Much as the crew of Apollo 13 endured, life as we know it can be an ordeal and it will inevitably break our hearts. Death and decay will take away our health and every person we love. But the sacrificial death and dramatic resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees the happiest of endings.

This is the “happily ever after” that Paul wrote about in offering hope and comfort to those in need (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Paul confidently declared the future resurrection of the dead when he wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Sometimes, all can seem lost, especially when death takes those we love. But the truth of the cross and the empty tomb emboldens us with the hope for a “happy ending” that is beyond description.

Tears Of Gratitude

From: Our Daily Bread
At a communion service my wife and I attended, the congregation was invited to come forward to receive the bread and cup from one of the pastors or elders. They told each one personally of Jesus’ sacrifice for him or her. It was an especially moving experience during what can often become just routine. After we returned to our seats, I watched as others slowly and quietly filed past. It was striking to see how many had tears in their eyes. For me, and for others I talked with later, they were tears of gratitude. The reason for tears of gratitude is seen in the reason for the communion table itself. Paul, after instructing the church at Corinth about the meaning of the memorial supper, punctuated his comments with these powerful words: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). With the elements of communion pointing directly to the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, that service was about so much more than ritual—it was about Christ. His love. His sacrifice. His cross. For us. How inadequate words are to convey the extraordinary worth of Christ! Sometimes tears of gratitude speak what words can’t fully express.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. —Watts
The love Christ showed for us on the cross is greater than words could ever express.

Insight

For centuries, the Jewish community of faith had called to memory God’s provision of their deliverance out of bondage in Egypt. This memorial was celebrated through the Passover meal (Ex. 12:1-28). A roasted lamb, unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, and other items helped them remember their salvation from slavery. In our reading today, we see how our Lord took that sacred feast and transformed it into a memorial of His own sacrificial death (see Luke 22:19).

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