How should Christians have effective prayers? Four keys help you have effective prayers.
Reflection on a Picture: Is It Right to Look at Matters Only Externally?
In the picture, one rabbit thinks he has gotten a big carrot since its leaves appear large on the outside and thus is gleeful, while the other rabbit feels pain as he supposes his carrot very small, judging from its tiny leaves. As outsiders, we may find the two rabbits in the picture amusing, but then, a question arises in our minds: Is it right to look at matters only externally?
The Consequences of Looking at Matters Only Externally
As recorded in the Book of Job, when Job was tried, his three friends looked at things from the outside and according to their notions and imagination, thinking that Job must have offended Jehovah God since such calamities had befallen him. Just as Eliphaz the Temanite said, “Remember, Iyou, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?” (Job 4:7). Yet the reality is that Job’s trials resulted from a battle in the spiritual realm between God and Satan, not his offense against God. God searches people’s hearts and was fully convinced that Job was “a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil,” so He permitted Satan to tempt Job, and through this allowed Job to testify to his righteousness and his fear for God in front of Satan and the people of the world. With such big matters coming upon him, Job did not look at things from an external point of view. Rather, from his lifetime experiences, from the heavens and earth and all things created by God, he realized that God rules over, manages, and provides for all things, and that everything he possessed was bestowed by God, not earned through his own labor and efforts. Therefore, Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). When Job had borne witness, Jehovah God appeared to him and his three friends. It is written in Scripture, “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job” (Job 42:7-8). From these words of Jehovah God, we can see that Job’s three friends were loathed by God because they viewed things from the outside, considering Job’s suffering calamities as God’s punishment, and persistently judged and condemned him. By contrast, Job believed in and submitted to God’s sovereignty instead of looking at things externally, and hence received the blessing of Jehovah God. “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses” (Job 42:12). “After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations” (Job 42:16).
The Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament prophesies, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). The Jews long enslaved by the Romans relied on their notions and imagination to interpret these scriptures. They believed that the Messiah would definitely be born in the royal palace, looking majestic, imposing and extraordinary, and that He would come to lead them to break away from the rule of the Roman government and free them from the slavery. Nonetheless, when the Lordcame to do His work, He appeared ordinary on the outside, neither lofty nor erudite; not only did He come from a poor carpenter’s family, but He was born in a manger; not only did He not lead them to break away from the rule of the Roman government, but He was so persecuted that He even had nowhere to lay His head. Judging all of this from the outside, the Jewish people concluded that the could not possibly be the Messiah, and thus rejected His redemption and salvation. Furthermore, they passed judgment on God, opposed, condemned, blasphemed God, and finally nailed the incarnate God to the cross, committing a heinous, irreparable crime.
The two instances above show that if we rely on our notions and imagination to look at things only externally, we will be unable to gain an insight into the truth and thus make an error in judgment, with grave consequences. Obviously, it is wrong to look at matters only externally.
When the Lord Jesus carried out His work, some people rejected Him due to His ordinary appearance, whereas some others followed God’s steps in His new work. These people relied on the Lord Jesus’ work and words, rather than His outward appearance, to judge whether He was the Messiah. After investigation of His utterances and the facts and results of His work, they found out that the Lord Jesus had brought the work God was to do, expressed what God has and is, and brought the truth, the way, and the life to man. They focused on performing a substantial investigation of the Lord’s work instead of evaluating it on a superficial level. Therefore, they found God’s footprints and kept up with the steps of His work, and received His salvation.
The two different attitudes among the Jews toward the Lord Jesus’ work two thousand years ago require reflection of people in the last days. Now is the end of the last days when the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically all come true. It says in the, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). Shall we be like Peter, John, Nathanael, paying attention to studying God’s work and words, recognizing His voice, and following His footsteps? Or shall we be like the Jewish people, who focused on only the Lord Jesus’ outward appearance while neglecting His work and words, refused to accept His work, and was eliminated by His work in the new age? It must be said that this is a crucial choice for people in the last days!
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