Calling Upon God
March 15, 1998
Scripture: Gal. 3:26 - 4:7
Joh 7:37 ¶ On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Joh 14:25 ¶ "All this I have spoken while still with you.
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Joh 15:26 ¶ "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.
Joh 16:7¶ But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Question---Why did Jesus say the Holy Spirit would not come unless he left?
Answer---Sin must be dealt with before we can enter life in the Spirit. (We must have a relationship with God before we can call upon God. This was accomplished through the cross. By faith we become holy so that God may dwell inside us by his Spirit.)
Question---What happens once we enter life in the Spirit?
Answer---All the riches of God become ours.
Joh 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
12 ¶ I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Rom 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
26 ¶ In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Jas 4:8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Last week we talked about the personality of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. We looked at 2Cor. 13:14 that connects the quality of grace to Jesus, love to God, and fellowship to the Holy Spirit. Jesus left the H.S., his Spirit, as a Comforter or Counselor. We could say then that the H.S. is the love and grace of God in close proximity. With this in mind, and making further references to Jim Cymbala’s book, “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire,” we shall take a look at the importance of calling upon God, certain that he hears us, his children. Because of his Spirit, possessed by faith in Jesus, we are in him and he is in us.
Ge 4:25 ¶ Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him."
Ge 4:26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.
At the time Seth begat Enosh, men began to call on the name of the Lord. Adam and Eve had known God directly, but of course the whole human race fell into sin because they did what we probably would have done and disobeyed God. They mainly knew him as Creator. The proud and self reliant line of Cain was not about to call upon God. God’s servant, Abel, was snuffed out by Cain’s anger. But now God allows a replacement for Abel in the godly line of Seth. Seth had not known God directly, and now that he starts his own family, he feels compelled to call upon the God his parents knew, the God who also made him. This is the first collective relationship with the Almighty. Here, a godly strain of men and women in the line of Seth began to distinguish themselves from their neighbors by calling upon the Lord. Cain and his clan had distinguished themselves by independence from God. By contrast, these people affirmed their dependence on God by calling out to him. They were not known by any other name at this time except “those who call upon the name of the Lord.” Certainly there was trouble with the line of Cain and good reason to call upon the Lord for protection and to honor him in worship. It is the image of God in us to seek him in times of trouble. He will answer you. God now becomes known as more than the Creator. He is the God who cares. He is the God who responds to our needs. He is the God who intervenes in your situation.
I like what Isaiah 55 says about calling on God in contrast to the curse that sin brought upon mankind in Gen. 3:18.
To call upon God means to cry out, to implore aid. This the essence of true prayer that touches God. Charles Spurgeon once remarked that “the best style of prayer is that which cannot be called anything else but a cry.” This is what God invites us to do all through the Bible.
Jer 33:3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'
God is not aloof. He is not disconnected. His continual message is “ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.” When you don’t know where to turn, then turn to me. When you’re ready to throw up your hands - throw them up to me. When you come to the end of yourself, you come to the beginning of understanding who I am. After Moses came down from Mt. Sinnai, calling upon God became an earmark of every success his people encountered. This is highlighted most dramatically in Moses farewell address.
De 4:7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?
Other nations may have had horses and chariots but in the end it didn’t matter if the people would just call upon God. The other nations did not have what Israel had, a God who would respond when they called upon him. But whenever they stopped calling upon him, they were defeated and humiliated. These were times they listened to Satan’s strategy, “You don’t need to be so dependent upon God,” he says, “you’ll get along just fine by your own resources, cleverness, energy, wits.” But Satan is not frightened by our resources. It is when we lift up our hearts to God and call upon God’s resources that he knows his kingdom will be damaged. David makes a confident assertion in Ps. 43.
Ps 4:3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him.
This was David’s whole posture, instinct, and strategy in life. It was his approach to warfare. And the couple of times he even thought about not depending upon God was when God brought him up short with a major life lesson. It didn’t matter what the Philistines or anybody else had up their sleeves. God’s arm was longer. David thought, “If I just call out to God, he will give us the victory. But if we don’t, even a handful of weaklings could defeat us.” David learned a lot about God when he defeated Goliath. He learned even more when he was pursued by Saul. You can almost hear David saying, “You can chase me, you can persecute me or whatever you want - but when I call upon God, you’re in trouble! The Lord will hear me.” God defines wicked people in Ps. 14:4.
Ps 14:4 ¶ Will evildoers never learn-- those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD?
Wicked people refuse to call upon God. This is the definition of the ungodly. They will not humble themselves to recognize his omnipotence by calling on his name with all their hearts. You see, the main thing God wants is our attention. But the wicked do not want to draw God’s attention to themselves. They would rather perish in their wickedness. Salvation itself is impossible until a person humbly calls upon the name of the Lord. He has specifically promised to be rich in mercy to those who call on his name.
Ro 10:12 ¶ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
Ro 10:13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
God tells us to call upon him in times of trouble.
Ps 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
It is the evil condition of this fallen world that brings trouble. It is long term, deep, and persistent. Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble (Jn. 16:33). That is why he said to take it a day at a time (Mt. 6:34). Otherwise it would be too much for us. There is nothing we can do about trouble happening around us or to us. It will come. We will be faced with it. No one is immune. Every person will have their day. For some it is one thing, and for others it is something else. But you know something? Even though everyone faces trouble, God delivers the righteous. It is the righteous who call upon him in times of trouble. The ungodly will not obey God by calling on him in times of trouble. They cannot then expect the blessings of obedience by being delivered from trouble. God desires praise from our lives. But the only way fresh praise and honor will come is as we keep coming to him in times of need and difficulty. Then he will intervene to show himself strong on our behalf, and we will know that he has done it.
Are we not all prone to be a little cocky and think we can handle things just fine? But let some trouble come, and how quickly we sense our inadequacy. Trouble is one of God’s great servants because it reminds us how much we continually need the Lord. Otherwise we would forget about entreating him. For some reason known only to sin within us, we want to carry on by ourselves. May God revive us that we might seek him, and only him, to save us in our time of need.
Ps 80:18 Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.
Let me share with you a personal experience that Jim Cymbala tells about in his book. It is moving and victorious account of God’s answer to the calling of his people.
The Spirit gives gifts in accordance with the will and purpose of God. And we can ask for anything that is accordance with the will and purpose of God. The Spirit is able to empower miracles even greater than those done by Christ when he was on earth. But this is possible only if our sins are under his blood and if we are not grieving the Spirit by seeking any glory for ourselves, being in utter dependence upon God. It is his Spirit he gives us and his purpose is to glorify God the Father through the Son. And the Son intercedes on our behalf. There is nothing that is not available to us if we come right with God, stay right with God, and never intend to compete with God. God is in the business of bringing glory to himself and he asks us to be in the same business - in fact he enables it.
Therefore the Spirit of Jesus is able to accomplish absolutely anything we desire for glory of God. How far are we willing to trust him in bringing glory to himself through us? Are we willing to be spiritually set on fire? The early church was spiritually set on fire, wasn’t it? Look what was accomplished when the people were of one accord with each other and with God. The common bond was the Holy Spirit of Jesus through the message of the forgiveness of sins received by faith. The gifts that the Spirit determined to give were for the express purpose of bringing glory to God in the building of Christ’s Kingdom in the same way that Christ used those gifts.
Ac 2:17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Ac 2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Ac 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'