Psalm 145:18 - "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth."
Have you ever used your GPS or heard of someone who has? Have you noticed that if the voice tells you to make a turn and you miss it that the voice doesn't immediately scold or condemn you?! It merely "recalculates" the information it has and starts you on the correct course from where you are. YOU know you made a mistake, but the GPS doesn't point that out. It merely takes you where you went off course and gets you on the right road. It's one of the few "voices" you hear that doesn't belittle you or make you feel lousy.
God is like that. He knows when we go off course and He could easily condemn and ridicule us, much like some of our "well-meaning" brethren. God doesn't let us off without making us face some of the consequences of our failures. But He doesn't keep us from getting back "on course." He's ALWAYS READY to listen when we call on Him, in truth! Meaning, when we really mean business and want to get back where we belong - HE'S READY!
Psalm 145:18 tells us that God is near, very close, literally in the heart of every believer! He knows when you want to get back to where you belong. And He's ready to do that without condemning you about your sin. The implication is that you've recognized your sin, confessed it to the Lord, and desire to change your ways. This is all included in the words, "...who call upon Him in truth..." You mean business and He knows it.
When we fail Him, He's immediately ready, "...near to all who call upon Him..." to bring us back to the "victory road." "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." And He is always wanting us back on the "triumphant highway." "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ..." And He wants us to always conquer the rough pathways we must travel, "...in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
The devil, and some not-so-well-meaning-Christians, expect us to "beat ourselves up" over our failures, to feel that we must "earn" our way back to God's favor (as if we ever "earned" it in the first place!) Some expect us to meet the "37 steps to true repentance" before God will listen to us! I'll be sharing more in the weeks to come how Christians can see God work in their lives, especially when they feel they don't deserve anything from Him. A good thought here is this: Guess what?! You NEVER deserved it anyway! When God works in us its always done by His grace. I'll comment on 1 Corinthians 15:10 in my next commentary.
God is near to all who call upon Him! When He gets us back on course He immediately fills our hearts with joy and the change in our lives comes. Are you ready? God is!
(My comments on EVANGELISM 360 will resume, but I'm all too aware there are many Christians who can't rejoice over their own salvation let alone seek the salvation of anyone else because they're crippled by the criticism of others as well as their own hearts. When a Christian is living in the Joy of the Lord, they are a potent force in winning others to our Savior! That's what I want to see for believers because I believe that's what God wants to see too!)
When I pray I've learned to have two important "preparations of my heart" as I anticipate how God WILL answer: First, I ANTICIPATE His answer. That is, I look forward with a believing heart, that God will answer my prayers. Second, I have learned to SUBMIT my requests to God for His approval of my requests, or His denial of my requests, or His altering of my requests. But I always seek to pray according to God's will, which ultimately is praying according to God's Word.
Now, God DOES ANSWER prayers that I've labeled "PRAYER 360." Remember, I have encouraged prayers for the souls of men and women by requesting that God would do His work of "conviction" (John 16:8-11) in their hearts and His work of giving them a "searching heart" (Jeremiah 29:13) to want to know God and a quest to find out how they can be right with Him.
I want to give you some real examples I've experienced in the last two months of God's answers to my prayers.
1 - I have a neighbor, who for the last ten years, at least, has had a "mocking" response to my attempts to witness to him. He's been pleasant to me but usually he would smile or joke when I brought up the subject of faith in Christ. But over the last year or so I've noted his failing health and that prompted me to be even more earnest in my praying. I particularly prayed that God would give him a heart to search for God and that God would lead him to talk with me. About a six or seven weeks ago he saw me working out back of my house and he came right up to me and said that he had gone to his priest seeking to get back into his church. He wasn't satisfied that there was much hope, so he came to see me. Please note two things: He sought his priest and then he came to see me. God answered my prayer by giving him a "searching heart" and God led him to seek me out. I've been to visit him and his family twice now. I've given them a Bible and a Bible Story Book and several other pieces of literature and I've spoken to two of this man's adult children about their relationship with Christ. I'm claiming this man and "his household" for Christ!
2 - I've been praying for a man, G who is married to someone in my church, K. I've prayed that G would feel that God is seeking him. Here's what happened. A rather new neighbor, C has come into my neighborhood and I just met him two weeks ago. I witnessed to C and found out that he works in the same warehouse where G works. This new neighbor, C goes and sees G and let's him know of my witness to him and that I was his wife's pastor. G in turn, came home and told his wife K that now he's got someone in his workplace who knows her pastor and is now talking with him. G hasn't actually said he is seeking God, but I can sure see how God is seeking him! I'll keep praying!
3. Two new women came to our church three Sundays ago. I found out that one of them is married and I prayed for her husband. He came to our church two Sundays ago and came to me seeking how he can get right with God! We met at our Men's Breakfast this past weekend and he recognized his need to trust Christ and he did! You can't ask for a better answer to prayer than that!
These are just three examples of how God is more than glad to answer our prayers "for the souls of men." Pray that your neighbors, coworkers, or other acquaintances would either start seeking God or would see how God is seeking them.