God Knows Your Name

Allow me to introduce myself in the Aramaic fashion—I am Craig bar Raymond. I am proud of my father and want my name to always be associated with his, so I remember my heritage by telling people I am Craig son of Raymond. 

If I wanted to be a little more formal I might introduce myself as Craig Bar Raymond Bar Colson, or even Craig Bar Raymond Bar Colson Bar Walker, to honor my forefathers back four generations. 

People took great pride in their family heritage. They wanted to keep their connection to their family and their tribe intact and known to those around them. It’s how they kept their standing in their community.

That’s why it’s odd that Luke—the premier historian that he is—introduces us to a man he simply calls “a blind man” in the city of Jericho. Luke was always so precise in mentioning names throughout both his Gospel and the Book of Acts, and it appears that this man does have a name. In the Gospel of Mark he is called Bartimaeus, and presumably Luke used Mark as one of his source documents. So why would Luke omit this guy’s name?

Keep in mind that “bar” simply means “son of,” so although Mark calls him Bartimaeus, his name is really something like “_________ son of Timaeus.” Is that because he was born blind and his parents didn’t even name him? Or was he thought so little of that people couldn’t remember his first name? Maybe it’s because Timaeus means unclean, defiled, polluted. So this blind beggar is really just the Anonymous son of Filth! 

This beggar is looking for alms in Jericho when he hears a commotion. He asks what is happening and is told, that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. 

This man knows the reputation of Jesus, recalling that He has even opened blind eyes. Immediately he shouts, “Jesus, son of David have mercy on me!” Son of David is a title only used twice in the New Testament (also see Matthew 15:22), and both times by desperate people who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. 

Actually, his phrase is in the form of a command, so he really says, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me NOW! 

“Who do you think you are, you nameless beggar,” the townspeople rebuke him. “How dare you demand anything of anyone! Shut your mouth, you worthless piece of filth!” 

Undeterred, this man now raises his voice to a shriek and repeats, “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME NOW!” 

This shriek gets Christ’s attention and He stops dead in His tracks. He commands that this man be brought to him.

Check out the confidence this blind man shows—he throws his cloak aside to get to Jesus. Why is that significant? Because he’s blind! If he can’t see, how is he going to find his cloak again? Who would ever want to help him? 

Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He was testing him: did he want a hand-out? did he want revenge on the cruel people in Jericho? did he want to get back at his parents? 

He specifically prays, “I want to see.” Jesus is moved by compassion (Matthew 20:34) and says, “Your faith has made you whole.” The blind man immediately is healed! 

What was his faith that healed him? It was a loud, insistent, persistent, won’t-take-no-for-an answer, audacious request. The crowd said he was asking too much, but Jesus was moved to compassion by his insistence and boldness and answered his prayer. 

That community may have forgotten that man’s name. Maybe the blind man had even forgotten his own name. But God hadn’t! 

Jesus is moved by faith-filled, won’t-be-silenced cries for mercy. He wants to answer your specific requests. You aren’t an anonymous son or daughter of filth. You aren’t marginalized, worthless, or overlooked by your Heavenly Father. 

God knows your name. He knows your need. He is passing by. Cry out to Him again and again and again! When He answers your prayer, you are made whole and our Heavenly Father is glorified. 

Join me this Sunday as we continue to learn lessons for our prayer life from the bold pray-ers we find on the pages of the Bible. 

Continually Learning To Pray

Lord, teach us to pray… (Luke 11:1). 

This is a request I can continue to make. Jesus is in heaven interceding for me (Hebrews 7:25), and He has given me His Holy Spirit to help me pray (Romans 8:26). 

Jesus is the Perfect Pray-er, so He is the one to Whom I should continually say, “Lord, teach me to pray.”

The key thought Jesus presents is persistence (see Luke 11:8-10). Why? Because the One to Whom I persistently appeal has told me to! God is my Heavenly Father—He wants to give the best to His children. He even gives us “how much more”! 

I learn to pray by praying.

I have to begin to do it and then let the Holy Spirit instruct me. In the meantime, even my childlike prayers are clarified and amplified by the Spirit, they are used by Jesus to intercede on my behalf, and they are carried into the throne room of Almighty God as an incense before Him. He loves to hear from me, or else He would not have told me to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.

To paraphrase a father who was in desperate need of Christ’s help, “Lord, I am praying; help me to keep on praying!” (see Mark 9:24) 

10 Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

the-christian-in-complete-armourChristian, are you ready to do spiritual battle? You need to make sure you are properly equipped with all the armor God has for you. Check out my review of William Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour by clicking here, and then enjoy this first set of quotes.

“Christ’s blood is the only wine which gladdens God’s heart and satisfies His justice at the same time. … No grape of our own harvest is pressed into this sweet cup. It is as if Christ says, ‘When [God] comes to comfort you with the forgiveness of your sins, He will take of mine, not anything of yours. I purchased your peace with God with My blood, not by your tears of repentance or morning for your sins.’”

“Unbelief is a sin-making sin. … It is a sin which holds out last on the battlefield, the one which the sinner is least aware of, and which the saint ordinarily conquers last. It is one of the chief fortresses to which the devil retreats when other sins are routed.”

“Do you take pleasure in choosing Christ? Do you go to Him not only for safety but also for delight? As the lover said of her bridegroom, ‘I sat down under his shadow with great delight’ (Song of Solomon 2:3). This must be a deliberate choice, wherein the soul seriously weighs the covenant Christ offers and then chooses Him.”

“Faith puts forth an assisting act in prayer. … It assist the soul with persistence. Faith is the wrestling grace. It comes up close to God, reaches out to Him, and will not easily take a denial. … Never before could the Christian know what to do with a promise in prayer until faith teaches him to press in to God with it, humbly yet boldly. … Prayer is the very breath of faith.”

“If a group of men and children were to wade through a brook no deeper than a man’s head, the men would have a definite advantage over the children. But if they tried to cross the ocean, the men as well as the children would need a ship to carry them. And only the insane would try to wade through without the help of a ship just because they are a little taller than the rest.”

“Beware of opposing the Spirit. Does He beam light from His Word into your understanding? Be careful what you do with this candle of the Lord that lights your mind; do not pride yourself in this new insight, or it may be snuffed out in an instant. If the Holy Spirit confirms the light in your understanding so that it sets your conscience on fire with the awareness of sin, do not resist Him. … satan longs for you to quench the Spirit by trying to calm your own conscience.”

“Christian, there are many delights which saints traveling to heaven meet on their way there, besides what God has for them at the journey‘s end. It is the Christian whose faith is strong enough to act upon the promise who finds and possesses these pleasures.”

“A person should no more sit down and be content in his unresolved doubt than one who thinks he smells fire in his house would go to bed and sleep. He will look in every room and corner until he is satisfied that everything is safe. … In spite of his doubts the true believer leans on and desires still to cling to Christ. While Peter’s feet were faltering beneath the water he was lifting up prayer to Christ.”

“Have you ever freely given yourself up to Christ? Everybody professes this, but the presumptuous soul, like Ananias, lies to the Holy Ghost by keeping back the most important part of what he promised to lay at Christ’s feet. The enjoyment of lust is entwined about his heart and he cannot persuade himself to deliver it up to God’s justice. His life is bound up in it, and if God will have it from him He must take it by force; there is no hope of gaining his consent. Is this the picture of your faith? If it is, you have blessed yourself in an idol; you have mistaken a bold face for a believing heart.”

“Faith strips away the veil from the Christian’s eyes so he can see sin in its nakedness before satan disguises it with flattering costumes. Faith enables the soul to recognize not only the nature of sin void of all true pleasure, but also the temporal quality of its frivolous elation. Faith persuades us not to give up God’s sure mercies for satan’s transient thrills.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this book soon. To be notified as soon as those quotes are posted, be sure to subscribe to my blog. In the meantime, every day I share inspiring quotes on Twitter and Tumblr, so make sure you follow me there too!

No One Is Beyond The Reach Of Prayer

A.W. Pink“In praying for His enemies not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but He also taught us never to regard anyone as beyond the reach of prayer. If Christ prayed for His murderers, then surely we have encouragement to pray now for the very chief of sinners! Never lose hope. Does it seem a waste of time for you to continue praying for that man, that woman, that wayward child of yours? Does their case seem to become more hopeless every day? Does it look as though they had gone beyond the reach of divine mercy? Perhaps that one you have prayed for so long has been ensnared by one of the satanic cults of the day, or he may now be an avowed and blatant atheist, in a word, an open enemy of Christ. Remember then the Cross. Christ prayed for His enemies. Learn then not to look on any as beyond the reach of prayer.” —A.W. Pink

Never Hurry, Just Persist

This is from On This Day.

Sheldon JacksonWe often rush when we should plod, forgetting that we usually accomplish more by persisting than by hurrying. 

Sheldon Jackson was born on May 18, 1834 in the Mohawk Valley of New York. When he was four his parents dedicated him to God’s service, and his ambition from youth was to be a missionary. After graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary, he joined the thousands trekking to the American West. Most were searching for gold, land, and open skies. Wagon trains were leaving St. Louis daily. The golden spike tied East to West in 1866 as the Union Pacific Railway opened. Boom towns arose. Cowboys and mining camps, rowdy saloons and gunfighters filled the frontier. Jackson was everywhere, searching for souls with the fervor of a prairie fire. He once organized seven churches in 15 days. 

He stood just over five feet tall, but his size, he said, allowed him to sleep anywhere. His bed was a stagecoach floor, a saloon loft, a hollow log, a teepee, a canoe. Someone described him as “short, bewhiskered, bespectacled, but a giant.”And his field was immense. He served as superintendent of Presbyterian missions from New Mexico to Minnesota. 

When the United States purchased Alaska, he headed there at once, and the North soon became his passion. He explored the dangerous, uncharted fog-hidden coasts of the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. He established schools for the young and placed missionaries in the hamlets. He evangelized, established churches, and brought Bibles to the Eskimos. 

He worried that explorers and exploiters were slaughtering whales and seals, depriving Eskimos of their natural food supplies. So, braving criticism and ridicule, Sheldon raised $2,000 and brought reindeer from Siberia. Soon great herds were providing transportation, food, clothing, and livelihood for the people. Sheldon made 26 trips to Alaska, and during 50 years of ministry he traveled a million miles through the West and North. He oversaw the establishing of 886 churches. Few men have ever so planted the Christian faith over such a wide area. His secret? His friends simply explained, “He never hurried. He just persisted.” 

Importunity

Praying HandsImportunity is not a word that pops up in everyday conversation, but the concept permeates Scripture. Check out these words from Jesus—

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is a friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (Luke 11:8, NIV)

Boldness here in the NIV is translated IMPORTUNITY in the King James Version. It’s the only time this Greek word is used in the New Testament, and it is used in context to prayer (see vv. 1-4). The English and Greek dictionaries both agree on the definition of importunity…

…urgent, shameless asking, sometimes to the point of being annoying!

This is how Jesus tells us to pray.

Notice Jesus said the friend responded not out of friendship, but because of the importunate attitude.

God responds to our importunity as well (vv. 9-10). He responds not as an annoyed friend and not even as a loving earthly father (vv. 11-12). Friends and fathers have moods and they have limits—Our God has no limit on His love nor on His supply!

He will give him as much as he needs … Ask and it will be given to you… How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (vv. 8, 9, 13).

“Our giving depends much on the state of our minds at the moment. When depressed, we have no pleasure in giving; we either refuse, or we give merely to get quit of the applicant. Darkness of mind shrivels us up, makes us selfish, neglectful of others. When full of joy, giving seems our element—our joy overflows in this way; we cannot help giving; we delight in applications; we seek opportunities of giving. So with the blessed God. Being altogether happy, His delight is to give; His perfect blessedness flows out in giving. We can never come wrongly to such an infinitely happy Being.” —Horatius Bonar (emphasis added)

May the Holy Spirit help us to be importunate in our prayer today, for you can never come wrongly—nor too often—to such a happy, loving, generous Father!

Poetry Saturday—While Others Are

William Arthur WardBelieve while others are doubting.
Plan while others are playing.
Study while others are sleeping.
Decide while others are delaying.
Prepare while others are daydreaming.
Begin while others are procrastinating.
Work while others are wishing.
Save while others are wasting.
Listen while others are talking.
Smile while others are frowning.
Commend while others are criticizing.
Persist while others are quitting. William Arthur Ward

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