Take comfort in the fact that when you start a prayer, God already knows your needs.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Well, sure, I wait for you to answer, you know that. [chuckle] I trust everything’s alright at your house. Today, we want to go on in the Gospel of John. We’re starting then in Chapter Three. We just finished that last verse of Chapter Two. Jesus didn’t need that anybody should tell Him about people. It says, “He needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man.” You can get a great deal of comfort out of the fact that God already knows all about you. I was about to have a season of prayer with David Morken, my dear friend of many years, going back into the 1940’s, when he and I were both in Youth for Christ. He was a missionary returned from the field out in Indonesia somewhere, and a man full of the Spirit of God, and full of Scripture. My first meeting with him, as I recall, was when we were bunking together at a place called Swampscott, just north of Boston, where they were having a regional council meeting and he was my roommate.
I was half asleep, when I heard him saying softly in the other corner of the room… There were two beds in that large room, as I recall, and he was across the room in the other bed, but I heard his voice, “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners, spake in times past unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath in these last times, spoken unto us by His Son,” and so on, and he was quoting Hebrews. Well, I listened to that. He went right straight on through the book. I fell asleep at Hebrews 11:6, “He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He’s a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” And I said, “Lord, I believe. Good night.” [chuckle] I fell asleep. Man full of the Word of God, blessed brother, still is. I saw him recently out on the West Coast. But he said to me, one time, as we were about to engage in a season of prayer together, just the two of us. We were gonna seek God about some matters, and he looked at me steadily, and said, so very lovingly, but quite directly, he said, “Bob, now, remember, God is not gonna discover anything about you. By the time you end this prayer, He knows it all already.” The Psalmist said, “Thou art acquainted with all my ways. There’s not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it all together.”
God knows all about you, and that can either be a source of fright and panic, or it can be a source of great comfort. God knows all about you. I remember when, as a little boy, I would come running to my father during those days when we lived in Cleveland, Ohio. My sister Mildred was keeping house for us, just a slip of a girl herself. I don’t know how she ever carried that burden of caring for the home, and going to school, and all of that, but she was… And sometimes, I’d come crying into the house, and run to my father, telling my little, boyish troubles. And he’d put me on his knee, and hug me, and take the heel of his calloused laboring man’s hand, and wipe away my tears, and he’d say, “Daddy knows.” Well, I never stopped to ask him what he knew. I just took great comfort in the fact that he did understand what was going on with me and how bad that skinned knee may have hurt. [chuckle] God knows. Jesus, your blessed Savior was tested in all points, like as you are. Are you tested today? Are you tempted today? Are you harassed today? Are you discouraged today? Are you tired today? Just remember the Lord Jesus knows all about you. He knew what was in man. Take comfort in the fact that your Lord knows. “Well, why should I tell Him then?”
He wants you to tell Him. Isn’t that reason enough? The Bible says, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in a time of need.” He wants you to tell Him. Isaiah says, “Ye who are the Lord’s remembrancers, give Him no rest, until He establish peace in Zion.” We’re the Lord’s remembrancers. Nothing delights the heart of a parent or a grandparent more than to have a little child look up smilingly, and say, “You promised me.” And the trust of that little child would cause you to do everything you have to do to keep that promise, isn’t it true? The Lord’s remembrancers, He likes to have you remind Him of His promises. Like the believers in Korea, about whom I told you a while back, meeting at four in the morning before the five o’clock prayer meeting, looking in their Bible for promises, and when Eric Hutchings asked why they were there so early, they said, “Oh, we’re looking up promises that we can throw up to heaven when we pray.”
He knows all about you. Take comfort in the fact, that when you start a prayer, God already knows your needs. “Your heavenly Father knoweth what you have need of before you ask Him,” Jesus said. “Through the prophet,” God said, “Before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” There is no doubt, but that God knows about it, but He wants you to tell Him. Why? Because in the telling, your faith can become operative and faith is the catalyst that connects your need with God’s almightiness.
“I must tell Jesus all of my troubles. I cannot bear these burdens alone. Jesus will help me, Jesus alone.” Remember the old song? It’s gone out of vogue. I haven’t heard it sung in years, but it’s still true. He knew what was in man. You don’t have to inform Him, but He does like to have you tell Him. Alright? Well, that was kind of a detour and I didn’t intend to go back into the Second Chapter, but maybe it’d be encouraging to somebody who listened. We come now to Chapter Three and it says, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said unto him, ‘Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ”
Do you know about the Pharisees? I’ve looked up something about them. Let me just sort of summarize some of the knowledge we have about them. It was a Jewish religious party that flourished during the latter part of the Second Temple period. Their insistence on the binding force of oral tradition, the ‘unwritten Torah,’ they called it, still remains a basic tenet of Jewish theological thought. When the Mishnah, that’s the first constituent part of the Talmud, was compiled about AD 200, it incorporated the teaching of the Pharisees about Jewish law. Now, they don’t appear in history until early in the second century BC. They were, in fact, spiritual descendants of the Hasideans, who were noted for their piety, their earnest prayer, and their careful observance of the commandments, and the Sabbath. Preserving this religious heritage, the Pharisees strove to imbue the daily lives of the Jewish people with a sense of God. By interpreting the law of Moses and the context of changing situations, the Pharisees provided clear-cut norms for virtually every moment of life. This practice led to accusations reflected in the New Testament, that the Pharisees insisted on the letter of the law in a formalistic legalism that killed the Spirit. The Lord Jesus said, “You insist on the tradition of the elders, but you’re hypocrites.” That’s what He called them.
Nevertheless, the personal austerity and deep religious spirit of the Pharisees won a wide following among the common people, who also felt great enmity toward the pagan Roman rulers. You see, the Sadducees, that was a different religious party, they taught that the written Torah was the only source of revelation. But the Pharisees invoked the entire Torah, that means both oral tradition and the first five books of the Bible, while instructing in the synagogue, so they worked from this broader base. They did have a belief in an immortal soul, and personal resurrection, divine punishment for sin, free will to reconcile with predestination, and the existence of angels, very similar to some of the things that later came along in Christian beliefs. Well, the Pharisees disappeared from history in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem, but their theology still lives on. Pharisees were good people, in terms of their commitment to what they believed was the revelation of God’s will. Where they seem to have gone astray, is that they interpreted, building into a tradition, year after year, and decade after decade, century after century, really, they built their interpretation of the law of Moses into all sorts of regulations.
Someone has said that there were over 600 laws that a sincere Pharisee was supposed to keep every day, so that you can see, that he or she wouldn’t be doing much more, busy, busy, keeping the oral tradition of the elders. The Lord Jesus decried that, He said, “You keep the tradition, but you provide loopholes for yourselves. Instead of really taking God’s Word seriously, you provide side exits for yourself, so that you can get away with it.” That’s what He told them. Well, here we have a man of the Pharisees and he was a ruler of the Jews, that is to say, he had some political clout as well. Theologically right and with political influence, now, he comes to see the Lord Jesus. Personally, I am not among those who say that he came, because he was scared. There is no reason to believe that. He didn’t appear scared later on in the record, when he stood up and said words in defense of our Lord Jesus, and he didn’t appear scared when he came with Joseph to ask for the body of the Lord Jesus. So maybe he was, but maybe he wasn’t. Maybe it was just that the Lord Jesus was busy with people all day long, and now, has a chance, after dinner, to talk with Him.
I’m gonna give Nicodemus the benefit of the doubt, and say that he was eminently sincere, and that he had determined in his own mind to find out something about this man, having decided that, because of the miracles that He was doing, there must be some connection between Him and the divine. That’s what he said, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him”. Interestingly enough, the Lord Jesus did not accept that proof of validity of His ministry. Miracles by themselves do not prove that somebody is actually true. Read the Book of Exodus, and find out that those who were opposing Moses, also did some miraculous things, and that ability to go beyond the normal human frame of possibility, that has existed in our world throughout the centuries. Miracles by themselves are no proof. Jesus said, “There is one proof and that’s being born again.” We’ll get at this the next time we get together.
Father God, today, may thy blessing be upon us richly. May we be living proof that Jesus is alive. In His name, I pray, Amen. ‘Til I meet you, once again, by way of radio, Walk With the King today and be a blessing.
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