“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.”
God desires that we stay near to Him without being forced. He promises to teach, counsel, and guide us; He promises to watch over us and instruct us. As our part, He asks that we be willing. He asks that we be inclined to Him. He asks that we not be like stubborn beasts that have to be pushed and pulled, but rather like trusting sheep who follow their Shepherd unreservedly.
We all were once like sheep who had gone astray. We all can relate to the words the hymn writer sang, “Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” But when we first came to God in faith, He gave us a new heart. Ezekiel tells us He transplanted our heart of stone with one of flesh. We have a new nature and the Holy Spirit residing within us. We reciprocate God’s desire for fellowship with us. We have a soft heart toward Him and a willingness to be lead.
- James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
Since we have a new heart, let us pursue an enthusiasm for walking near to the Lord. God wants to foster within us a heart that is submissive to Him without compulsion. He wants us to cheerfully, willingly love, follow,, and live for Him.
In light of all He’s done for us, this should be easy; we just need to be reminded from time to time.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
- Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”
- Romans 14:7-9 “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
We are not our own. We have been purchased with Christ’s blood. He died for us so that we might live with Him. He wants us near to Him, following Him, listening to Him, obeying Him with a willing heart. Furthermore, the very God who desires these things of us has given us the means. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” Paul said in Galatians chapter 2. Christ lives in us, His Holy Spirit lives in us, to give us not only the desire, but the ability to do that which is pleasing to Him.
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
They ought always to pray
Though Jesus was speaking specifically to the disciples, all of us can take the exhortation of this parable as if spoken directly to us: we ought always to pray.
- Colossians 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
- Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
- Ephesians 6:16-19 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel….”
- Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ‘Pray without ceasing….”
And not lose heart
Constant prayer is difficult to maintain. It’s exhausting. But we ought not to loose heart in our asking. We ought not to be discouraged. We should always be confident that the God who spent His blood to purchase our right to approach Him will always listen and always act. We don’t know how He will choose to answer us, but we should never doubt that He hears, and never doubt that He will show perfect love in His response.
- Hebrews 4:14-16 “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
- Hebrews 10:19-23 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
- Ephesians 3:12 “In [Christ Jesus] we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”
When it comes to praying we should not lose heart but gain confidence. We approach a God who, though we went astray, reconciled us to Himself through the offering of Jesus Christ. He took the initiative to gain fellowship with us. Let us take advantage of our audience with Him: the Creator of the World. Hear the heart of Jesus’ plea for us to pray: “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily;” Luke 18:7-8. When He returns, will He find a people who believe Him and act accordingly?
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
How often would I have gathered your children together
Jesus fervently desires to be near to man. How vividly He discloses His desire to draw men near to Himself! It has been His desire from eternity. He said, “I have always wanted to gather you up under my wings! I want you to be near to Me! I want to take care of you.”
You would not
In the Psalms, David reciprocated the desire to be near to God. “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings;” Psalms 36:7. Though David wanted to be near to God, man as a whole rejects Jesus, not wanting to be near to Him.
Just as vividly as Jesus’ heart for man is illustrated in this verse, so too man’s heart for Him is revealed. “You would not.” That is, “I wanted you, but you did not want me.”
- Romans 10:21 “But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
- John 1:11-13 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Jesus has sought ought and secured our reconciliation to Him.
God so loved the world–He so desired to gather us together under His wings–that He gave His only Son to make it possible. We spurned Him, we rejected Him, but He sought to make us accepted. If we repent from our rejection of Him and receive Him, we will become His children and be forever in fellowship with Him. Then, like David, we can say with confidence: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
- 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”
Take refuge today in the shadow of Christ’s outstretched arms. He has invited you to commune with Him and paid the ultimate price to make it possible.