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A Prayer That Promises Joy

A Call to the Nation / Carter Conlon
The Truth Network Radio
December 17, 2023 1:00 am

A Prayer That Promises Joy

A Call to the Nation / Carter Conlon

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Carter Conlon from the historic Times Square Church in New York City. If you could just have that job, if you could just get out of that job, if you could have that career, you could have that home, if you could be in this place, if you could have that promotion at work, and we're bringing these things to God and we're wondering why is he not answering our prayer.

Thank you for joining us for this weekly program, A Call to the Nation with Carter Conlon. In 2nd Chronicles Chapter 1, we find a man named Solomon. He was the son of King David and everything he had in life was given to him on a silver platter. One day, an amazing thing happened to Solomon after he finished offering a thousand burnt offerings to the Lord. God asked him a question that made Solomon the wisest man who ever lived.

Here's Carter to explain. In John Chapter 16, Jesus is talking to his disciples. They can't really hear it at this point, but he's talking to them about what's about to transpire. He's about to go to the cross.

It's going to look like their hopes have died. It can happen that way to all of us in the Church of Jesus Christ from time to time. We have certain aspirations and hopes and dreams and things that we feel walking with the Messiah should bring into our lives. And everybody in that room would have a perspective on what it meant to have the Messiah with them. From the Old Testament, from their own hearts, whatever it is, some thought he was going to conquer the Roman Empire. Others thought there's going to be this endless supply of bread. Whatever it is that they thought, it was about to fall through their fingers. Their own thoughts were about to give way to the actual plan of God.

And they were going to have sorrow. He says in verse 22 of John 16, therefore now you have sorrow, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and your joy no one will take from you. And in that day you will ask me nothing. Now that doesn't mean we're not going to pray. It means that in that day you're going to understand things you don't understand now. In that day there's going to be an understanding given to you of what's being accomplished for you on the cross in the days ahead. Then He makes this incredible promise to these disciples, which applies to us, most assuredly or truly. Now God never has to say most assuredly to anything. When He speaks its absolute truth, He cannot lie, He can't exaggerate, can't embellish, but He says it for emphasis.

In other words, listen to this. I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name.

Ask and you will receive that your joy might be full. I can just imagine, incredulous it must have seemed for the disciples to be listening to these words and they're saying, well, what do you mean we've asked for nothing up to this point? We've asked you for bread. We've asked you to teach us how to pray that I could go through. And there's a lot of things that they'd asked Him. As a matter of fact, James and John would probably be standing there saying, well, we asked you if we could sit on your right hand and on your left.

And you basically told us no. And now you're telling us to ask whatever we we want in your name and you're going to give it to us. In Mark chapter 10 verse 35 it says, then James and John the sons of Zebedee came to him saying, teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask. Obviously they had heard something along these lines. And he said to them, well, what do you want me to do for you?

And they said, grant us that we may sit one on your right hand and the other on your left in your glory. But Jesus said to them, you do not know what you ask. You do not know what you're asking for. And then he goes on and says, it's not mine to give it to you.

It's the Father's choice. And it's beyond this moment that we're now in. In James chapter 4 and verse 3, the brother of Jesus James says, you ask and do not receive because you ask amiss that you may spend it on your pleasures. You ask, but you're asking way beneath what God wants to give you. You're asking for things that you think that you need and will make you successful and fulfilled and happy. And everyone here, you know what I'm talking about.

We've all done this. If you could just have that relationship, if you could just get out of that relationship, if you could just have that job, if you could just get out of that job, if you could have that career, you could have that home, if you could be in this place, if you could have that promotion at work. And we're bringing these things to God, and we're wondering why is he not answering our prayer.

But he said through James, because you're asking to spend it on yourself. You're asking for something that is so far beneath what I have for you, and you think that this will make you successful, fulfilled, and happy. But he said, I want you to ask for what I know will satisfy you and will give you a lasting joy, not just a temporary one. Because all the things of this world that we can ask for are only temporary joys.

And they always do start on a pinnacle and kind of degenerate, you know, into something. Our human tendency is to get bored. If we could just get that job, how happy we would be. And we go into the interview, and we promise the sun, the moon, and the stars will be the best employee you ever had.

Within three months, we're looking at our watch, wondering how we can get out with nobody noticing us. We thought it would make us happy. We thought we would be successful.

We thought it would bring such joy into our hearts. That's why I always tell young people, if you don't pray before you get married, I promise you, you'll pray after, I promise you. You'll wail and cry and fast.

Oh, yes. Pray before. Save yourself a little bit of heartache, because God has something better for you than what you think you have for yourself. Now, I want to take a look at a man in the scripture called Solomon in 2 Chronicles chapter 1. Now, Solomon, I want to look at him as a type of a new believer. Solomon is the son of David, and everything he has has been handed to him. He hasn't had to work for anything. It's all been given to him.

Look at this building, for example. This was the labor, the prayers, the pacing, all that had to be done was done by somebody else. And we entered into this incredible, beautiful place as a result of somebody else's labor. In a sense, it was handed to us. And even our salvation, we didn't do the work for it. Somebody else did the work. The Son of God did. And those who came after him who got this message to us, some of them in the shedding of their own blood and the loss of their own freedoms, in the beating, in the case of the Apostle Paul, of their own bodies.

This message did not come to us without a cost being paid by somebody. But we've inherited it today. So here we are in this beautiful place as Solomon once was. He had a new and a solid future, and everything seemed to be given to him on a silver platter. And it looked so promising for the future.

It says in 2 Chronicles chapter 1 verse 1, Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord God was with him and exalted him exceedingly. So many of us can say that today. We are finding this strength that God promises those who belong to him. I'm not what I want to be. I'm not where God wants to take me in fullness, but I'm better than I was at least. And I'm getting stronger.

Maybe the depression that was part of your characters is not there as much as it used to be, and you're looking forward to the day when it doesn't plague your mind or your heart any longer. And the Lord is God was with him, so you know that too as well. And even your friends, the Scripture says, and God exalted him exceedingly. Even your friends are beginning to notice the change in you. You're more kind than you used to be. You don't lie nearly as much as you did in the past.

You're not perfect yet, but hey, you're getting there by the grace of God. You don't get angry as quick as you used to get, and you find yourself being more generous or more of a listener than you used to be. And people are starting to comment, and your only answer is that it's because of the presence of God in my life that I'm becoming the person that I wasn't before. As the Scripture says, if anyone's in Christ, he becomes or she becomes a new creation. The old things that govern your life lose their hold. They pass away, and all things become new. Verse 6, it talks about Solomon went there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.

So Solomon is really taken with this new calling on his life, and he's grateful, and he's coming into the temple, and he's offering this incredible sacrifice of praise and prayer, which we are. I used to be a shepherd, and when I go in the barn, I would know the condition of the sheep by the sound. You can hear it.

I can't explain it. You can just hear it. You know if there's a problem, or you know if all is well just by the sound. And I heard a sound today, all day today, the sound of praise, the sound of worship, the sound of hope, the sound of a future.

There's a sound here. You know we're all on this journey together, and maybe you're in your boat, and there's a storm around you, but there's still a sound of confidence in God, and I love that sound when I come in to the house of God. And then in verse 7, it says, On that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, Ask, what shall I give you?

Imagine that. You imagine having God appear in your bedroom tonight. Just think about that, going home, and He says to you, Ask, what do you want Me to give you?

You know that's not as far fetched as it seems, because that was our opening text. Up till now you've asked for nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive that your joy might be full. I want to suggest to you that the same God that appeared to Solomon is speaking to you and to Me and telling us, Ask. Ask for what you want in My Father's name, and I'll give it to you that your joy might be full.

Here's where it gets interesting. In verse 10, Solomon said, Give me wisdom and knowledge that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can judge this great people of yours? So Solomon, he asked actually for a good thing. He said, God, I have to be able to judge between evil and good.

I have to be able to know how to do. This is a huge crowd of people coming into this temple, and I need to know how to, not only the religious part, but the governing of the nation. I need this gifting of wisdom. The interesting thing is Solomon asked for a good thing, but not everything that he would need to finish with joy. You can ask for a good thing, but the good thing can be not everything that you need to finish your journey. Getting married is a good thing.

Having provision is a good thing. And there's other things that I can talk to you about that are good things, but it might not be what you need to finish your journey. Look at in Ecclesiastes, the end of Solomon's life. The wisest man who ever lived, that's what the Scripture says, apart from the Son of God, there's never been and never will be, according to the Scripture, a man with the wisdom of Solomon.

But his life finished in an absolute train wreck. In Ecclesiastes 1, 1 he says, the words of the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem, vanity of vanity, says the preacher. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. So he says this five times. In other words, the end of my life, empty, empty, empty, empty, empty. Everything I've done, he says, there's no profit to what I have done. Going further in chapter 2 and verse 10 and 11, he said, whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure. My heart rejoiced in all my labor. And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked, so in other words, I was happy, I was doing things and even using the giftings of God in my life to do them. You know, the Bible does tell us he built aqueducts, he loved husbandry, he had cattle, he did all, he had choirs, he did all kinds of stuff and everything brought only a temporary joy, which began to dissipate, I'm sure.

And then he would do something new. And he said, this was my reward from all my labor. And then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled. And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.

And there was no profit under the sun. I was the wisest man who's ever lived. And everything I put my hand to was empty. I thought wisdom would satisfy me.

And at the end, I realized I was grasping for the wind. I was grasping for a joy that doesn't come from anything in this world. It doesn't come from achievements in this world.

It doesn't come from cattle or choirs or aqueducts or vineyards or all these other things I didn't. So I'm grasping for this joy that could have been mine if I had asked for the right thing. And he gets to the end of his journey and says there was no profit under the sun. In other words, everything I set my hand to, can you imagine getting to the end of your life and saying everything I set my hand to was so worthless? The wisest man who ever lived. There's nobody here smarter than Solomon and you never will be.

You can study for the rest of your life and you'll never even come close to the intelligence he had. Verse 15, he says, then I said in my heart as it happens to the fool, it also happened to me. So why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, this also is vanity. In other words, it's useless that I've had wisdom because it doesn't make any difference. The fool dies just the way I die. So what's the point of even being wise?

In verse 17 of chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, he says, therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. All is vanity and grasping for the wind. Can you imagine being around this guy at the end of his life? Can you imagine his family listening to him? No wonder he had a weak son that divided the nation. If this is the testimony of this man who's the wisest man who ever lived, the man who had the glory of God come down in the temple, the man who had God Himself come into his bedroom and said, ask me for what you wanted.

I will give it to you. You can imagine at the end of his life, he's just saying it's useless, it's empty, it's dry, it's pointless. I can just... Can you imagine being around that man's deathbed and you're part of his family? What do you think happens to that family at the end of his life when he makes such pronouncements?

Now here's the point. You see, he asked for what he thought he needed, but he did not ask for that, which he really did. He asked for wisdom, but he didn't ask for the heart to obey it.

And he could have. The amazing thing is that God would have given it to him if he would have had the sense to say, God, give me wisdom and give me a heart to obey it. There has to be a heart to follow it.

There has to be something inside this as God. If only when God appeared to me, he could have said, God, I want wisdom to come in and go and give me the heart of my father, David, or give me a heart to love you. That's what I've been praying in the last couple of years. God, give me a heart to love you all of my days. Don't let my devotion for you become less than it ever has been.

As a matter of fact, God increase it as I get older. Don't let me decline. Don't let me rest on former works.

Don't let me pursue empty things. Oh God, oh God, oh God. The Lord was trying to speak to him. He was even used of God and given inspiration to write the inspired word of God by the Holy Spirit, but he wasn't listening to what God was trying to speak to him.

Let me prove it to you. Book of Proverbs, chapters 2 to 7. Chapter 2, my son, receive my words. Chapter 3, my son, do not forget my law. Chapter 4, verse 13, take firm hold of instruction.

Do not let her go. Chapter 5, my son, pay attention to my wisdom. Chapter 6, beware of being spiritually seduced.

Chapter 7, my son, keep my words. Here he is writing it, but he has no heart to follow it. His whole life, if you read Proverbs 2 to 7, his whole life and downfall is actually outlined by his own hand. He wrote his own journey down.

Isn't it amazing? But didn't have a heart to obey what he knew. You see, God knew his future. God knew what he would need.

Solomon thought that wisdom would keep him, but it won't keep us without a heart to obey it if only he had asked. You know, Jesus said, up till now, you've asked for nothing in my name. You've asked for status. You've asked for bread. You've asked for power.

You've asked for position. But I want you to ask for what will keep you. You know, I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to need six months from now, and neither do you. You know, we're sitting relatively comfortable. We're kind of a little bit dismayed at the shakings in the world today, but we have dreams and aspirations, and we have all these thoughts about what the future is going to hold, and we're asking in line with our own thoughts.

But listen to me, my brother, my sister, you might be running for your life in six months. You don't know. You don't know what's going to happen. We don't know what's going to be unleashed on this world.

But I'll tell you, who does know? God knows. God knows.

God knows. God knows what you and I are going to need six months from now because He's not bound by time like we are. He heals our past. He lives right. He's here right now in our present, and He's already in our future. He knows what you're going to face a year from now. He knows what's going to happen in the future, and He knows what you're going to need.

I want you to contrast Solomon to a man called Nehemiah, an incredible man in the Old Testament. He was a butler. Now, he's not handed a palace by a king that was his father. He's just a regular guy. He's serving in the king of Medo-Persia. He's the guy that brings in the sandwiches and the drinks, right?

And he's the guy that has to take the first bite and the first sip because everybody's trying to kill the king all the time. So a very high-risk profession that he's in at the time. He's the type of a person who's just starting out as you and I are on this journey.

Well, you more than me, but starting out on this journey in life, this journey of walking with God. And he gets a calling from God that's way outside of the box of his experience and ability. I mean, he's a butler. And he gets a call of God to go back into Israel and rebuild around Jerusalem a wall that has fallen down. And he's sent into a place of rubble and ruin to do something that can only be done by the hand of God. The guy is not an architect. He's a leader, yes, no doubt about that, but he's only been leading butlers, you understand, and people that are doing dishes and serving dinner and stuff like that. He's not an architect.

And why would anybody even believe him when he got there? Imagine you being there in Jerusalem and the wall is all busted down, the gates are burned with fire, and this guy shows up and says, hey, be of good cheer, I'm here, you know, the butler. Would you like a sandwich?

Anybody like a drink? I'm the guy that God sent to rebuild the wall. Well, see, that's what happens in our lives. God calls us usually outside of our comfort zone and our own abilities. And so he eventually stands before the king of Medo-Persia who has this incredible resource. And I want to look at it as a type of prayer, okay? He's standing before the king and the king's favor moves towards him and he says to him, what do you want? Now, if he was living by his own thought, and if he didn't take the time to pray, he would have said, well, I need six cement trucks, I need two architects, I need trowels, I need cement, I need all this stuff, because he would have tried to figure what he's going to need to do this particular work that he was given to do.

But he didn't do that. The Scripture tells us in Nehemiah chapter 2, the king said to me, verse 4, what do you request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. Have you ever thought about praying about what you should pray for?

That's the point. We think we know, like Solomon, what we should pray for, but do we have the courage to draw back and say, God, I don't know what I'm going to need a year from now, but you do. So would you show me what to pray for?

That was the difference between Nehemiah and Solomon. God knew what he was going to need. We don't even know where we're going, let alone know what we need when we get there.

I have no idea. You and I don't know what the future is going to hold. We have no idea, but God's already there and God already knows what you're going to need.

God already knows. There are some here who are going to need courage. Maybe you don't need it now, but you're going to need it then. Some are going to have to have the ability to forgive. You don't need it right now, but you're going to need it then. Some are going to have to have giftings of the Holy Spirit and to be able to stand and lead a confused generation into the safety of Christ. You don't need it right now, but you're going to need it then.

Praise be to God. This is the prayer that he said, up till this time, you've asked nothing in my name. In other words, you've asked nothing along the lines of what I want to give you. You haven't really asked me for what you need. You've asked for what you think you need. James and John, you want power. Others, you want bread. Others, you're asking for things that are simply temporary and they won't keep you to the end. But now, I'm going to the cross and after that victory is won, there are things available for you that you're going to need to get through to the end of this journey.

So ask now that your joy might be full. Praise be to God. You can imagine like Solomon gets to the end and his life is just a train wreck and everybody around him, God blessed him, but it must have been discouraging. This man who knew the glory of God, this man who had God appear to him and he obviously told people that. This man who has given this incredible wisdom dies so despondent, dies saying everything is for nothing. He dies with a total absence of joy in his life.

How discouraging that would be. You imagine if you and I finish our journey like that, how discouraging it would be for our families and our friends and others that we told about Jesus, but yet we get to the end and we're just wringing our hands with regret because we didn't have the sense to ask God for what he knew we needed. You've been listening to Carter Conlon from Times Square Church in New York City. For more information and resources to help you in your walk in Christ, log on to tsc.nyc. That's tsc.nyc. And be sure to be with us next week for A Call to the Nation with Carter Conlon.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 03:22:09 / 2024-05-23 03:32:32 / 10

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