The 1 Percent – A Plea, A Pledge and A Promise – The Need and Nature of Prayer

Friends, I am interrupting my usual flow of interesting quotes (which I hope you all find provocative sometimes, uplifting always) to make a plea.  My plea is on behalf of a very close friend, Michael Garrett who just 4 days ago, learned that he may have cancer as a tumor has been discovered at the base of his brain stem.  Tests continue to gain better understanding of the nature of the tumor but as of now, the news has been more grim than hopeful.

So I am making a plea from any who come across this post to take a moment to pray fro Michael in his time of need.  Pray for the 1% chance they have been given that this will turn out to not be cancerous.  Pray that God’s will may become clear for all of us who love Michael and appreciate how he has served his many friends as a doctor (being a patient is not his forte, he likes to give answers and find solutions).  This is the Need of which I speak.

We submit this request to our Heavenly Father in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the very Christ who is one with the Father and the mediator for all who call upon His name as repentant sinners in need of His Grace, first for salvation and then for sustenance in this fallen world.  And we do so because He made a pledge to His followers:

He told them a parable [the parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)] to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Luke 18:1                                   

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide so that whatever you ask, the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 15:7; 16                            

The very One who created all that we see, all that we are, has pledged that the ear of our Father is always open to our request.  And I can attest that Michael is one who abides in Christ and Christ’s words abide in Michael.  Thus, these prayers will not return void.

Outside of the teachings of Christ on prayer, Paul, the greatest teacher and theologian, outside of Christ Himself, has given us a promise that we can trust:

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7                       

As you can see, from the teaching of Paul and Jesus Christ, the nature of prayer is one of hope and peace.  And more than this, God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26) even knows our needs when we don’t.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26                               

What a wonderful God we serve.  What a merciful God oversees the needs of His own, even Michael.  Would you join me in praying for Michael, first that the 1 percent chance this is not a malignancy but if it is, then doors would open to treatments (also gifts of God placed in the hands of doctors) that would benefit him whether at Duke or others we may not yet know of.  Lastly, we pray that the Garretts would so feel the love and care of God through this time, that they can rest in the peace promised and the comfort of knowing, whatever may be, it is good, because it is God.

Thank you all.

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Get to the Point

The point of this narrative (Luke 18) is not to lay down a law that a Christian must get rid of all property.  The point is for us to understand what obedience is and what goodness actually requires.  Jesus called the man’s bluff and the man folded.

– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., Copyright 1985, Kindle Edition

The Law of God is the Mirror of True Righteousness

The law of God is the mirror of true righteousness.  When we set our works before this mirror, the reflection in it tells us of our imperfections.  Jesus held this mirror up before the eyes of the rich young ruler, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal…?'” (Luke 18:20).  It is important to note here that the commandments Jesus listed for the young ruler were those included in the so-called second table of the law, the commandments that deal with our responsibilities toward fellow human beings.  These are the commandments that concern adultery, murder, stealing, and so on.  Noticeably absent in Jesus’ summary were the first few commandments that deal explicitly with our direct obligations to God.

– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., Copyright 1985, Kindle Edition

Proud, Self-Righteous Repentance

Proud, self-righteous repentance occurs when we confess the sins of other people while neglecting our own manifestations of depravity.  It can also happen when people repent of  “acceptable sins” to deflect attention from deeper sins (Luke 18:9-14)

– Driscoll, Mark and Gary Breshears, Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2008, p. 168

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector also shows that the branches of this root of exclusivistic self-righteousness can, amazingly, make protests and prayers to the effect that all is of grace.  Thus the Pharisee prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).  Is this not a clear warning to us that finding grace-dependent statements in Second-Temple Judaisim does not demonstrate that the hearts of those who made those statements were not at root self-righteous?

– John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright, copyright 2007, page 158