Ask Whatever You Wish

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

I’m amazed at the promise in this verse. Ask whatever you wish? That’s pretty absurd. Almost “genie in a bottle” absurd. But that’s what Jesus says. Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

As amazed as I am, I know it’s true. I’ve personally seen it happen time and time again. When we ask, Jesus answers. When we abide in him (trust him, seek him, talk to him, listen to him, soak in his life), he grants our requests. He responds by giving us good gifts – great gifts, actually! Gifts that are “immeausurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

This is the great God we serve. When we come to him needy, dependent and clinging to him like little children, he smiles and lavishly pours out his grace upon us. It’s remarkable and it’s awesome. When we abide in him and his words in us, we can ask for anything and it will be done for us.

What are you asking Jesus for this week?

The Hard and Fruitful Road of Prayer

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12-13)

I love how Paul says that Epaphras struggled in prayer on behalf of others, and then goes on to say how Epaphras “worked hard” for those people. In other words, his prayer was the hard work!

It’s easy to get caught up in working for God (i.e. ministering to others in word and deed) and fail to actually pray for people. But what we see from this passage is that prayer is some of the hardest work of all! It’s a struggle. It’s intense. It takes time and focus and patience and persistence and groanings too deep for words.

To put it simply: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that prayer is not hard work. It is and it’s worth it. If we ask, we’ll receive. If we seek, we’ll find. If we knock, the door will be opened to us. That’s how it works. Asking, seeking, knocking. Asking, seeking, knocking. Asking, seeking, knocking.

And then just when you’re exhausted from all that asking, seeking and knocking…

You receive what you asked for. You find what you were seeking. The door gets flung wide open. And all that hard work pays off once again.

God, the Divine Door Opener

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.” (Colossians 4:3)

It’s interesting to note that God is the one who opens the door for the word… This is both liberating and encouraging. We don’t have to run around trying to pry open people’s hearts and shove the gospel through a locked steel gate. We can simply trust God and ask him to do the heavy lifting for us. He’ll open the doors. He’ll move mountains and part seas and put people in your life at just the right time when the door to their hearts is starting to creak open. And then, when God has made a way, the word will go forward from your lips.

This is the beautiful partnership we have with our Father in heaven. We ask him to open doors, he opens doors, and then we get to share about our treasure, Jesus Christ. How cool is that?

More Than Can Be Told

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)

Wow, how true this is. Especially that last part: “Yet they are more than can be told.” Praise God for multiplying his wondrous deeds and his thoughts toward us. None can compare with him.

Peace on Earth?

“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”  (Luke 12:51-53)

Would you believe that this is Jesus talking? The Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the one who explicitly told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

So what gives? Did Jesus come to bring peace or not? According to this passage in Luke, he didn’t. But according to passages like John 14:27, he did. So what’s the deal?

The deal is that Jesus DID come to bring peace, but NOT peace on earth (as we might think of it). He came to bring peace to people all over the world – but not the world at large. That’s why there are still wars going on at this very moment. Jesus didn’t come to end all war. He came to end the war between our hearts and our Father who created us. He came to wash away our sin (which separates us from God) and destroy the works of Satan (who blinds us from seeing the glory of God).

The peace that Jesus gives is an internal peace. It’s a peace that starts inside us, as the walls between us and our heavenly Father get knocked to the ground. This doesn’t mean that all our problems go away and everything is calm from here to eternity. It simply means that we can be at peace with God no matter what’s going on around us. Like when Jesus is sleeping on a cushion in the back of a boat that’s being violently tossed in the sea (see Mark 4:35-41). The waves are crashing in and the disciples are afraid they’re going to die. But Jesus is in control. He gets up, rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!”

This is the same wave-stilling, storm-ending peace that Jesus brings to our hearts. But it’s not a peace he gives to everyone. Remember, he came to bring “division.” He came to separate people in their own families. This isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s the truth. Jesus is not interested in “smoothing things over” or pretending that every person is on the same page. There are some who will take up their cross and follow him and there are some who won’t. There are some who will taste and see that the Lord is good and there are some who won’t.

This is what Jesus means when he says that he came to bring division. He knows that people will be divided on where they stand with him. Some will love him and others will hate him. That’s just the way it is.

But here’s the good news: The peace of Jesus is available to every person on this planet. God has made a way for us to be at peace with him forever. He sent his Son (the Prince of Peace) to rescue us from our sins and deliver us from evil. If we repent and believe in him, we will have eternal life with the God of peace himself.

This is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. May his peace be upon you this season.