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Sermon – 7/15/01
I Will Answer – Isaiah 65:24


I Will Answer

"Before they call, I will answer, and while they are speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24)

During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." President Lincoln did in fact receive all that he needed for the day that was at hand, though in the process, the nation he so dearly loved was nearly destroyed.

We have seen, as he did, that God does answer prayer. Isaiah 65:24 speaks of the "Millennium" which is to come upon this earth, a time of peace, because of the presence of the Lord. Yet, "before they call, I will answer, and while they are speaking, I will hear" can be real for you, right here and now. In the midst of the "storm" we call life, there can be the wonder of answered prayer, and the presence of the Lord.

And there is love. In a place which was about an hour south of Cancun, roughly two weeks ago, we met with a salesman, a Sephardic Jew, who interestingly enough, believes in Christ. He was surprised that I work in a part-time job to support this ministry, and was even more surprised when I told him about the many other pastors who do the same. He said, "I always thought you (ministers) were like ticks." We laughed at what he said but shook our heads at his observation, all at the same time.

His point has some validity, because some of those who should give, are the very ones who take the most. And yet, there is love. Our prayer should be that you and I, the church, will express God’s love. Nothing phony, not for money, but instead, the love of God, expressed through you and me. And He (the Lord) WILL answer that prayer.

I can promise you that it will happen, because it’s in the Book. You know the place: John 17, the last public prayer of Jesus before His crucifixion (many call this the "true Lord’s prayer") – and note that 100% of His prayers are answered.. That which we often call "the Lord’s prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13) was actually a gift, a model that will teach us to pray. John 17, on the other hand, was His actual PRAYER – for you.

Jesus could have prayed that you and I would have correct and proper understanding of doctrines. He could have asked (and it would have been answered) that we would be master theologians. But He did not. He did ask that we be kept "from the evil one" (John 17:15), which is good, for we fall so easily into sin. But the center of His prayer, the one that sets our course, was that we "may be one, even as We (the Father and Son) are One" (John 17:11). Jesus, our Lord, has prayed for us that we will love one another.

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, in a comment on Hosea 2:14-15 ("I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and I will give her vineyards"), said "We never know where God hides His pools. We see a rock, and we cannot guess it is the home of the spring. We see a flinty place, and we cannot tell it is the hiding place of a fountain. God leads me into the hard places, and then I find I have gone into the dwelling place of eternal springs" (from Streams in the Desert). God led her through the death of her husband into an abundant life of service to Him.

Who would have guessed that the water Israel needed, would come out of a rock? The captivity (a return to the "wilderness" of life), would become like a "vineyard" for them, in which they would be rescued from unbelief. I spoke with a woman who longs to be at home with her children. She feels that God has promised that she will be with them, and yet, the more she wants it (them), the more hours she seems to work – AWAY from the home (and her children).

Does God hear the prayer of this woman? Yes, He does. Will He answer her prayer? Yes, He will, and He already is, though not in the way she expected, and certainly not in the "time-frame" she anticipated. But the answer she receives (is receiving) is infinitely better than the one she wanted.

God is preparing you for eternity. He is building up faith within you. We would be "Christmas and Easter" Christians, if we could. We would be "Sunday" or "Saturday" people, who make a show on one day, and then live for ourselves on the others. But He will not allow that. He wants the HEART of this woman. He wants the HEART of each of her children. He wants YOUR heart. He HAS her heart, but He wants more – He will enlarge her faith, beyond her every expectation. He will make her and these children into something – WONDERFUL.

In the early 1970’s, when the Lord was using His Word to draw me back to faith in Him, I longed to serve Him and went to a four-year Bible college, as I thought He directed. And though I would be privileged to teach a number of small Bible studies down through the years, it would not be the ministry to which I thought I was called. The answer to my prayer would be almost 30-years away, to a time when I felt it was too late to do what I had been convinced was His will.

When He says to Israel, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25), He also speaks to this lady, to me, and – He is speaking to you. He has a life of wonders and joy, especially for you. You can be in the midst of heartache and know the joy of the Lord. He is preparing you now. He is readying your heart for the coming of the Lord, into your life, in ways you have not thought about. Does He hear you? Yes, He does. Will He answer you? Yes, He will, and He already is.

The "insufficiency" of President Lincoln, allowed the strength of God to work in him and through him. Our weakness will be God’s opportunity. A delayed answer to prayer may be the best answer of all, and always remember that God loves you. He is doing the BEST for you, right now, and at all times. Such understanding will eventually be the basis of your joy. It is not that you succeed in this life – it is that you will trust in Him, who raises the dead and performs the "impossible" – in your life and in mine.

Thank you, Father. We can go on a little more, because You have given us Your love. We receive that love, bountifully given in the Son of God, and we are safe in Him. We praise Your Holy Name, Lord. Let us love one another, as our Lord has prayed. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries (The First Church on the Net)