So many people today feel like permanent losers. When that spark of enjoyment comes it winds up looking like fireworks on the fourth of July, brightening up your life, but only for a moment, it dissipates and fizzes and the darkness prevails again. If there is one thing that the Christian faith offers you no matter what your circumstance, situation, background, history or sins is hope. Even if nothing has been reversed yet in your life or in your situation when Jesus Christ is brought into the equation there is hope.
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Here are some highlights from this message about prayer from Tony Evans.
In John 6 we have a hopeless situation in verse 2 at the pool of Bethesda. It was a health spa in New Testament days with water that was used for healing or medicinal purposes. So masses would gather at the pool and wait for this stirring of the water where God in some supernatural way would disrupt the natural flow of the water. The first person that stepped in would be healed. On one hand that’s an exciting thing, but on another hand it was only good for one person. In John 6:5 a certain man has been dealing with his sickness for 38 years. This man is showing up every year trying to get healed. God does miracles with a purpose and the purpose of a miracle that’s used as a sign is to let you learn something about God that you would not otherwise know. If you are waiting for a miracle, if you’re waiting for the supernatural presence of God, you have to be open to the lesson that the miracle is designed to teach. It’s better to get a miracle and go to heaven than to get a miracle and be on your way to hell. In John 6:7 the certain man says I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred but while I am coming another steps down before me. Jesus sees the man lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time in that condition, he said to him “do you wish to get well”?
At 13:60, Tony talks about how Jesus doesn’t want to fix a messed up outside and leave a messed up inside:
Jesus could see what nobody else could see, he could understand what nobody else could understand. Why this man and why that question? Because Jesus wants to deal with the man completely. He doesn’t want to fix a messed up outside and leave a messed up inside. Jesus doesn’t just want to answer your prayer so your external circumstances changed leaving your internal scenario like he found it. In verse 14 Jesus found him in the temple and said to him “Behold you have become well, do not sin anymore so that nothing worse may befall you.” God doesn’t want to fix you up without fixing up what caused you to be messed up. He wants to deal with the inside cause of the outside circumstance. Many of us are messed up today because of sin. You’ve been paying a 38-year price for choices that you shouldn’t have made. Maybe if you’ve been in a hopeless situation you’ve been praying about the wrong thing. Maybe you’ve been praying about God fixing my external circumstance without healing my internal soul. In order for this miracle to take place this man had to come clean, he had to be willing to make the choice that he was willing to be made whole inside out, he wanted to be transformed.
At 25:44, Tony talks about why God Delays answering prayers:
Why does God delay answering your prayers, meeting that need, solving that problem, fixing that circumstance, addressing that pain? Why does God take his time when things are only going to get worse. John 11 give the ultimate miracle when he raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that our brother is sick and we’re calling on you for help. When Jesus heard this he said, “this sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified.” When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick he delays going for two days. God can love you at the same time and let you suffer. The first reason God delays is to show is sovereignty, that means he’s got everything under control. In verse 4 he says the reason I’m going to let him be sick and the reason I’m going to delay fixing the sickness is that God is going to use this situation for his greater glory. The second reason God delays his answer is to increase our faith. If you’re going to learn to believe God at a deeper level, you’re going to have to go through a deeper situation. God delays because he wants you to see him. God also delays because he’s usually doing something bigger than your situation. If you’ve been praying for a long time and there’s been a delay, I want you to praise Him. I want you to say Lord, how do you want to get glory from this situation? God also delays because he wants to develop you. Verse 26 says that everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Believers don’t die, you just need to know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Less than one second after you close your eyes and what men call death, you opening them in the presence of the Lord.
At 30:25, Tony concludes this message with the following statements
When you are calling on God and you love him and you know he loves you, and yet there is a delay you need to raise the question. Lord, how do you want to use this situation for your greater glory? If you delay, it’s got to be you’re holding out on me because you’re going to get more glory out of my sick situation than delivering me simply at the moment that I call.
Jesus doesn’t deliver you just so you can exist, he delivers you so you can be loosed and set free. He delivers you for a deeper intimate relationship with him. He delivers you to develop you into a new closeness that you never had before. God delays to grow you.