The Approachable Jesus

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A friend of mine who was in a position of leadership in the Assemblies of God used to joke with people, “Since you’re bowing and walking backwards out of my office, would you like to kiss my ring too?” There are some people that we feel are in a special class so that we have to approach them differently. 

If we feel that way about certain people, what might we be thinking when we consider approaching the supreme, awesome, preeminent, incomparable Jesus?! It’s very likely that we could feel Him to be unapproachable, as though we aren’t worthy of His attention. 

But when Jesus Himself told us, “When [not ‘if’] you pray,” He is assuming that we will pray. And then He adds this amazing thought: “And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13)! 

Jesus loves to help us. He died a cruel death on the Cross so that He could help us! Jesus ties our trusting prayer with His willingness to serve us (Luke 12:22-37). Note this last line from our approachable Savior: 

It will be good for those servants whose Master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (v. 37) 

Jesus serves us?! What an amazing thought! But does this make Jesus somehow less majestic? I like what John Piper has to say about this: “Does this belittle the risen Christ—to say that He was and is and will ever be the servant of His people? It would, if ‘servant’ meant ‘one who takes orders,’ or if we thought we were His masters. Yes, that would dishonor Him. But it does not dishonor Him to say that we are weak and need His help.” 

How do we not treat Jesus as an order-taking servant? First, we have to remember that approachable doesn’t mean something we do casually. I think this is discovered in our attitude—it’s the difference between being childlike and being childish. 

The childlike attitude is one of wonder and trust. One that calls God, “Daddy.” One that is lovingly dependent on Him. One that says, “I don’t understand what I’m going through right now, but I trust Your wisdom.” 

The childish attitude is one who treats majestic things flippantly. Perhaps the childish one talks about God as “the Big Guy upstairs.” Or one who remains selfishly independent, or who says, “Do it my way—now!”

The childlike attitude glorifies Jesus as our approachable Servant Savior. 

The childlike attitude also recognizes that there are more dimensions of the majesty of God to be discovered in an abiding relationship with Jesus. Our approachable Savior wants us to come to Him, to call to Him for help, and to know Him more intimately (Jeremiah 29:13-14; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19, 22). 

Prayer not only unlocks deeper, proper intimacy with Jesus, but it conforms our heart more and more to His heart. As we are conformed to Him, we reflect His approachable glory to others (2 Corinthians 4:6, 3:18). 

We approach the awesome Jesus reverently in childlike faith. It’s in God’s presence that the Holy Spirit matures our faith so that we become glory-reflectors that point others to Jesus. 

If you’ve missed any of the eight messages in our series Awesome: Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus, you can find the list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Powerful Childlike Prayer

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

I was at a friend’s house and interacting with their two young children. Their son was very energetic and playful, but not very talkative. When the tikes climbed up to the kitchen counter for lunch, their mom asked them what they wanted to eat. The little girl placed her lunch order and then said, “He wants PB&J with milk.” I asked him, “Is that really what you want?” He smiled a big grin and nodded his head. Isn’t nice to have someone give us words when we are lacking in our own vocabulary? 

Last week we learned how the Spirit of Truth would help us speak truthful words to those who were antagonistic to the Good News of Jesus. If the Holy Spirit will do this when we are speaking to people who are enemies of the Cross of Christ, how much more so will He help us when we are speaking to our loving Heavenly Father! 

Here’s something we never have to doubt: God’s love for us. We don’t have to try to get our Father’s attention because He wants to lavish His love on us (Matthew 6:7-8; Luke 11:9-13; Ephesians 1:5). 

Jesus likens our coming to God as a child coming to its father. Sometimes we come with fears or tears, sometimes with hunger or thirst, or sometimes just to feel His closeness. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Adoption, and He loves to keep on reminding us how much our Father loves us (Romans 8:14-17). 

“When our perplexed spirit is so befogged and beclouded that it cannot see its own need and cannot find out the appropriate promise in the Scriptures, the Spirit of God comes in and teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance whatever our Lord has told us. He guides us in prayer and thus He helps our infirmity. … He will write the prayers that I ought to offer upon the tablets of my heart, and I will see them there and so I will be taught how to plead! It will be the Spirit’s own Self pleading in me and by me and through me before the throne of grace!” —Charles Spurgeon 

Our loving Father is not looking for well-polished prayers; He’s looking for real, childlike prayers. Let’s be honest: Not even the most educated person in the world has a vocabulary sufficient enough to accurately communicate with The Almighty God! So He wants us to come to Him in simple, childlike anticipation. Jesus reminded us, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Our Father wants to answer our prayers, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us pray in a way that He can answer (Romans 8:26-27). 

The Holy Spirit turns our tearful, childlike prayers into powerful, poetic prayers!

Don’t try to spruce up your vocabulary before you come to God in prayer. Just come to God in prayer, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make a beautiful prayer even out of your childlike groanings! The Holy Spirit turns our groans into prayerful poetry in our Father’s ears! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series called We Are: Pentecostal, I’ve shared the complete list here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Simple Faith Is Still Powerful Faith

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Simple Faith Is Still Powerful Faith

     I would have you note that the faith that justified Abram was still an imperfect faith, although it perfectly justified him. It was imperfect beforehand, for he had prevaricated as to his wife and bid Sarai, ‘Say you are my sister’ (Genesis 12:13). 

     It was imperfect after it had justified him, for the next chapter we find him taking Hager, his wife’s handmaid, in order to effect the divine purpose, and so showing a lack of confidence in the working of the Lord. It is a blessing for you and for me that we do not need perfect faith to save us! ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you’ (Matthew 17:20). If you have but the faith of a little child, it will save you. Though your faith is not always at the same pitch as the patriarch’s when he staggered not at the promise through unbelief, yet if it is simple and true, if it confides alone in the promise of God, it is an unhappy thing that it is no stronger, and you ought daily to pray, ‘Lord, increase my faith,’ but still it will justify you through Christ Jesus! A trembling hand may grasp the cup that bears a healing draught to the lip, but the weakness of the hand will not lessen the power of the medicine.

From Justification By Faith

A prayer that Jesus loved was simply this: “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:14-27). The recognition that Jesus alone could help is the essence of faith. 

I’ve often said that the simplest, most powerful prayer we can pray is, “Lord, help!” In just those two words we are saying, “I cannot do a thing to help myself, but, Lord, I believe Your power is limitless to help me!” 

Small faith is still powerful faith—even faith as small as a mustard seed—because it can move mountains. Childlike faith touches the heart of God. I love how Spurgeon reminds us that the weakness of the hand that grasps the cup promise does not lessen the power of the medicine in the cup. 

The best way to learn to pray in faith is simply to pray in faith. A baby doesn’t wait until he has a fully-formed vocabulary to ask his father or mother for help. Just pray! The Holy Spirit can turn even your childlike prayers into pleasing sounds in your Heavenly Father’s ears. 

Maybe you could paraphrase that father who was in desperate need of Christ’s help, “Lord, I am praying; help me to keep on praying!

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Poetic Groans

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Our Prayer Helper 

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26) 

     A man’s heart is moved when he groans. A groan is a matter about which there is no hypocrisy. A groan comes not from the lips, but from the heart. A groan, then, is a part of prayer that we owe to the Holy Spirit, and the same is true of all the prayer that wells up from the deep fountains of our inner life. [see also Jeremiah 4:19; Isaiah 38:14; Psalm 77:4, 38:8-9] … 

     That which is thrown up from the depths of the soul, when it is stirred with a terrible tempest, is more precious than pearl or coral, for it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit! … 

     Beloved, what a different view of prayer God has from that which men think to be the correct one! You may have seen very beautiful prayers in print and you may have heard very charming compositions from the pulpit, but I trust you have not fallen in love with them. Judge these things rightly. I pray you never think well of fine prayers, for before the thrice-holy God it ill becomes a sinful supplicant to play the orator! … The tail feathers of pride should be pulled out of our prayers, for they need only the wing feathers of faith. The peacock feathers of poetical expression are out of place before the throne of God. … God looks at the heart. To Him fine language is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, while a groan has music in it! 

From The Holy Spirit’s Intercession

God is not looking for well-polished prayers; He’s looking for real prayers. Let’s be honest: Not even the most educated person in the world has a vocabulary sufficient enough to accurately communicate with The Almighty God! 

Our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him in simple, childlike anticipation. Notice I didn’t say childish anticipation—there is a huge difference. What Paul is telling us in Romans 8 is that the Holy Spirit can make the most eloquent, childlike, sincere prayer out of our deepest longings in our hearts. 

Jesus reminded us, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Our Father wants to answer our prayers, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us pray in a way that He can answer. 

Don’t try to spruce up your vocabulary before you come to God in prayer. Just come to God in prayer, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make a beautiful prayer even out of your childlike groanings! The Holy Spirit turns our groans into prayerful poetry in our Heavenly Father’s ears!

Jesus Calling For Christmas (book review)

I love how Sarah Young turns Scripture into Jesus addressing us in the first-Person! As we are approaching the Christmas season when we celebrate Christ’s First Advent on Earth, Sarah has used her God-given talent to tell us what Jesus Himself says about His Advent, and what the joyful implications are for us today, in her newest book Jesus Calling For Christmas. 

Most people usually think of Christmas as a time of joy, peace, and celebration. But this season should carry even greater meaning for Christians who know that we are celebrating Joy and Peace personified in Jesus Christ. So Sarah, reminding us of what Jesus would say, tells us, “In the midst of this busy Advent season, keep bringing your focus back to My holy Presence. Remember that Immanuel has come, and rejoice!” 

This book is easily readable around a family dinner table, or as a bedtime reading with children. The Christmas scenery captured in this book is beautiful, the words of Jesus are easy to understand, and the corresponding Scriptures make it easy to see how Christ’s arrival on Earth fulfilled all that was prophesied about Him. 

Children already seem to have a wide-eyed wonder about Christmas time, and adults would do well to learn from them. In fact, Sarah writes Jesus saying, “Gaze at the Glory of My birth, just as the shepherds did, and respond with childlike wonder.”

Children of all ages—even the “grownup” ones!—can experience Christ’s Advent in a whole new way by reading Jesus Calling For Christmas together this season. 

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer. 

Saturday In The Psalms—Childlike Not Childish

Lord, my heart is not haughty… (Psalm 131:1).

This psalm is only three verses long, but they are three verses of immense trust in God. Truly these verses reveal extraordinary childlike dependence on God.

My heart is not haughty—I am subduing my pride.

My eyes are not lofty—I’m not looking for great things for myself.

I do not concern myself with great matters—I stay away from burdens I don’t need to carry.

I have no interest in things too profound for me—I don’t spend time on the “what ifs,” but I quietly trust God to provide for me.

I have calmed and quieted my soul—if my emotions start running too far ahead, I remind myself that God knows best what I need.

Childlike not childish!

Childlike is lovingly dependent. Childish is selfishly independent.

Childlike is trusting someone wiser. Childish is believing I know best.

John Maxwell said, “The Christian leader is mature enough to not act childish, yet remains trusting enough to stay childlike.”

Think of it this way: a “weaned child” (v. 2) is able to eat more grown-up food than an infant, but it is still dependent on a loving parent to provide that food—food that is best. It’s not necessarily food I want, but it is food I need.

David implores us to adopt this childlike dependence on God, and give up our childish independence apart from God. This attitude, David says, starts in a humbled heart.

Holy Spirit, work in my heart today. Drive out any childish selfishness for what I want, and create in me a childlike trust in my God Who gives me all that I need. Amen.

Quotes On Prayer

C.H. Spurgeon“How does your child come to you when he wants anything? Does he open a big book, and begin reading, ‘My dear, esteemed, and venerated parent, in the effulgence of thy parental beneficence’? Nothing of the kind. He says, ‘Father, my clothes are worn out, please buy me a new coat;’ or else he says, ‘I am hungry, let me have something to eat.’ That is the way to pray, and there is no prayer which God accepts but that kind of prayer—right straight from the heart, and right straight to God’s heart.” —Charles Spurgeon

John Piper“How is God glorified by prayer? Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that He will provide the help we need.” —John Piper

“Pray; pray always; or literally, in all times and seasons; not yesterday only, but today; not in darkness only, but in the light; not in adversity only, but in prosperity; not in the day of bereavement, and terror, and weariness, but in the time of security, and comfort, and peace. Pray always. Pray without ceasing.” —Horatius Bonar

Oswald Chambers On Prayer

Oswald ChambersSome great quotes from Oswald Chambers on prayer…

“Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.” —Oswald Chambers

“It is impossible to conduct your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.” —Oswald Chambers

“Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is a most initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God.” —Oswald Chambers

“The men with God’s ‘go’ in them have these three characteristics—a saving experience, the evidence of supernatural power at work, and the spiritual efficacy of success in prayer.” —Oswald Chambers

“God never hears prayer because a man is in earnest; He hears and answers prayer that is on the right platform—we have ‘boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus,’ and by no other way. It is not our agony and our distress, but our childlike confidence in God.” —Oswald Chambers

Links & Quotes

link quote

“While it’s true we need to shape up our practice of the faith, now is no time for shying away from engagement for the Gospel. Now is the favorable time for Christians to declare and defend the Christian worldview. Now is the day of salvation, and all believers must be diligent in proclaiming the Good News at every opportunity and by every means.” —T.M. Moore

“If you tell the world that Jesus is your Lord, your Savior and your Healer, a God Who can perform the impossible, they will watch to see how you react in impossible situations. Their eyes are glued to everyone who boasts of God’s goodness, power and glory. And the devil looks on, too, hoping our faith will fail.” —David Wilkerson

“There is a great God of grace Who magnifies His own infinite self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust Him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook and cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.” —John Piper

“When your ethnicity is heaven, then all adversity offers the gift of intimacy, driving you into the home of His heart.” ―Ann Voskamp

Spiritual leaders need to be emotionally healthy. Peter Scazzero has written a couple of books on this topic, and I believe this interview will entice you to check out his books.

Ty Cobb is hands-down my favorite Detroit Tiger (maybe even my all-time favorite baseball player). He has gotten a bad rap from shoddy reporting. A Terrible Beauty is on my Amazon wish list (hint, hint!), and here is a cool interview with the book’s author Charles Leerhsen.

Jesus encouraged His followers to be childlike in their innocence and wonder. Here’s a great post to help us do that: How Not To Be A Boring Adult.

[VIDEO] Bobby Conway gives a good explanation of an important piece of church history: The Apostles Creed—

The Counselor Makes Us Childlike

ChildlikeJesus loved being around kids! In fact, it still is the childlike nature that Jesus wants to see in all of us, and that’s one of the roles of the Holy Spirit as our Counselor.

There is a huge difference between being childish and childlike. Childish is being aware that what you’re doing is foolish; childlike is being innocently unaware.

Jesus was childlike.

  • He knew the kid’s songs in the street—Luke 7:32.
  • He wanted to have lot of kids around Him—Mark 10:14.
  • Most of His teaching examples were basic—farmers, birds, flowers, wedding parties.
  • Some were downright obvious—Matthew 15:16-17.
  • Some of His interactions with His adversaries were playful—Mark 11:27-33.

And when He described the way to Heaven—

He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)

Humbly loving God and innocently serving others. Isn’t that the essence of what Jesus taught us the Kingdom of Heaven was? Loving God and loving others in a childlike way.

Here’s how The Counselor trains us to be childlike:

  • Think of everyone as your friendMatthew 5:9, 44.
  • Laugh more often because you have no burdens weighing you downMatthew 11:28-30.
  • Don’t use double entendrés—…be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity)… (Matthew 10:16, AMP).
  • Be fascinated by natureLuke 12:27.
  • Exercise your imaginationMatthew 18:10; Acts 6:15; 7:55-60.

The Counselor will teach us Christ-like childlikeness; He will reprove us when we are too “adult” in our thinking; He will continually correct us when we cross the line into childishness; and He will train us to love God and love others in a childlike way.

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