Great is the faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All that I need Thy hand had provided
Great is faithfulness Lord l lay down
Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. Ps 139:1-5 (HCSB)
Last week we considered the aspect of confession in our prayer life, it signifies humility and this, in God’s sight, is of great price. A farmer went with his son into a wheat field, to see if it was ready for the harvest “See, father,” exclaimed the boy, “how straight these stems hold up their heads! They must be the best ones. Those that hang their heads down, I am sure cannot be good for much.” The farmer plucked a stalk of each kind and said: “See here, foolish child! This stalk that stood so straight is lightheaded, and almost good for nothing; while this that hung its head so modestly is full of the most beautiful grain.”
Today, we will be considering another important element of successful prayer which is Restitution. If I have at any time taken what does not belong to me, and am not willing to make restitution, my prayers will not go very far toward heaven. It is a singular thing, but I have never touched on this subject in my addresses, without hearing of immediate results. Most often than not in our prayer meetings, we often neglect to address it, as probably there would be no one present that would need to make restitution. But I think if the Spirit of God searches our hearts, we shall most of us find a good many things have to be done that we never thought of before.
After Zaccheus met with Christ, things looked altogether different. I venture to say that the idea of making restitution never entered into his mind before. He thought, probably, that morning that he was a perfectly honest man. But when the Lord came and spoke to him, he saw himself in an altogether different light. Notice how short his speech was. The only thing put on record that he said was this: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” A short speech; but how the words have come ringing down through the ages!
By making that remark he confessed his sin—that he had been dishonest. Besides that, he showed that he knew the requirements of the law of Moses. If a man had taken what did not belong to him, he was not only to return it, but to multiply it by four. I think that men in this dispensation ought to be fully as honest as men under the Law. I am getting so tired and sick of your mere sentimentalism that does not straighten out a man’s life. We may sing our hymns and psalms, and offer prayers, but they will be an abomination to God, unless we are willing to be thoroughly straightforward in our daily life. Nothing will give Christianity such a hold upon the world as to have God’s believing people begin to act in this way. Zaccheus had probably more influence in Jericho after he made restitution than any other man in it.
When you confess your sin and make restitution, now you have moved from outer court to the holy of holies to meet with Lord where he will show you great and mighty things which thy knoweth not. Come, let dig a little further:
“I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3
There are different translations of these words. One version renders it, “I will shew thee great and fortified things.” Another, “Great and reserved things.” Now, there are reserved and special things in Christian experience: all the developments of spiritual life are not alike easy of attainment.
There are the common frames and feelings of repentance, and faith, and joy, and hope, which are enjoyed by the entire family; but there is an upper realm of rapture, of communion, and conscious union with Christ, which is far from being the common dwelling-place of believers. We have not all the high privilege of John, to lean upon Jesus’ bosom; nor of Paul, to be caught up into the third heaven.
There are heights in experimental knowledge of the things of God which the eagle’s eye of acumen and philosophic thought hath never seen: God alone can bear us there; but the chariot in which He takes us up, and the fiery steeds with which that chariot is dragged, are prevailing prayers.
Prevailing prayer is victorious over the God of mercy, “By his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Beth-el, and there He spake with us.” Prevailing prayer takes the Christian to Carmel, and enables him to cover heaven with clouds of blessing, and earth with floods of mercy.
Prevailing prayer bears the Christian aloft to Pisgah, and shows him the inheritance reserved; it elevates us to Tabor and transfigures us, till in the likeness of his Lord, as He is, so are we also in this world.
If you would reach to something higher than ordinary grovelling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of importunate prayer. When you open the window on your side, it will not be bolted on the other.
How would you experience all these without first coming to God in humility by confessing and making restitution where necessary. For the people of the world are pointing at you daily and seeking for your downfall but the Lord will uphold His own read further:
“Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies.” Psalms 5:8
Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God.
If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. “Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to a man.” Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to His name. The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is “to the Jews a stumblingblock”: let us mind that we put no stumblingblocks where there are enough already. “To the Greeks it is foolishness”: let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel.
How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we reck of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies’ hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with scandals against His people.
My many prayers for you today among others is “O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up”!
Please bless someone today by sharing this message, encourage someone to visit the website so as to feed daily at Jesus feet. God bless you as you heed to this request. Draw another soul to the kingdom.
Remain blessed in the Lord.
Evang. Ifeoma Ohondu.