Don Goulding - Blog

In Jesus's Name

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:24)

I needed a sermon illustration for how God answers prayer. At the same time our phone required service. I reported the trouble, then asked the Lord to cause the usually sluggish repair service to handle the matter in a timely way. This would be the perfect example for my sermon on trusting God. I wasn’t going to take matters into my own hands and pester the phone company.

Two days went by and I was tempted to make a follow-up call. Soon four days lapsed, then five. I was squirming to know if my service order had been deleted by accident, yet I wanted to hold out so the Lord could provide a living illustration.
“Okay God, I can give you until three o’clock tomorrow, then my sermon has to go forward.”

The deadline came and went, and the phone wasn’t fixed. I was out of an illustration, a telephone, and confidence in prayer.

I asked God why my experiment failed and he reminded me I often mislabel my requests as kingdom necessities. It’s silly to think I can manipulate God by declaring that my agenda is on his behalf. The relationship works the other way around. To ask in Jesus’s name is to pray in harmony with his desire. It’s not the magic utterance tacked on the end that will force the genie to perform.

When we were children my siblings and I bought our father an Easter present—a live, fluffy chick. It was a thinly veiled ploy to obtain something he’d probably not allow. As children, we lacked the foresight that a chick would grow into a rooster who crowed in the city at five in the morning. Dad named the bird No No and sent it away after the first screeching attempts at cock-a-doodle-do.

Rather than manipulating our father, we might have simply asked, “Is there a pet that would be good for us?” What loving parent could refuse such a request? That’s the kind of humble dependance I need in my prayers so my joy will be complete.

Prayer: Patient Father, show me what you want me to ask.

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Glorious Failure

So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)  

I am not bound to win

But I am bound to be true.

I am not bound to succeed,

But I am bound to live up to what light I have.

                                               Abraham Lincoln

In 1888, Canadian born Dr. William Leslie began a career as medical missionary that would last thirty-five years. His last assignment was in the jungles of Africa’s Congo. After many years of fruitless ministry among the cannibals, he had a fallout with a tribal chief and was told to never return. Discouraged, Dr. Leslie retired in 1928 believing his ministry had failed. He passed into heaven ten years later.

Jesus of Nazareth was the most inspired speaker of his, or of any, era. The masses responded to his compassion for their abused hearts. Many times he demonstrated the power necessary to overcome his enemies whether they be Roman or Jewish. Then, on a dark Friday, Jesus the Son of God was captured, beaten and crucified. His followers defected and the greatest potential ever known to mankind was squandered like so much flotsam.

These two lives share something in common. By the world’s standards they both died abject failures, but God views success differently.

In heaven, success is defined as faithfulness to God. William Leslie and Jesus Christ were faithful until their departures and so it was impossible for them to fail. On the other side of death the glory of their failure became evident. 

In 2010, eighty-two years after Dr. Leslie left the Congo, another missionary expedition flew into the same jungle. They discovered the seeds the good doctor planted had taken root in the form of eight village churches spread over thirty miles.

We also know the outcome of the tragic death of Jesus Christ—how he was celebrated by angels as the greatest victor in history. We know it was impossible for him to fail, as it was impossible for Dr. Leslie to fail, and, even though everything we touch crumbles, it’s impossible for any of us to fail who obey Almighty God.

Earthly failure is most often the soil in which heavenly success grows.

Prayer: Gracious Father, let me fail gloriously for you.

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GPS For Life

C01You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying,

“This is the correct way, walk in it,”

whether you are heading to the right or the left. (Isaiah 30:21) 

 

I’m directionally challenged. I’ve been lost in Spain, China, Panama City, the Fijian jungle and the Canadian ocean, to name only some of the places. To travel with me is to spend significant blocks of time puzzling over our location.

Enter GPS mapping technology. Thank you Jesus. Somewhere in the unseen space above, satellites beam location data to my smartphone. A pleasant voice says, “Turn right in five hundred feet.” Whether I’m on land or sea I know where I am and where to go.

We also have a GPS for life—the Holy Spirit. Like my phone, the Spirit is always with me here on earth but he stays in communion with my Father in heaven and relays love and direction to my heart. It’s possible for me to navigate life with perfect serenity.

The arrangement breaks down because I use the wrong communication protocol. Rather than hear an audible voice, I must strain my entire being toward him. He wants to infuse who he is into my life. The best way I know to absorb him is to saturate myself with Scripture.

Without the Holy Spirit I can’t understand the Bible and without the objective truth of the Bible, I listen to the wrong spirits. I need both working together—the quickening of the Holy Spirit and the grounding of the written Word of God.

I would have expected God’s GPS to give me directions like, “In one year there will be an obstacle of death of a loved one, so get ready, and in a month you’ll turn right onto job change boulevard.” Instead, the stream I receive is, “I love you, I’m with you, peace, joy, you are mine, turn left now, I love you.” My life plans are only revealed on a need to know basis, and mostly, I don’t need to know because my gracious Father is in control, not me.

God’s main message repeated to my simple heart is, “I love you.” When I receive that, I find I know where I’m going, to whom I belong, and what to do in the next moment.

 

Prayer: Sweet Holy Spirit, help me receive your stream of guiding love.

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