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Jesus Prays for Your Faith – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2021 3:00 pm

Jesus Prays for Your Faith – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Here's Anne Graham Lotz on today's Living in the Light. So your faith and my faith is not to be based on our feelings, or our opinions, or what somebody says, or the way we were raised, or what we've been taught. Our faith is established in the Word of God.

So read your Bible. In Luke chapter 22 verse 31 Jesus said, Peter, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail. And did you know Jesus is also praying for you? With all the things that come at you as you live your life on this earth, he's praying that your faith would not fail. Here's Anne with more from Jesus Prays for Your Faith. Faith is critical.

It's a necessity. Without faith you can't please God. Without faith you can't be forgiven of your sin. Without faith you can't overcome the power and the penalty of your sin. Without faith you can't triumph over adversity. So what is faith? And it's very hard to define, isn't it? It's very hard to describe, and so I'm going to go back and use a very old illustration to try to explain it.

And I'm sure you've heard this before, but I'm just going to tell it again, okay, because it helps explain the kind of faith we're talking about. And it's that story about the acrobat, and they say that it's a true story, although I think I embellish it a little bit. But anyway, he stretched a tightrope over Niagara Falls, and so he walked over the tightrope over the falls, and he came back, and people began to gather and staring at this. And then he got a wheelbarrow, and he pushed the wheelbarrow across the tightrope over Niagara Falls, and he came back and a bigger crowd gathered, and they started to applaud. And then he got a big bag of sand, and he put the bag of sand in the wheelbarrow, and he pushed that across the tightrope over Niagara Falls, and they came back, and there's just this tremendous applause. And he said, all right, he said, you've seen me walk across the tightrope, you've seen me push the wheelbarrow, you've seen me push the wheelbarrow with a bag of sand, and how many of you think I can take a man about the same weight as the bag of sand, put him in the wheelbarrow, and go across Niagara Falls, and come back on the tightrope? And everybody hollered, oh, yes, we believe you can do that.

You've pushed the bag of sand, you've pushed the wheel, yes, we believe you can do that. And then he said, who will be that man? And there's dead silence, you know. And finally, a little old man in the back said, okay, I'll be that man. So he went, and he climbed into the wheelbarrow, and the acrobat pushed him across the tightrope, and came back to this thunderous ovation. And everybody said they believed. But really, only one man had faith. And that faith was evidenced by the fact that he climbed into the wheelbarrow, he put his whole weight down, he trusted himself completely to the acrobat. It's very important today that you and I would maintain our faith, and people are, within the church, are falling away from faith in Jesus, faith in God's words, faith in the scriptures, just at an alarming level. I just read this week about another mega pastor who's bit the dust, and I just want to weep, because that's one reason our nation is in the mess it's in, because we have just given a very tarnished image of who Jesus is.

We lack real faith, and we can say we believe, and we have all the intellectual knowledge, and we can have the right words, but how many of us have climbed into the wheelbarrow and put our weight down, just given our lives completely, fully, totally to Jesus Christ? So on this night that he was betrayed, before his arrest, and his trials, and his torture, and his crucifixion, and his death, Jesus prays for our faith. And he knows how critical it is, how essential it is, and he knows what the disciples are going to be facing.

And right now, you and I are just living in all this turmoil, confusion, fear, anger. His disciples, he knew, were getting ready to go through incredible turmoil, and confusion, and fear, and anger, and then after he's risen from the dead, he ascends into heaven, and they have the Pentecost, and then persecution comes, and it just gets crazier, and so he's praying for their faith. Do you remember when Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times, and Peter said, you know, Lord, I don't know about all these other clowns, but I'll never deny you, and I'll die for you. And Jesus said, Peter, Satan has desired to sift you like wheat, but I've prayed for you, that your faith would not fail. All the things that have come at us, he's praying that our faith would not fail. And faith that doesn't fail, number one, is established in his word.

And I just want to have fun with this for a moment, because it blessed me when I did it, so I'm going to share it with you. Verse six, he says, I have revealed you to those whom you gave me. So he's speaking of his disciples, 12 disciples minus Judas plus Paul, but we're not going to deal with Paul right now, so just 11 disciples, and I don't know if they're still in the upstairs room when he's doing this.

I don't know if he's walking to Gethsemane. Maybe he's in Gethsemane, but he's praying for his disciples, and it's these 11 men. And I want to go through the 11 disciples and give you a little biographical sketch of each one. And when I do, I want you to notice two things, and one is the diversity of these disciples. No two are alike. Maybe James and John, but even them, their personalities were different. They were brothers, but it was a very eclectic group of men.

And so I want you to notice the diversity, and then I want you to be thinking which one you're most like, okay? So let's just think about him for a moment. Andrew, he was one of John the Baptist disciples. He was standing there beside the Jordan River when John said, look, there goes Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God, who will take away the sin of the world.

And so Andrew stopped following John the Baptist. He became a disciple of Jesus, and he was actually the first person in his family to be a follower of Jesus. Somebody here, you're the first person in your family to be a follower of Jesus, but what did he do? As soon as he followed Jesus and became a disciple, he then reached back into his family, and he brought Peter, his brother, to Christ.

And then I'm assuming other family members, but he was somebody. Andrew was always bringing somebody to Jesus. He brought Peter to Jesus. Do you remember when Jesus wanted to feed the 5,000 men and their families with five loaves and two fish?

And people said, how can we do that? And Andrew said, well, I don't know, but I found this little boy who has five loaves and two fish, and you can use this. And he brought the little boy and his lunch to Jesus. When the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they went to Philip, but then Philip took the Greeks to Andrew, and Andrew brought them to Jesus. So he was somebody who was always bringing people to Jesus.

I can't think of a more wonderful reputation to have than somebody who brings people to Jesus, starting within your own home, your own family. But that's Andrew and Peter. We'll do Peter next. He was brought to Jesus by Andrew, and we love Peter because he's so impulsive, compulsive. Everything he does, he does with passion, he does with his whole heart. Even the times when he fails and he makes mistakes, it's just a big splash because that's who Peter is. He's a big personality.

He's a spokesman for the group, just a leader's leader, and he takes charge. But Peter, how many mistakes did he make? In the boat when the storm is on Galilee, and then he sees Jesus walking across the water, and he says, Jesus, if that's you, bid me to come. And Jesus said, it's me, come on. And Peter climbed out of the boat, and he walked on the water, at least for a little while. And Peter was somebody on the Mount of Transfiguration. He wanted to stay up there and build three tabernacles. This is great.

We just want to stay on the mountaintop. And Peter was somebody who, when Jesus told him he would deny him, and Peter said, Lord, I'll never deny you. And Jesus said, three times tonight you'll deny me before the cock crows. And Peter did, and the third time he denied him, cursing as he did so. And in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was supposed to be praying with Jesus, and he went to sleep, woke up, saw Jesus being arrested. He took out his sword, aimed for the nearest head, took off the ear of Malchus, almost caused a war in the garden. And Jesus said, Peter, put up your sword.

I intend to be arrested. I intend to go to the cross. And after the crucifixion, remember when Mary Magdalene came to the upstairs room, and she said, the tomb is empty. And John and Peter looked at each other.

They ran through those empty streets of Jerusalem. They came to the garden tomb, and John outran Peter, so he got there first. Peter got there second, but he shoved John aside, and he ran inside the tomb, and he can't make sense of it. And we don't know what happened, but sometime that afternoon, Jesus revealed himself to Peter because the disciples on the road to Emmaus said, he's appeared to us and to Peter. Peter was someone who was selected by Jesus to be one of the three disciples closest to him, is Peter, James, and John. And then after the resurrection, Jesus said, go wait for me in Galilee.

And so Peter goes up to Galilee, and he waits, and he waits, and he's just not somebody who can wait, you know. He's just got to be active, get doing, so he goes back fishing, and he takes some of the disciples back. They went back to the way they were before they met Jesus, and followed Jesus, and Jesus came to the shore. And when Peter realized he was on the shore, there he is in the fishing boat. Jesus has caught him red-handed going back to fishing, and he throws on his cloak. He dives in the water, and he didn't wait for the boat to come to shore.

He swam to shore. It's like he was running back to Jesus. Oh, he wanted to be a disciple. And after Jesus went back to heaven, Peter was the one that preached at Pentecost, and 3,000 people were saved, and he and John healed the lame man at the beautiful gate. And then one of the things that Peter is most noted for, of course, is that he took the gospel to the Gentiles. He went to Cornelius's house, a Gentile, and he led Cornelius and his whole family to faith in Jesus. For the first time, a Gentile could come to faith in Jesus without becoming a Jew first. So in other words, before Peter, you and I, if we wanted to put our faith in Jesus, and be a disciple of Jesus, and be born again into God's family, we'd have to keep a kosher kitchen.

We'd have to keep the rituals, and the traditions, and all of that. And Peter was the one that opened the door for the gospel to go to the Gentiles, so that you and I can come to Jesus and be a disciple of his just through faith alone. Interesting, he wrote two letters that are in the New Testament, but one of the most interesting things about Peter is that he was married.

Wouldn't you love to meet his wife? You know, so all the things that she put up with, but she must have been very gracious and hospitable, because we believe that Jesus stayed in their home when he was in Capernaum, which was quite a bit. So Peter is an interesting character. I would describe him as being impetuous, and bold, but wholehearted, passionate, and he was just Jesus's kind of man. He just loved Peter, and Peter was one that launched the church, and opened the door for the gospel to go to the Gentiles.

A leader, even with all of his failures, he shows us by his life, doesn't he, that failure doesn't have to be final. So maybe somebody here has failed, and failed in a big way, but Peter shows us that you can get back up, and still serve the Lord, and be a disciple. The next one is Thaddeus, and he's also called Judas, but not Iscariot. Okay, his name is Thaddeus.

The only thing we know about him possibly is at the Last Supper he asked Jesus, but Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us, and not to the world? And Jesus didn't answer his why question, but he did say if you want to see him, if you want Jesus to show himself to you, then you must be obedient, but otherwise we don't know anything about Thaddeus, and I would say he was quiet, and he was more of a listener than a talker, and so I sort of, you wouldn't believe it, but I identify with Thaddeus, because I'm more of a listener than I'm a talker, unless I'm here. So Thomas was the next one. We think of him as doubting Thomas, and when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and they were implying Jesus please come and make him well. Jesus stayed where he was four more days, and finally the fourth day he said well Lazarus has died. Now we're going to go to Bethany, and Thomas said oh no Lord don't go to Bethany.

That's near Jerusalem. They'll kill you if you go back there, and Jesus said well I'm going, and then Thomas said well if you're going then I'm going, and we'll just go and die with you, and so the thing I love about Thomas, he was willing to go and die with Jesus. You know he didn't quite understand what Jesus was doing, but he was willing to pay the ultimate price, and then after the resurrection the disciples were all gathered in that upstairs room an Easter Sunday afternoon, except Thomas was not there, and Jesus revealed himself to his disciples, and then he disappeared, and when Thomas came back they said Thomas we've seen the Lord, and he said you know I'm not going to believe you, and I want to see the evidence for myself, not unless I can put my fingers in his nail prints, and thrust my hand into his side, I'm not going to believe that he's risen from the dead, and so we think of Thomas as a doubting Thomas, but to me he just wanted an encounter with Jesus for himself. He didn't want to go on second-hand information, so the next Sunday afternoon he's there in the upstairs room with the other disciples, and Jesus all of a sudden appears in their midst, and he says Thomas here I am, put your fingers in my nail prints, and put your hand into my side, and believe that I've risen from the dead, and then he said you believe because you've seen me, but bless are those who have not seen me and yet believe, but when Thomas saw Jesus he confessed him as his Lord and his God, and actually I've been in India, I told you several times, and they traced their church in the southern part of India, the Martoma church, to Thomas, and they believe Thomas came to India and established the church. It's interesting, we think of Paul, don't we, and some of these others, but we don't think of the other disciples and where they went, where they took the gospel, but Thomas was somebody that wanted first-hand information, and when he got it, when he had his fresh encounter with the risen Lord, he gave him his whole heart. Nathaniel, sometimes called Bartholomew, of all the disciples called, Nathaniel hesitated, and he was sitting under a fig tree, and Philip came to him and said Nathaniel I found the Lord, I found the Messiah, and Nathaniel said how would you know the Messiah if you found him, and he said where did he come from, and Philip said he's come from Nazareth, and Nathaniel said nothing good comes from Nazareth, so he reveals that he had a prejudice, he had preconceived ideas, and of course he knew the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, so how could the Messiah come from Nazareth, but anyway, so he went to see Jesus because Philip, I love Philip's way of witnessing, he said just come and see, simple witness, just come and see for yourself, so Nathaniel went and Jesus saw him coming, and he said look here's a man in whom there is no guile, no deception, no hypocrisy, no pretense at all, and Nathaniel said how in the world would you know me, and Jesus said Nathaniel I saw you sitting under the fig tree when Philip came to get you, and just like that, Nathaniel dropped his preconceived ideas, and his prejudices, and he became a disciple of Jesus.

Somebody here have prejudices, preconceived ideas, ways you were taught, your tradition, whatever, and then you encounter Jesus for yourself, or you're willing to let it all go, and just embrace the one that you meet for yourself, so Nathaniel had some ingrained preconceived ideas, but once he was confronted, then he seemed to have an open heart, an open mind, became a disciple of Jesus. James, he's one I hadn't thought so much about, and I don't know why, because Peter, James, and John were the closest to Jesus of all the disciples, so Jesus invited Peter, James, and John to go up on the Mount of Transfiguration, he took them into Jairus's house. Do you remember he just took those three when he raised Jairus's daughter from the dead, and then he invited them to pray with him in Gethsemane, so James must have been an outstanding leader. Peter got all the attention maybe, and John was quiet and loving, but James had to have been a strong man's man, and he and his brother John had asked Jesus, said when you come into your kingdom, one of us wants to sit on your right hand, and one of us wants to sit on your left, and Jesus said are you able to pay the price for that, knowing that it would cost enormous suffering, and John and James just glibly said of course we can pay the price, yes we are able, you know. 17 years later, when Herod wanted to please the Jews, he looked for the disciple that was the strongest, boldest, the one that everybody followed, the one who had the most impact, and he selected James for execution, the first of the disciples to be martyred for his faith.

So to me, James is somebody who's strong, bold, not as brash as Peter, but somebody who was steadfast in his faith and gave the ultimate price for his identification with Jesus. Matthew, he was a tax collector, and as a tax collector, he was hated because he was collaborated with Rome, and so maybe like Zacchaeus, he had gained wealth through extortion, and he's the only one of the disciples who had a past, you know, the other disciples were sort of good guys, fishermen or whatever, but Matthew was a bad guy, he was a renegade, he was a traitor, and Jesus was walking through Capernaum one day, and he saw Matthew sitting at the table and taking taxes, and Jesus said Matthew, I want you to be a disciple, follow me, and Matthew got up and he left that lucrative business, and he became a follower of Jesus. So Matthew was one who, sort of like the Apostle Paul, I guess he had a conversion that went an about face, so a life of extortion and betrayal and treason, and suddenly he just reversed himself and became a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the first thing he did was to throw what we call a Matthew party, and he threw this big feast and he invited all of his friends who were also publicans and sinners, those who were outside the temple, they didn't ever go to have their sins forgiven or, you know, have the sacrifice on their behalf, they didn't go through the cleansing and the rituals, and they lived on the periphery, and so he invites them all to this feast because he wants them to meet Jesus, he knows if Jesus could change his life, then Jesus could change the lives of his friends, and Jesus was roundly criticized for having gone to that party, but Jesus said, they who are well have no need for a physician, only those who are sick.

I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. I think Matthew is somebody who had the heart of an evangelist, and I know he did because he wrote the gospel of Matthew, trying to reach his friends and reach the Jews with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so he was somebody who knew what it was to pass from darkness to light and death to life, and Jesus had changed his life, and he wanted other people to know what Jesus could do for them. Simon the Zealot, this is sort of funny, but he was a member of the revolutionary party, he hated tax collectors, so can you imagine the Last Supper with Simon and Matthew sitting side by side or even following Jesus down the road, and yet the common denominator was Jesus, and when Jesus called them to be disciples that made them brothers, and so Simon who was somebody who hated the Romans and wanted to overthrow them, became a fellow disciple with Matthew who had been collaborating with them. We don't know much about Simon either, but we think maybe in Acts 1 he's the one that asked the question, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?

So he still wanted to overthrow the Romans and hoping Jesus would now do it, and of course Jesus explained to him that his kingdom was not of this world, and so I think Simon let go his desire, his dream that he could affect change through the government or politics, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't do that, but he put all of his heart and his life and his passion into changing the hearts of people and bringing the kingdom of God as we talked about into the hearts of people. So he was working and giving his life for a greater kingdom. James the Lesser, I don't know why he was called James the Lesser. Maybe he was small in stature, or maybe he was just insignificant.

You know somebody that everybody else overlooked. He just didn't have anything to draw attention to himself, and so he was the Lesser, and I love the fact that Jesus called James the Lesser to be a disciple. If there's somebody here and you feel insignificant, you feel small, and compared to others maybe you would seem small, and the world would overlook you, and maybe you've been overlooked for a promotion, overlooked for an honor, overlooked for you know something, and but Jesus, oh isn't it something, his eyes would go to and for over the whole world, and he sees James the Lesser, and he says I want you to follow me. I want you to be a disciple.

It's very precious. God doesn't see anybody as insignificant. We have our significance in Christ. Philip, the day after Jesus called John and Andrew, he found Philip, and he said follow me, and Philip did, and then he found Nathaniel. He brought Nathaniel by just saying come and see, and then Philip, when the Greeks felt very comfortable in approaching Philip, and asked him to take them to see Jesus, he was somebody, he didn't feel comfortable for some reason taking the Greeks to Jesus, but he took the Greeks to Andrew, and knew that Andrew would take them to Jesus.

So it makes me think of somebody who's not really confident in sharing the gospel, but you know this friend needs Jesus, and so you take them to somebody who can share the gospel with them, or you bring them to church, you get them in a Bible study, or you're just sort of the bridge. That's who Philip was, but at the last supper Jesus declared he was the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me, and then Philip said Lord show us the Father, and that'll be enough for us, and Jesus said Philip have I been with you so long, and you don't understand that I and the Father are one.

If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I'm glad Philip asked that question, because that's such a clear statement for the deity of Jesus. After Pentecost when the church was launched, do you remember, and then persecution fell on the church in Jerusalem, and Philip is the one that went up to Samaria, and had that great revival in Samaria, and people coming to faith in Christ, and everything is just exploding, and then all of a sudden God picks him up, and just takes him down, and puts him down on the desert road for one man, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Philip trots alongside him in his chariot, and in the end he leads the Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Jesus, baptizes him there, and I love the fact that Philip wasn't caught up in crowds, and he didn't have to have a big crowd to think he was effective. He just wanted to be where God wanted him to be, and to speak to the people God put in his path, whether it's a crowd in Samaria, or whether it's one person on the desert road, and Philip also had four daughters. They all prophesied, so I know he was a supporter of women in ministry, so he's somebody who knew how to ask good questions. He made himself available. He was the bridge to bring people to Jesus, and then he brought people to Jesus in revival, as well as just one-on-one. Living in the Light is a weekly study in God's Word with teacher and author Anne Graham Lotz. Learn to listen to his voice, then start making the choice to keep on going and believing and trusting who God is. Go to annegramlotz.org. Take advantage of the many helpful free resources to get you started. Join us again for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-24 20:31:42 / 2023-12-24 20:42:26 / 11

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