It’s Who You Know
It’s Who You Know
During the American Civil War, as a result of a family tragedy, a soldier was granted permission to seek a hearing from the President. He wanted to request exemption from military service. However, when he arrived at the White House, he was refused entry and sent away. He went and sat in a nearby park.
A young boy came across him and remarked how unhappy he looked. The soldier found himself telling the young boy everything. Eventually the boy said, ‘Come with me.’ He led the dejected soldier back to the White House. They went around the back, none of the guards stopped them. Even the generals and high-ranking government officials stood to attention and let them pass through.
The soldier was amazed. Finally, they came to the presidential office. Without knocking, the young boy opened the door and walked straight in. Abraham Lincoln, standing there, turned from his conversation with the Secretary of State and said, ‘What can I do for you, Tad?’
Tad said, ‘Dad, this soldier needs to talk to you.’
The soldier had access to the President ‘through the son’. According to the New Testament, in an even more amazing way, you have access to God ‘through the son’ – Jesus.
Many people pray, but not all prayer is Christian. Christian prayer is distinctive – it is Trinitarian. St Paul writes, ‘Through him [Jesus] we have access to the Father by one Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:18).
This is why prayer is such an immense privilege. You are able to speak to God, the creator of the universe, as your Father. You come to him through Jesus, the man who is God, our Lord, brother and friend. Your prayers are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who lives within your heart.
Access… to the FatherPsalm 119:169-176
When I first encountered Jesus, I was taught a model for prayer using the mnemonic ‘A.C.T.S.’: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (see also BiOY Day 61). Each of these is represented in this passage.
The psalmist’s prayer is addressed to God. Jesus teaches us to address God as our Father. As Psalm 119 draws to a close, the psalmist prays a variety of prayers, which include ‘A.C.T.S.’:
Praise God for who he is and what he has done.
‘Let me live that I may praise You’ (v.175, AMP).
Ask God’s forgiveness for anything that you have done wrong.
‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep’ (v.176, AMP).
Thank God for health, family, friends and so on.
‘My lips shall pour forth praise (with thanksgiving and renewed trust)’ (v.171, AMP).
Pray for yourself, for your friends and for others.
‘May my supplication come before you’ (v.170).
A – Lord God our Father, I adore you. I love you Lord. I praise you that I have access to you, the Creator of the universe.
C – I confess my sins to you and ask for your forgiveness…
T – Thank you so much for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for so many wonderful answers to prayer. Thank you for…
S – Lord, I pray today for…
Access… through JesusHebrews 7:11-28
Jesus ‘brings us right into the presence of God’ (v.19, MSG). Access to the Father is made possible through Jesus. You can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). Jesus is the great high priest who makes it possible for you to ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).
Jesus is the Son, ‘who has been made perfect for ever’ (v.28). He provides you with a ‘better’ hope (v.19). The word ‘better’ appears numerous times in the book of Hebrews. The writer is constantly contrasting; not something bad with something good, but something good with something ‘perfect’ and therefore far ‘better’.
Jesus’ priesthood is based on a superior promise. The writer quotes Psalm 110:4 to show how Jesus’ priesthood was established through a promise of God. Unlike the temporary former priests, Jesus’ priesthood was confirmed by God’s promise (Hebrews 7:20–21). Jesus perfectly meets all your needs (v.26).
- Jesus has defeated death for you
It is ‘by the sheer force of resurrection life – he lives!’ (v.16). Unlike the former priests, Jesus lives for ever, and his priesthood is permanent (vv.23–24).
- Jesus is constantly praying for you
Jesus continually intercedes for those who come to God through him: ‘He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with him and intervene for them’ (v.25b, AMP).
Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813–1843) wrote: ‘If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.’
- Jesus is uniquely able to represent you
The priests had to offer sacrifices for their sin first, but Jesus was ‘completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself’ (v.26, MSG). He is the unique mediator who is fully God and fully human.
- Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice for your sins
‘Unlike the other high priests he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people’ (v.27). When Jesus offered himself on the cross, it was only necessary for this sacrifice to be offered once, since it was totally effective: ‘He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself’ (v.27).
Jesus’ qualities of a superior life, a superior promise, a superior ‘offerer’ and a superior offering, all demonstrate that his priesthood is totally effective in providing you access to the Father. As a result of Jesus’ permanent and perfect priesthood, you can ‘draw near to God’ (v.19). You can, ‘come to God through him’ (v.25).
Father, thank you that I can draw near to you today through Jesus and that I can know that he is constantly praying for me.
Access… by the Holy SpiritEzekiel 10:1-12:28
As you pray, the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, helps you to pray. It is an extraordinary privilege to be living in this time when every Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them. Before the day of Pentecost (which we read about in Acts 2), the Holy Spirit only came on particular people at particular times for particular tasks.
Ezekiel was one of those particular people. Extraordinary visions of God were given to him by the Spirit who lifted him up. Twice in this passage he says, ‘Then the Spirit lifted me up...’ (11:1,24). It was ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ who ‘came upon’ him and ‘told’ him what ‘to say’: ‘This is what the Lord says...’ (v.5).
Ezekiel went on to prophesy that one day the Spirit of God would not only be in him, but will be in all the people: ‘I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh’ (v.19).
God has given every human being a conscience. However, if we rebel against our conscience too often we become hard-hearted. If, for example, we have been hurt by others, we can harden our hearts in an attempt to block further emotional pain.
It is almost impossible to change your heart simply through a decision of the will. But God promises to give you a ‘soft heart’ – ‘a heart of flesh’ (v.19). He does this by putting a new Spirit in you (this is the Holy Spirit, see Ezekiel 36:26–27). The Holy Spirit now lives in you. He changes your heart. He replaces a heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into your heart (Romans 5:5). He heals your hurts and wounds and makes your heart tender. He gives you a ‘soft heart’ that is responsive to his gentle touch and filled with love and sensitivity to the needs of others.
These prophecies of Ezekiel were fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter explains that the promises (including those in Ezekiel) have been fulfilled: ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear’ (Acts 2:33).
From that moment onwards, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus has the Holy Spirit living within them. This remains the same for all Christians today. He promises you an undivided heart, a new spirit and a heart of flesh. He says therefore, you will obey and you will be part of God’s people and he will be your God. It is by the same Holy Spirit that you have access to the Father through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18).
Lord, give me an undivided heart. Help me today to be careful to follow your decrees and to keep your laws. Thank you that you help me to pray – to the Father, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
‘May your hand be ready to help me.’
I have rather a lot to do today; I need God’s hand to help me.
Verse of the Day
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)
The Bible in One Year commentary is now available in book form. Available on amazon.co.uk
Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1960), p.179.
Abraham Lincoln story from Graham H. Twelftree, Your Point Being? (Monarch Books, 2003), p.97.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.