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Surviving the Fainting Spells of Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 21, 2024 12:00 am

Surviving the Fainting Spells of Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 21, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  What are your expectations when you pray? Do you expect God to answer in a certain way, or on a certain timeline? The truth is: our prayers are only effective when we conform to God's will, not when we insist upon our own. Jesus taught His disciples this truth using a parable of a poor widow and a corrupt judge.


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Well, this scene in the Middle East would have included shouting, one author says, pushing, arguing as people attempted to have their case heard. It wasn't like you're going to come at two o'clock in the afternoon and the judge is going to hear your case.

Now you showed up, tried to yell louder than anybody else to get his attention. And that's important to understand because into that raucous scene comes the last person in the world that has a chance of being heard. What are your expectations when you pray? Do you expect God to answer in a certain way or on a certain timeline? The truth is, our prayers are only effective when we conform to God's will, not when we insist upon our own. Jesus taught his disciples this truth using a parable of a poor widow and a corrupt judge.

We're looking at that account today. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is your Bible teacher and he's the president of Wisdom International.

He's been working his way through this passage from the Gospel of Luke and he continues that series next. Why should we pray? Why do we?

Let me read ten reasons why. They were written a hundred years ago by the former president of Moody Bible Institute, Ruben Torrey. He wrote this list for himself but others copied it and passed it along. Ten reasons why I should pray. One, because there is a devil and prayer is the way to resist him. Two, because prayer is God's way for me to obtain forgiveness for daily sin. Three, because the apostles as my pattern considered prayer their most important business in life. Four, because prayer was an important part of the earthly ministry of the Lord. Five, because prayer is an important part of the heavenly ministry of the Lord as he intercedes for us. Six, because prayer is the means of gaining strength. Seven, because prayer is the means of experiencing the fullness of joy. Eight, because prayer with thanksgiving replaces anxiety with peace that passes all understanding. Nine, because prayer is used by God to develop and deepen me.

Ten, because prayer empowers me to serve others and be a blessing to the body of Christ. And that's really just for starters, isn't it? All of that is true.

All of that's true. If you were to ask Jesus that question, why should we pray, he would give an answer that hasn't quite been mentioned yet, at least not in this way. And I'll paraphrase his answer. Pray so that you can survive the fainting spells of life. It's exactly what he says to his disciples here in Luke's gospel account. If you're new to us at the Shepherd's Church, you've now arrived at chapter 18 and verse 1. So turn there, Luke chapter 18.

This is our 90th study, so we're speeding through this great gospel. Then you could translate it. It follows the context of what he's just said. Then he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. In other words, if we don't pray, we lose heart. Your translation might read, you might faint.

Pray that you faint not. See, Jesus happens to be a realist. He knows his disciples are going to face discouragement and disheartening times and want to quit or to have what Charles Spurgeon would teach his students at the Pastors College. They would have this fainting spell in the midst of serving the Lord. Those are the times when you have no emotional energy, no spiritual warmth, no desire for prayer. As one author put it, that little thought of pointlessness slithers into your mind and the next thing you know, your motivation to pray has sprung a leak.

It all kind of fizzles out. You discover as a believer that the narrow way, the race, seems to be littered with obstacles that arise out of nowhere unexpectedly. Pain, disappointment, loss, grief, unanswered questions, doubt, fatigue, conflict, heartache. The Apostle Paul wrote along these lines to the Galatian Christians about growing weary in well-doing. Paul wrote, frankly, transparently about his emotions. To the Corinthians, he writes about feeling afflicted in every way that relates to feeling pressured.

Squeezed is the word. He writes that he was perplexed. That word means to be at a loss to explain things. There were times when you could come to Paul and ask him, you know, when he thinks about something and he would say, I really don't have an answer.

I'm perplexed about that. In verse 9 of that same paragraph, he says that he was struck down but not destroyed. The word for struck down comes from the wrestling world for being thrown to the mat. Knocked down. Paul would say he wasn't knocked out.

William Berkeley puts it, Paul was often at his wits end but never at his hopes end. What keeps him going through the fainting spells of life is prayer. Now the context of this command from the Lord to pray in order not to faint is the previous announcement that we studied last time where they're told that the kingdom is postponed. Effectively, they're not going to be alive to see it. They'll see it when they come back with him. Jesus said in chapter 17 that he has to suffer first. That was unexpected.

They still don't get it. The Son of Man will suffer first. There's a cross before a crown. That's the second coming. So keep in mind that this encouragement to pray is based on the fact that Jesus knows the expectations of the disciples are not going to be met.

And isn't that what causes us to faint more than anything? Our expectations are not met. For them, the kingdom, he says, is going to be postponed. They'll have a race to run. It will include mistreatment, injustice, persecution, unanswered questions.

For all but one or two of them, martyrdom. Times along the way when they're going to want to throw in the towel and faint and ask the questions, is God listening to me? Questions disciples ask to this day. Does he see the injustice? Does he know my heartache?

Does he care? Jesus answers those questions by telling a story. We call it a parable. It's a down-to-earth story with heavenly meaning. With that, let's go to verse 2. Here's the story. He said, in a certain city, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. Now, stop for a moment. Jesus is setting the stage in order to understand the impact.

We've got to get into the scene. He's just given the resume of a judge you hope you will never have to stand before in court. He neither fears God nor respects man. That means he doesn't like people and he's not afraid of God. That's a bad judge to stand before. He doesn't care about you and he doesn't care about God. He's an atheist and an egotist all rolled up into one scary judge.

If you had to stand before him, your only hope would be that he'd be in a good mood because he's not interested in you and he isn't interested in doing right and he's fairly convinced there's no God and if God's up there, he's not watching. Now, if we go back in time the way this is described for us, we know this is not a Jewish judge. This would have been a city judge appointed by Herod the king or some Roman official, the city magistrate. We know if we go back to the first century that they were typically corrupt. Paying them a bribe to go easy on you or to let you go was all part of the system. In fact, you might remember if you're older in the faith going through the book of Acts that Governor Felix was appointed judicial authority and he keeps the apostle Paul in prison even though he knows Paul is innocent.

We're told why in Acts 24 verse 26. He says he was hoping that Paul would give him money in order to release him. Give me a bribe.

Slip something under the table and I'll let you go. That's just the way it worked. So what Jesus has just done in setting this up is describe a judge who is crooked. Well, this scene in the Middle East would have included shouting, yelling. One author says pushing, arguing as people attempted to have their case heard. It wasn't like you're going to come at two o'clock in the afternoon and the judge is going to hear your case.

No, you showed up and tried to yell louder than anybody else to get his attention. And that's important to understand because into that raucous scene comes the last person in the world that has a chance of being heard. Now verse three. There was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, give me justice against my adversary. By the way, Jesus leaves out the specific injustice that she's experienced. What we do know is that she has a zero chance of being heard.

Understand that the odds are stacked against her in this first century world because she's a woman. She had no legal standing in these days, certainly before a Roman judge. Women were not allowed to testify in court in these days, much less show up and demand an audience with the judge. As a widow, she had no husband to go with her, to speak for her, to be the one to yell out enough to get the judge's attention. She would more than likely have been on the poorer scale of economy, no resources to hire legal help. She wasn't even tempted to bribe the judge. There's no reference to her attempting to pay him off. The only thing she has is a voice and let me tell you, a rather unrelenting tenacity.

I love the way she's described here. Look at verse four. For a while, we don't know how long that was, he, that is the judge, refused, that is to hear her case, but afterward he said to himself, though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice. Let me tell you, this judge has met his match. Well, finally he's had enough. He says in verse four again, though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice. Can you imagine he's saying, you know, I'm really not like this, but I'm going to have to do the right thing.

It's as if he's afraid he's going to ruin his reputation by doing something compassionate. So even though I don't care about her and I don't care about God, I've got to get rid of her. Why? I will give her, verse five, the latter part, give her justice so that she will not beat me down. That phrase translated beating me down is a boxing term for giving someone a black eye. He says effectively she's got me on the ropes. I dodge left, wham. I dodge right, wham. There she is.

What am I going to do? Well, I'll do something right. I'll give her justice. Now with that, the part rather quickly concludes the parable, but he gives his disciples a pop quiz. There are three questions.

You could circle the question marks. The first question here in verse seven, and will not God give justice to his elect who cry to him day and night? You could paraphrase this question by asking, is God going to right every wrong? You want justice? You're not getting it.

You want fair treatment in the world and you're being mistreated. Is God going to do something about it? See, one of the primary reasons we have fainting spells in our Christian experience is because God doesn't do what we expected. We expect God to put a little force field around us because he loves us and bad stuff just bounces off.

I mean, some stuff might get in, but it's not going to hurt that bad. Whereas elect has chosen our children are going to be the best behaved. We're the ones with good lab results. We're the ones who are promoted.

We're the ones vindicated in court. We have God to ourselves. He's like our own personal vending machine.

You put in the right amount of money. You push the right buttons and out pops the blessing. If the blessing doesn't come, maybe he needs a little more money or reminder. Maybe he didn't push the right buttons, but eventually it's yours guaranteed.

That doesn't seem to be happening. Will God right every wrong? The answer is yes, but not according to our plan. Here's the second question. Verse seven again. Will not God give justice to his elect who cry to him day and night? Here's the second question. Will he delay long over them? I'll paraphrase this question as well. He's putting into words what we think, especially during fainting spells. How long is God going to wait to do something?

Besides, I'm asking for something good and holy and righteous and pleasing. Why would he withhold that? What's the delay all about?

How long is this going to take? Oswald Chambers writing on this text said, some prayers are followed by the silence of God because they're wrong. Sometimes because the answer is bigger than we can understand. Maybe you found that to be true. Sometimes the answer is no, not ever. Sometimes the answer is no, not that.

Sometimes the answer is no, there's something better. Most of the time, I don't know about you, but it seems to me God says no, not now. Wait. So then what does Jesus mean here in the next phrase? If you've been reading ahead, it sounds like we shouldn't have to wait long at all. Verse seven, the latter part, will he delay long over them? I tell you, Jesus is giving us the answer.

Here it is. I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Well, I like that verse. Anything with the word speed in it, I like. I mean, speedily doesn't seem to make any sense. The word speedily describes the manner of judgment, not the timing of judgment. In other words, think back to the preceding context that we studied where the judgment of God came in the form of a global flood after 120 years of warning, 120 years. But then the flood came and it came speedily.

It's the idea. It seemed like it would never arrive, but suddenly it did. Today the injustice of the world seems to be without penalty or judgment, no respect of man, no respect for God. But if you think of a few thousand years of human history as a prelude to eternity, then this life seems like just a matter of moments. That's what Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthian believers, for this momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 2 Corinthians 4.17. Now here's the third question in verse 8. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?

That is, will he find this kind of faith, praying, trusting faith on earth? Now remember the specific context, specifically given to the believers living during the days of the tribulation, the Antichrist is attempting to kill every person who's come to faith in Christ, especially the Jewish people that God is restoring and will restore to the land. 144,000 Jewish men have already come to faith in Christ and are now evangelists circling the globe. It's an amazing time when so many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people come to faith in Christ.

These will be, though, terribly difficult times for those who have come to faith in Christ after the rapture of the church. The kingdom is about to come. Jesus says, when it comes, the believers are you going to be praying and trusting and waiting. As I've taught you to pray, as he's taught us to pray, thy kingdom come.

Think about that. Lord, we're praying for your kingdom to come. When you reign upon this earth, when you make every wrong right, when there is justice, when your glory covers the earth like the waters of the sea, thy kingdom come. You know, we've been praying that for 2,000 years now. So it never occurred to you that Jesus taught us to pray a prayer request that hasn't been answered for 2,000 years and he knew it when he taught it?

How long have you been praying for yours? Now, we need to clear up something here, lest we think that this crooked judge represents God and the widow represents believers. Far from it. This is where a lot of misinterpretation comes in and confusion. This is not a parable of comparison. This is a parable of contrast. And there are many here.

Let me give you several. The judge is unjust. God is just. The judge eventually acts contrary to his character. God always acts consistent with his character. The judge shows compassion reluctantly.

God has great compassion for us. The woman was a stranger to the judge. We are the children of the judge.

We're in his family. The widow was insignificant to the judge. We are eternally significant as God's chosen people. This woman had no friend in court to help her get on the docket. We have an advocate who pleads our case continually.

She could never approach the judge's bench. We can boldly access the presence of God. She has no promise that the judge will care for her. We have the promise that our Lord always cares for us.

One more. The widow's only hope was a court of law. Our hope is in God's throne of grace. All that to say, you're not a widow who has to somehow wear God down and corner him in order for him to hear you or to care about you or to listen to your case.

He actually designed your case. Every detail and every matter. The only comparison that I could find here is the idea of simply being persistent in praying, not to get the Lord's attention, but because we already have it and that relationship matters to us. I believe the greatest statement of faith a believer can make is in these two persistent activities. First, trusting in God when wrong seems to win. Trusting God and everything wrong seems to be winning. Secondly, talking to God when his absence seems obvious.

You know, we sang about that. When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest in his unchanging grace. Easy to sing a great statement of faith to live. Perhaps for you today, you're making a great statement of faith without realizing it just by showing up today. You're here in spite of the adversity or the sorrow or the challenge or the unanswered question.

You're here. You're singing, maybe through tears, but you're singing. It's a great statement of faith.

When you do that, you don't faint or lose heart. The answers will come one day. Only then will we recognize that this affliction was momentary and so brief, and his justice did come speedily. Our commitment is to bring you biblically faithful teaching to help you walk wisely through life. Our desire is to help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means, and apply it to your life. I hope you're finding that to be true as you listen along each day. If so, we'd love to hear about it. Give us a call today at 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-21 00:27:52 / 2024-03-21 00:36:10 / 8

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