Prayer Message #3 “Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant” Ed Miller March 25, 2023, Denton , De. Campground Men’s Retreat

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I’m going to apply that indispensable principle which is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  There’s a verse in Psalm 17 that I’d like to share.  The whole Psalm is so wonderful; it presents our Lord as sovereign over everything.  It presents Him here as the God who makes ice, and it’s a picture of an ice-locked stream.  Through the winter the ice comes on the brook, or the stream and the water can’t flow.  Verse 18 Psalm 147, “He sends forth His word and mounts them.  He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.”  Isn’t that a wonderful verse!  I don’t know if any brother here is ice-locked, but He’ll send His word; the wind, the Spirit of God will blow, and the waters will flow.  That’s what He wants to do.

I want to read one verse and we’ll sort of end of here tonight, but I want to begin with it.  Hebrews 9:24, “Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  We’re going to be discussing what that means, “for us.”  Let’s bow and give our time to the Lord.

Thank You, Lord, once again for this high privilege to hear from You.  I ask you to protect Your children from anything that comes from me that’s just flesh and blood and academic and cold and just theology.  We pray that we might hear from You and that You would touch any brother who might be parched.  You promised You would, and anybody that might be ice-locked.  We pray that You’d send forth Your Spirit, and cause Your wind to blow and the waters to flow.  We ask for liberty tonight and freedom and we want to see Jesus.  So, thank You for living in our hearts and desiring so much to put the light on Him.  We just pray, Lord, that we might see Jesus.  We pray in that matchless name of Christ.  Amen.

Welcome again to our little series, I guess on prayer, but not really; it’s about our Lord Jesus.  Let me review very quickly the two lessons we’ve had.  Each lesson contains some simple truth.  All truth is simple.  Simple truth is connected to this great subject of prayer.  In our introduction lesson we focused, and we’ll continue to focus, on Romans 8:26, “In the same way the Spirit helps our weakness.  We do not know how to pray as we should.  The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  I called attention earlier to Romans 7:18, “I know nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.”  I’m just a bundle of needs and so are you, and nothing good dwells in me, and nothing good dwells in you.  That’s why we need to be set aside and why we need to reckon ourselves dead, because there’s nothing here, nothing at all.

We looked at how bankrupt we were as needy sinners, and now we’re needy Christians.  God desires, He who has no needs desires to pour His life and fulness into we who are all needs.  Psalm 40:17, “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks on me.”  KJV, I like that better than the NAS.  So, He who has no needs, and the One without needs wants to give us His life and meets our needs.  Zachariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication.”  God has given that gift of prayer and grace and supplication.  If you got nothing else from our introduction lesson, I just pray that you saw the infinite distance between the God who has no needs and we who are all needs and His great provision to span that gulf.

This morning in our second lesson we looked at the Lord’s Prayer as an illustration, and then we looked at the so-called conditions to answered prayer.  In the Lord’s Prayer we saw the one absolutely indispensable necessity, and that is relationship.  The infinite God connects with us, the needy, and it’s always through relationship.  I hope that the Lord might have set someone free by learning there is not ten, twelve, fifteen or twenty conditions to answered prayer.  He just wants your heart, brothers.  He just wants you and He just wants me.  As He has us, we have fulfilled every condition to pray.

So, now where do we go from here?  As I said, prayer is one of God’s great provisions for the needy to reach out to Him and touch Him, and its relationship with the Lord.  In our introduction this morning I suggested a little outline we were going to be following, and I called attention to the difference between the picture and the reality.  The picture was the Lord’s Prayer, and the principle was relationship.  I told you this evening we’d be looking at another picture, and that picture is the priesthood of Christ.  That picture also contains a principle, so we’re going to be looking at the priesthood of Christ, and then, Lord willing, tomorrow as a clincher we’ll look at the final picture, Jesus praying in Gethsemane, because the One who prayed in Gethsemane lives in your heart to do the same thing again.  We’ll be looking at that tomorrow.

When we say the name “Jesus”, and we connect it with the word “prayer”, say that in the same sentence, Jesus and prayer, automatically you have to turn to His priesthood because Jesus the priest intercedes; that’s prayer.  Hebrew 7:23, “The former priests on the one hand existed in greater numbers.  They were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Therefore, He’s able to say that forever to those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  His priesthood and His prayer are tied together, and we’re never going to appreciate His intercession by prayer unless we understand a little bit of His priesthood.

Our first look in the Bible of Jesus as priest is not after He died and rose again and went to heaven.  Many think that’s where His priesthood began, after His ascension.  The fact is, He was a priest on the cross, and we have to begin there.  He was both priest and sacrifice; He was the Lamb, and He was the One that offered Himself.  He offered the Lamb.  He was both.  It’s important to see Him that way because that’s what is going to lead to His intercession.  I know that usually when we think about the cross, and I’m not toning it down, we think about His passive suffering, we think about Jesus as the Lamb, we think about Him as the victim, as the One who paid the price for our sin.  We’ll never neglect that part.  In fact, there could be no atonement without Christ as the Lamb.  But there also could be no atonement without Christ as the priest.  In order to set this up I want to sort of take a few steps with you seeing Christ, the priest, on the cross.  Again, He is the Lamb, He is the sacrifice, He was the victim, but that was His passive ministry.  Everything was against Him; earth was against Him, hell was against Him, and even His Holy Father God forsook Him.  Everything was against Him; He was the Lamb on the cross, but He was also a priest.  That’s actually the glory of the cross, Christ as priest.  His passive suffering was for you and me, but His priesthood was for His Holy Father God.  We need to look at the cross in terms of His ministry.

Hebrews 5:1, “Every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin.”  You say that Jesus wasn’t a priest after the order of Aaron.  No, He wasn’t, but He fulfilled everything that the Aaronic priesthood predicted; it pictured Him.  There are three qualifications in that Hebrews 5:1 for a priest.  He had to be taken from among men, and that would be true of our Lord Jesus, and He had to be appointed on behalf of men; it had to be for you.  That would be true of our Lord Jesus.  But here’s the third thing; in things pertaining to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin, there was a manward aspect, but there’s al a Godward aspect.  On the cross He wasn’t just dying; He was serving, He was offering, He was ministering, He was doing something. 

I love in that connection the Mount of Transfiguration; remember when Moses and Elijah appeared with Him on that mountain?  The Bible says that they were talking, and it tells us what they were talking about.  Luke 9:30&31, “Behold, two men were talking with Him; they were Moses and Elijah who appearing in glory were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”  He’s accomplishing it; He has a ministry, and He’s doing something on the cross, the death He would accomplish.  That was Godward.  Ephesians 5:2, “Just as Christ loved you and gave Himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma…”  He gave Himself on the cross; He was doing that, He was giving Himself.  The end of Galatians 2:20, “…faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  He was doing something.  John 10:11, “I’m the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” 

We could multiply many verses.  One of the most powerful in my thinking is John 10:17&18, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I laid down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me.  I lay it down on My own initiative.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This commandment I received from My Father.”  Nobody could take His life; He gave it and He died on purpose.  He was ministering and He was a priest; He was giving Himself.  Revelation 1:5, “To Him who loves us and released us from our sin by His blood…”  Brothers, the reason I’m stressing this activity of Christ on the cross, the ministry of Christ, is because you cannot separate the atonement from intercession.  I’m trying to get to the place where He’s in you and He’s going to pray and intercede for us, but that started on the cross.  Without His accomplishment on the cross, He could not intercede and He could not come into your heart and prayer.  We can’t appreciate His intercession unless we focus on His active ministry on the cross.  He gave Himself for the church; He poured out His soul unto death, and He purged us from our sin in His own body on the cross, and He was active and was working and He was busy, and He was doing something, and He was accomplishing death and He was obedient unto death.  When He died, He didn’t die just like some man whose life is ebbing away and getting weaker and weaker.  He died with a shout; it was victory, “It is finished,” paid in full.  There was more activity taking place when Jesus died on the cross than in Genesis when He created the universe.  He was busy on the cross and He was active and working, and that’s very important.

In the picture, when our Lord Jesus died, you remember the veil was rent in two from top to bottom?  Matthew 27:50, “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His Spirit, and behold the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”  That was the picture when that veil was rent.  What took place in the reality?  Hebrews 9:24, that I quoted at the beginning, “Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the truth, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  In that moment after He fulfilled the Aaronic priesthood, He became priest after another order, after the order of Melchizedek.  That’s a study all its own, and it’s thrilling, but we’re not going to go there. 

I told you that you can’t say “Jesus” and “prayer” without saying “priest”.  Now, I’m going to do the same thing again.  You can’t think of Jesus as priest without saying the word “covenant”.  Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason He’s the mediator of the New Covenant.”  For what reason?  It’s His activity on the cross.  Because of what He did on the cross, He was now given a new office, mediator of the New Covenant, “so that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called,” this is so important, brothers, this last sentence, and we’ll return to it, “may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.  For this reason, His activity on the cross, His victory, for this reason, because He died as a victorious priest, He became mediator of the New Covenant.  Why? He became mediator of the New Covenant in verse 15 so those who have been called, and that’s you, and that’s me, and that’s us, may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 

By His grace I want to try to unpack that.  Pray for me; may God speak!  What is that all about, His ministry as mediator of the New Covenant, His active ministry dying as a priest in order to be mediator of the New Covenant?  This is the chief point, and it’s what we’ve been moving toward this weekend.  Hebrew 13:20 it’s called “the everlasting covenant.”  “Now, the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, tying the covenant and His death together, Jesus, our Lord, equipped you in every good thing…,” and so on.  It’s an eternal covenant, and it’s eternal on both ends.  It’s not only eternal that it will last forever; it’s eternal in that it never began.  It always was, and it’s always been on His heart.  It’s the desire that God had in eternity past, a desire that includes us, the pleasure of the Lord from the unbeginning beginning.

 It was His plan and His desire, the desire of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in unity, made in eternity, to have a creation made in His image, to create a people into whom He could pour His life and express His love, to pour into a people Himself in such a way that they would express that and put it on display in all the created universe.  That was the plan. The Son of God, our Lord Jesus, in that covenant He was the principle heir of that covenant.  In that covenant we were also included as co-heirs.  In that covenant it was declared in Deuteronomy 32:9, “The Lord’s portion is His people.”  That’s His inheritance.  You are His inheritance.  Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, that you will know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” not your inheritance in Him, but His inheritance in you. 

One of my favorite passages is Proverbs 8 where wisdom is speaking, and you know wisdom is just Jesus, and He’s speaking, and Proverbs 8:22-31 He is giving this description before creation.  He says before there were any debts, before there was any water, before there was any mountain, before there was any hill, before there was any dust of the earth, before there was anything, verse 30, “I was beside Him as a Master workman; I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His world, His earth, having My delight in the Sons of men.”  There were no sons of men; that was before creation, long before creation, but it was in the covenant.  It was in the heart and mind and purpose of the Lord.  It was all in that wonderful, wonderful covenant.

I don’t need to remind you, but I will, about the terrible fall.  We fell into sin, and our father Abraham, and that eternal covenant where we’re His portion and we’re His people and He delights in us and He wants to put Himself in us and He wants that image to be manifested to the world — and then we fell.  Now He has to come and redeem, because His people are His portion, and He has to redeem us.

When Jesus came to earth as a baby, I wonder if you know this, He spoke as a baby.  I don’t think Mary heard it and I don’t think Joseph heard it and I don’t think the Shepherds heard it and I don’t think the Wise Men heard it, but He spoke, and His words are recorded in the Bible.  In fact, I wrote to the publisher of the red letter addition of the Bible and I said, “Put that in red letters.”  That wasn’t in red letters.  Hebrews 10:5, “Therefore, when He comes into the world he says….”  He’s coming into the world, what did He say?  How awesome and how it fits!  “’Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me.  Whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin, You have taken no pleasure.’  Then I said, ‘Behold, I’ve come in the scroll of the book and it’s written of Me to do Your will, oh God.’” 

Jesus, prayer, priest, covenant; look at Hebrews 9:16&17.  The Holy Spirit develops that picture of the everlasting covenant.  “Where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it, for a covenant is valid only when men are dead.  It’s never enforced while the one who made it lives.”  The Bible presents our Lord Jesus as the Testator of an covenant, that has to die.  In other words, this is the last will and testament, and He is using that illustration.  I think you are familiar with a will. 

I wasn’t in Delaware one week and I went to a lawyer to make a will.  The reason I did that, I didn’t have a lot to declare, but at the time I thought I was ready to die.  My health wasn’t all that great, and I had some problems and I thought I was going to die.  I told my Lillian, “We’ve got to go right away.”  I went in the first week that I was here, we went to make a will.  I was wrong; I’m still here, but that’s what I thought.  Anyway, I sort of inflated my possessions to the lawyer.  He said, “We can work on this, and we can do this, so what do you want to include in your will?”  I told him about a diamond mine in Africa.   If I’m going to leave my kids something, I want them to have a lot.  I told him about an island in the Pacific.  I wanted to leave that island, and all my grandchildren were going to get a million dollars each.  He said, “You can’t put in a will what you don’t have,” and I knew that, but I had to pull his leg. 

Hebrews 9:17, A covenant is valid only when men are dead.  It’s never valid when the one who made it is alive.  The one who makes the will is called a testator, and Jesus became the Testator.  The will is not enforced until there is a death.  I was appointed as the executor of my Lillian’s father’s will, and it was quite smooth.  He was good and prepared everything.  Everything was spelled out in the will, who is going to get this and who is going to get that; stocks and bonds are going to this particular person, and this amount of cash is going to another, and this insurance policy is going to be split up, and he had the people named, and this automobile is going to so and so.  It was all in the will, but none of us could collect anything until he died.  He had to die to make the will valid. 

In the picture, our Lord Jesus is the testator who has to die.  The Holy Spirit goes beyond what we know as the will because my father-in-law had to die before anybody could inherit what he offered, but he didn’t have to bleed.  In fact, he didn’t bleed when he died.  The Holy Spirit not only calls attention to the death of our Lord Jesus, but He puts a great stress, as we were singing and praising the Lord, on the blood.  Hebrews 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleansing your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God.  For this reason, He’s the Mediator of the New Covenant.”  His death made the will valid, and His blood guaranteed that those who were beneficiaries would actually receive what’s in the will.  It’s the guarantee; it’s the covenant.

I told you that Jesus in that eternal covenant was the primary heir, and now we’re also in that covenant, and we are co-heirs with the Lord Jesus.  Everything that’s in that will belongs to us.  His death made it valid, and His blood is the guarantee of whatever is in that New Covenant.  He lives to pray that you inherit; He lives to pray that I inherit.  Every time we break bread we tie it into the covenant, don’t we?  Matthew 26:28, “When He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; this is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins.’” 

Someone can name you in their will.  It’s not going to do you any good if you don’t know it.  If you are in someone’s will and you don’t know it, that won’t help.  Or if you knew it and you didn’t claim it, it’s not going to do you any good.  Brothers, there’s a will and your names are in it.  It’s a covenant.  He died to make it valid, and some of us are just going to live on water and crackers instead of the fatted calf.  Many Christians don’t know what’s in the will.  Who made the covenant?  The answer is God.  Who made the will?  The answer is God.  Listen up, brothers, it’s the will of God.  Sometimes when we say that we want God’s will, we don’t know what we’re talking about.  We’re talking about the Everlasting Covenant, and He lives in your heart to pray for the will of God, for everything that’s in that covenant to become yours and mine.  He doesn’t want you to miss a thing.  Everything that’s in that will, that’s what He’s praying for as He lives in your heart.  Romans 8:26&27, especially the end, “He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  It’s not just that we want God’s will, and arbitrarily God makes a decision, “I want this and I want that.”  No, no, no; this has all been decided in eternity past.  It’s all in a will, and He comes to live in my heart and your heart because He wants you to inherit what has been written in the will of God.  That’s what He is interceding for, the will of God.

When we think about the New Covenant and where God speaks of it in the Bible, in the Old Testament there are two main places.  It’s scattered all over, but in Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, those are the New Covenant passages.  In the New Testament it’s Hebrews 8 and Hebrews 10.  What we know is this, that we’re involved in this will, this will of God, made valid by His death and guaranteed by the shedding of His blood.  Usually, when we say New Covenant, we’re limited to Hebrews 10, for example, verses 16&17, “’This is the Covenant I’ll make with them after those days,’ said the Lord. ‘I’ll put My law in their heart, on their mind I’ll write them.  Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’”  Many Christians put a period there; that’s the New Covenant.  Praise God for that!

One day I was in my office and there was a phone call, and it was lawyer, and the lawyer called me up and said, “A dear sister died and mentioned you in the will, and we want you to come to our office on a certain day, certain time, and there’s going to be a reading of the will.”  Me and my Lillian were wondering what in the world did we inherit?  So, I went at the appointed hour to the lawyer’s office, and as I remember, my memory is failing, but I think there were eighteen to twenty people there, mostly family.  As they began to read the will, very early he mentioned my name.  My ears perked up, “How rich am I?”  I inherited a thousand dollars, and since I was read early in the will and everybody else is sitting and waiting to hear their name and what they got, I got up and left the room because I’m done.  I got my thousand bucks, so I left the room.  Brothers, I think a lot of Christians left the room before they heard what was in the will and how many times their name was mentioned in the will.  They left the room. 

If you ask a new Christian, “When you got saved, what did you really receive?”  They’ll give you a list of maybe five, seven or ten things, and say, “I know this, I got forgiveness.  I didn’t have forgiveness before.  I’m free now.  My sins have been washed away.  I also became part of God’s family.  Now I’ve got new brothers and new sisters, and I’m in God’s family, and Jesus came into my heart.  I have the Lord now.  I didn’t have that before.  I understand that I have a reservation in heaven.  When I die, I’m going to go to heaven.  While I’m mentioning that, another thing happened; I’m not going to hell.  I’m not going to be condemned.  I know that’s true and that’s for me.  And I guess I’ve got a new commission, a Great Commission, to share with others who are in the will and have no clue that they’re in the will.”  What else; anything else?  You mentioned seven or eight things.  They got so excited when they heard about those eight or ten things, brothers, they ran out of the room.  They didn’t know that will had their name all over it, and if they could have stayed in there, they would have learned their inheritance.

My wife sometimes says, and I hear it a lot, “Honey, will you do me a favor?”  I always answer the same way, “Up to half my kingdom.  That’s what I’ll do.”  Listen to this verse, Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom — not half the kingdom, but the whole kingdom belongs to you.  Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places,” every spiritual blessing.  Have you cashed in on every one of those, because He’s praying that you will, that I will?  Romans 8:32, “He did not spare His own Son and deliver Him over for us all, how will He not with Him freely give us all things?”  That’s in the will, the last will and testament, made valid by His death, made certain by the shedding of His blood.  2 Peter 1:3&4, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord, seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence, for by these He has granted to us precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world by lust.” 

What I’m trying to say, and I hope God makes it clear, when you got saved there’s not five, ten, fifteen or twenty things that you received.  Praise God for every one of them and go out and shout it and tell everybody about it.  It’s wonderful, but I’m telling you there are hundreds of things, there are thousands of things, there are millions of things, there are unnumbered blessings.  Come on back in the room and let them read the whole will, and see what you have in Jesus, see what I have in Christ.  We need to come back in the room and hear him read the entire will.  Because He died, it says, “Because of this, He has become the Mediator of the will, of the New Covenant, of the will of God.”  If you really want the will of God, you’ve got to let Jesus pray.

Let me give a couple of illustrations that will put us a little closer to the prayer theme.  The first is from one of the passages in the Old Testament that is a New Covenant passage.  Ezekiel 36; I’m not going to read it all.  I’m just going to dip into these unconditional promises, just list a few.  “I’ll sprinkle them with clean water, I’ll cleanse them from their filthiness, I’ll give them a new heart, I will put a new Spirit within them, I will remove the heart of stone, I will put My Spirit in them, I will cause them to walk in My statutes, I will be their God, they will be My people, I will make them fruitful, I will give them victory over the enemy, I will cause them to inherit the land, I will make their life like a Garden of Eden.”  That’s all in Ezekiel 36.  Do you know how the chapter ends?  Ezekiel 36:37, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘This, also, I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them.’”  He gives all those blessings, and then He says, “I’m going to let them ask Me, because if they don’t ask Me, they aren’t going to get it.  It’s all theirs and they can have it, but they’ve got to ask.  All these things I will let them ask Me to do for them.”  That’s where prayer comes in; you’ve got to pray, and you’ve got to ask.  James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask. 

Let me give a second illustration.  How did you get saved?  I’m going to tell you how you got saved, and I think your heart will agree with what I’m going to say.  Let me start with Colossians 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him.”  What that means is that the way you got saved is the same way you continue.  That’s why I want to tell you how you got saved, so you know how to continue.  I’ll state it for you.  It all begins this way, and it has got to begin this way; you are a needy guy and I’m a needy person, and it all began when God opened your eyes and you saw your need.  By the Holy Spirit you saw your need.  It’s got to begin there.  You were lost, you were undone, you were blind, you were under condemnation.  If you had died, you would go to hell.  That’s where you were.  God showed you your need.  You were in a mess.  Then He showed you something else.  He showed His provision in Christ Jesus, how the Lord was your substitute and took your sin and invites to let you invite Him into your life, and with understanding because God opened your eyes.  You saw your need, and because God opened your eyes, you saw your provision in Jesus.  Then what?

Romans 10:13, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  It’s not enough to see your need.  It’s not enough to see His provision.  You’ve got to pray and call on the Lord.  Just like they had to apply the blood in the deliverance from Egypt, you have to put the blood on the door.  He invited you to ask, and that’s how you got saved.  He showed you your need, He revealed His provision, and then He said, “I’m going to let you ask me now to satisfy that need.”  So walk in Him!  What is He going to do for you today?  This is going to explain a lot that’s going on in your life.  He did so much for you on the cross, and His heart is beating hot that you know everything He died to give you.  So, He’s going to take your life and He’s going to lead you to a need.  You’ve got to see your need, and then He’s going to show you His provision, and then He’s going to say, “Are you going to ask Me?  You’ve seen your need and seen my provision, and all you have to do is ask Me, and I’ll do it.”

I told you earlier that you’re only going to trust the Lord when you have to, and I’m only going to trust the Lord when I must, but I always must, but I don’t always know that I must.  So, He leads me to one need and then to another.  I’m blind to what He did for me on the cross.  I know so little.  I’m blind to what I need, and so He guides me to my need, and shows me my need, shows me His provision, and invites me to pray. 

Let me illustrate it several ways, so you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I love my study.  I speak as fool, if God denied me heaven and said, “You can choose one experience on earth forever,” I’d be in my study.  Oh, me and Jesus have had some sweet times in that study!  While I’m studying, when I come to a problem passage, that’s a need, and I don’t understand that passage, and then I’ll do the stupid stuff, and I’ll run to all these men and ask and call people.  Then God puts my head on straight and shows me His provision; the Holy Spirit will take the word of God, the written word, and show me the Living Word, but I’ve got to ask.  I’ve got to apply that indispensable principle.  It’s not me praying.  He took me to the need.  It’s His burden; He wants me to know.  He shows me His provision, and says, “Can I use your lips?  Just ask Me, and I’ll grant that wish.”  He shows His provision, I come out and say, “I need light.”  I don’t hear His voice but I’ll tell you what He’s saying, “Father, Ed’s praying for light.  He doesn’t deserve any light, but I died that He might have light.” 

See, I never knew that Jesus shed His blood, so I could understand the Bible, but that’s one of the reasons.  It’s in the will.  He’s praying the will of God be done, and that’s part of the plan.  So, He guides me.  Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so we may find mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  He shows us our need.  I’m in a situation and I need patience. I wouldn’t have known it if He didn’t give me my step-Dad, for example.  All of a sudden, I need patience.  He says, “Yeah, and I provided that, if you’ll ask.”  So, I pray, and I say, “Lord, I need patience.”  Jesus says, “You don’t deserve patience, but I died that you might have it.  It’s in the will.

Another day He leads me, and I need strength.  He shows me His provision.  He says, “All you need to do is ask.”  “Yes, Lord, please, I need strength.”  He says, “You don’t deserve strength, but it’s in the will.  I died that you might have that, so I’m going to pray that, and I want to pray through your mouth and lips.”  May God help us see this, brothers!  That explains our life as He takes us; I need guidance and I need provision and I need strength and I need wisdom and I need love and I need a forgiving spirit and I need God to work in my heart and I need to grow — all of those needs!  He’s guided you to that. 

Some of the needs are pretty rough.  I really need to understand, Lord, why You’ve allowed this on my loved one, this sickness.  “Not only do I want you to see what was included on Calvary, but I want you to know that it’s redemptive.  I’m not only going to provide that, what you don’t deserve, because it’s in the covenant, but I’m going to use it because others are going to be looking at you as you receive grace and you receive patience, and it’s going to minister to them.”  Everything is redemptive.  Nothing comes into your life that is not redemptive.  He guides you to your needs, and He engineers your needs.  He’s the One that brings you to your needs.  He doesn’t want to see you squirm and suffer and say, “Oh, there’s another need, there’s another need…”   No, no, no; He died that you could have that.  He wants you to have everything that’s in the will, unnumbered things.  So, He said, “I’ll pray, if you’ll let me use your lips.” 

Hebrews 9:8, “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place had not yet been disclosed.”  We’re talking about the Holy of Holies, and the way in had not yet been revealed.”  Hebrews 4:14, “We have a high priest, a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.  Let us hold fast our confession.”  And as we saw in Hebrews 9:24, “Into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  Then we read Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.”  Where is the throne of grace?  It’s in the Holy of Holies; it’s in the very presence of God.  When it says “confidence”, that word in the original means with boldness of speech, unembarrassed freedom of speech.  Can you imagine in the Old Testament if some high priest, Aaron, is in the Holy of Holies, and turned and said, “It’s really something to be in here.  Hey, come on here…”  You know what would have happened.  You can’t get in there, because the way in had not yet been revealed, but now it is revealed.  I’ll tell you, brothers, when I die I’m going into the presence of God, but I’m not waiting until I die.  When I pray, I’m going into the presence of God, with boldness, and unembarrassed of speech, He’s invited us into the presence of the Lord, so that we can see all that He included on the cross, made valid by His death, a guarantee by the shedding of His blood.

How does this relate to Him doing the praying?  “Intercedes for the saints,” Romans 8:27, “according to the will of God.”  In every other thing we’ve been instructed.  For example, if you give a brother or a sister a gift, you don’t have any problem saying, “This is from the Lord.  It’s not me; it’s the Lord giving you that gift.”  If you share some truth, you say, “That’s not from me; the Lord has allowed me to share that truth.”  If you visit the sick or the orphan or the prisoner, you say, “God sent me here.  It’s not me.  He’s using my feet, He’s using my hand, He’s using my heart, and when I drink, He’s using my head, so that I know how to walk and how to have guidance, and so on.  It’s the Lord.  My hands, my feet, my heart, my emotions, my mind, but when it comes to prayer, all of a sudden we think, “I’ve got to pray.”  It’s the same thing.  If it’s Him using your hand and Him using your feet, why can’t He pray through your lips, why can’t He pray through my lips?  If you pray in the spirit and according to the Covenant and in the will of God, as I said, the answer is always yes.  May God help us to see these things!

Romans 6:13, “Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instrument of righteousness to God.”  Let Him use your lips.  Pray when a need is presented to you and you say, “I have such a burden for whatever,” it’s not your burden first.  It was His burden first.  It’s His burden, and not yours.  It’s His, and that’s why He led you there.  He says, “This has been my burden, and I want you to share my burden, so that we together can see all that I accomplished on Calvary’s tree when I died as the priest, and if you will just let Me use your lips…”

I think everybody is familiar with prayer sometime pictured as incense.  Psalm 141:2, “May my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.”  Revelation 5:8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.”  So, we read that, and we say that incense are the prayers of the saints, until we come to Revelations 8:3&4, “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden sensor, and much incense was given to Him, so that He might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints went up before God.”  You see, prayer is not incense.  Something else is incense that goes up with the prayers.  The smoke of the incense went up with the prayer. 

Let me make this suggestion, 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him.”  Christ is the incense, and He wants to rise with your prayer, and envelop your prayer and my prayer.  Ephesian 5:2, “Walk in love, as Christ loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering, a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  The fragrance is Christ; it’s His work, it’s His merit.  And He swallows up your prayer with His merit.

I’m going to close with this illustration.  I grew up under the care of my grandmother.  Some of you have heard this already.  I grew up under the care of my grandmother.  My mom and dad were divorced when I was three years old.  My mom had to work full time, so she didn’t have a lot to do with our bringing up.  Her mother, my grandmother, a little German tough lady, I lived in fear of her all the time.  I didn’t think she liked me.  She told me just before she died that she was mean to me because she didn’t want me to grow up and be like my father.  She wouldn’t even call me Ed; she called me Butch, because she basically hated my father for what he did to my mother.  Anyway, she was a strict German grandmother and she could really wield the peach limb.  I remember how she would strip that thing.

I could tell other stories about it, but I remember when I was about six or seven years old, and I was always trying to please her, and I wanted to make her happy.  So, I went out to get her a bouquet of flowers.  I know I had dandelions in that bouquet, and we had violets right around the house.  We lived in a sort of a hunting cabin.  That’s where I grew up, in a little hunting cabin — two rooms and no running water, and all that kind of stuff.  Anyway, I went down behind us to a l little swamp, and I got a couple of Jack in the Pulpits, and there was one thing that grew on a bush, and it was so beautiful.  It was purple with buds or berries or whatever, and I cut it down and brought it in.  As far as I remember in my childhood, the only hug that I ever received, I received that day from my grandmother.  She smiled and hugged me.  I’ll never forget it because it was so powerful in my life.

I couldn’t wait until my mother got home from work — she came on a city bus —so she could see the beautiful bouquet.  I went into the dining room.  She had the bouquet right on the dining room table.  She killed it; she ruined my bouquet.  My heart was broken.  She took out the best part.  She took out those beautiful blue berries, and I felt so bad.  I went into the kitchen, and she had thrown it in the trash.  I was broken.  Sometime later I found out that she removed the poison sumac from the bouquet.  She didn’t destroy it; she sweetened it.

May I suggest, brothers, when you pray, your prayer doesn’t deserve to go up to heaven, but at the same time your prayers are rising, the incense, the merits of Christ, our Lord Jesus, is sweetening your prayer and taking out of it what’s not acceptable, and by the time it reaches holy heaven, it’s acceptable and a sweet fragrance to the Lord.  You pray together — you pray/He prays.  He purifies and God accepts your prayer.  The principle of the Lord’s Prayer was relationship.  The principle of the high priest is revelation.  He reveals your need.  He reveals His provision.  He invites you to come and to call upon Him.  If you don’t, you’re not going to know what’s in the will.  What He’s doing in your heart, the reason He’s praying, is that He did so much for you on Calvary’s cross, and He wants you to know everything, not just ten things or twenty things.  He wants you to know all that belongs to you.  So, the high priest now lives in our heart to intercede according to the last will and testament, the will of God.  Let’s pray.

Father, thank You for Your word.  As always, we qualify and say, not what we think it might mean, but everything You’ve inspired it to mean.  Will You work that in our hearts?  Lord, I pray that every man in this room will come back into the room and allow You to finish reading the will, so we can know how much we have in union with Christ as co-heirs of that wonderful covenant.  Work these things in our hearts.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.