My Bible app verse yesterday was John 16:24 in the NLT version “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”
I love that. Now I usually stick to the MSG bible just because of the way they phrase things–the language is often very poetic and beautiful to me but occasionally other versions trump what the MSG version has to say. So congrats NLT. 🙂
Anyway I thought this verse was fitting in a number of ways for me personally:
1. I feel like I am in a season of life where I am uncertain of myself because I am going through things in my walk with God that I haven’t gone through before
2. After hearing Robert Fergusson speak at Radio City for Hillsong NY Conference I have been challenged to ask for things “in Jesus’s name”
3. I am desperately in need of more and more of His “abundant joy”.
Now right here in the Bible it is addressing the fact that Jesus knows I haven’t done this before and I haven’t been here before. Like in my last post He is taking me to places I have never been to and with that comes uncertainty. In my own strength it is hard to walk this path with Him; paths that years ago I didn’t have issues looking down or difficulties navigating. I go in and out of feeling anxious and lost. Yet He calls for me to ask for things (whether it be guidance, patience, or more tangible things like a specific answer to prayer) and to ask for them using His name in the midst of it all.
Now when you grow up in Church you are used to tying off the bow of a prayer with “In Jesus’s name–Amen”. It’s like the Christian version of “In conclusion” or “the end”. And yet I loved the different things that Robert Fergusson had said about the significance of His name. I took this from his posting on Hillsong Collected:
…In the Bible, names have far greater significance. When God showed Himself to Moses, He revealed His Name. When Jesus Christ asked His Father to protect us, it was through the Name that God had given Him.
It was this revelation that inspired the Early Church. They called on His Name: Jesus Christ. They acted in His Name. They understood that they were carriers of His Name. They were identified by it. It was their access to the Father. Through it they had authority and power. When Peter and John healed a lame man it was “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 4:10). They declared that, there was “no other name” (Acts 4:12) through which we find salvation.
I guess I never spent too much time thinking about it. It’s just what you called Him. It’s just what you said when you were talking about Him, things like that. And yet there seems to be something supernatural really that happens when you ask for things in His name because it is the Highest name you can use. It’s like an oath. It’s signifying that you will get what you are asking for because His word cannot come back void, even if it is in His time and in His way. It’s kind of like an adrenaline shot or a second wind that propels the prayer to heights you weren’t prepared to reach for. I think C.S. Lewis says it best with relation to what I am talking about on a personal level:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I mean really? It’s a perfect explanation because I think you go through life thinking certain things in your life are already renovated. Granted it wasn’t handled by a professional, but you’ve watched some HGTV you’ve pinned enough DIY on Pinterest. You got this. And yet it’s like Jesus kicks down your front door and yells into a megaphone “WHO ASKED FOR AN UPGRADE?” Believe it or not, want it or not, I think God’s blueprints call for upgrades you don’t even think are necessary. You just replaced that “stove” you just patched up that “hole in the wall”. What’s the point?
The point is sometimes you get used to living in a crappy apartment. It suits you. It takes care of the basics and when you splurge on some new towels or something you feel a sense of accomplishment. But what if God winces when he sees what you have settled for? What if he has this beautiful blueprint of a beautiful entryway, a fireplace, a spa-like tub, walk-in closets but you’ve been content to just live in one. Like that’s good enough. I don’t deserve THAT. I’m not saying we’re all entitled to live like royalty but I’ve been especially guilty of feeling shame for even purchasing the basics. Like is it really that big of a deal to buy new socks once in a while? Maybe you don’t need them, but maybe it isn’t about the socks and it’s more about what is wrong with you accepting to live a life of less when you serve a God of more? I think Jesus knows us all too well. In Ephesians 3:20 NLT it says:
“All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
If God is contractor, designer, remodler–maybe we should just let him create.