Study Guide – January 13, 2019
Pastor Clay Olsen
We’re starting our study with an ending…an ending to our prayers. And yet, an ‘Amen’ at the end of our prayers is really not an ending, but an agreement…an agreement to continue on in what we just prayed about. But actually, the affirmation of ‘Amen’ is even a whole lot more than an agreement to go on in what we prayed about. It’s really about making a commitment to the Person of God, and to the plan of God, and to the purposes of God. The word ‘Amen’ is a power packed word with a multitude of meanings and implications. And by examining just a few of them it can deepen our fellowship with our great God and move us to a deeper understanding of our great God’s work in and through our lives.
Of course the classic understanding of the use of ‘Amen’, especially in concluding a prayer is; ‘let it be so’, or ‘so be it’, or ‘may it be done’. But in the Hebrew the word was often used in the verb form more than one hundred times in the Old Testament, with meanings such as; to take care, to be faithful, reliable or established, or to believe someone or something. It was like they were committing themselves to what was just pronounced to them by God or prayed to God by them.
And remarkably enough, in John 3:3 when Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” NASU… the actual Greek translation of what Jesus was saying was this: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” So Jesus used the word ‘Amen’ to also mean ‘truly’ or ‘truth’. In fact, Jesus said “Amen, I say to you…” dozens of times in the New Testament.1 So the word has this additional sense of finality and authority and the sense of sheer ‘truth’.
So as we end our prayers and say ‘Amen’ we can understand this to mean that we are standing with truth, or taking a stand for truth, or making a commitment to truth. So saying “Amen” is like saying to God and others, “I pledge myself to ‘truth’”! Which is really like saying, “I pledge myself to the One who is the Truth – Jesus, my Lord and my God”!
But we also mentioned that the word ‘Amen’ itself also comes with many implications when we say it to our Lord. The Jerusalem Prayer Team International uncovered some of those Biblical implications of what ‘Amen’ means by giving a concept that each letter stand for in the word ‘Amen’. And we can go deeper in our walk with God by using these Biblical implications as well. It’s in the form of an acrostic.
The ‘A’ in ‘Amen’ implies that we ‘Agree with God’. This is to be the alpha and the omega of our attitude in everything we pray about or do in our relationship with God. We are in full agreement with God and God’s will, and therefore we are committing to live in submission to God and to His will. We basically are taking the attitude of Jesus: ‘Not my will, but Thy will be done.’
It’s like the Apostle John revealed in1 John 5:14- “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” NASU The unsaid thing that John may have been thinking, but did not write is: “And why would you have any confidence to ask for something that is not according to God’s will anyway? Really? Seriously?” But John didn’t say that…he wouldn’t say… “Really? Seriously?” We might say something like that, but John wouldn’t.
But seriously though…Often, in children, they call the tendency to continually do the opposite of what they are supposed to do an ‘Op-positional Disorder’. And certainly some children have an extreme bent this way, but in relation to mankind’s general sin nature, we all have something of an ‘Op-positional Disorder’, since we tend to want to have life go our own way. Essentially we are all bent with this malady of: ‘May my will be done!’ It is so easy to mix up ‘My’ with ‘Thy’ when it comes to the issue of whose will you’re going to go with or act upon. And it seems we need to settle this pretty much on a daily basis. It’s very important to default to God’s will as opposed to our will.
It’s kind of a strange things that goes on in our brain that we so often just assume or we tend to assume that what we are thinking or choosing or praying is God’s will, or at least that He will probably back us up on it. And it’s not that our intentions are necessarily wrong, it’s just that we’re not working with the right instructions. Jesus’ disciples are quite the examples of this habit. When some parents brought their children to Jesus for prayer the Disciples assumed this would be bothersome and started to turn them away. But Jesus said ‘No, don’t do that.’ And then they found out that what He wanted was for them to bring the children to Him instead. I guess they didn’t ask Jesus first.
And when the crowds came to hear Jesus’ teachings the Disciples assumed that since it was so late that the people needed to go home to eat and such. But Jesus said ‘No, they don’t need to go away.’ And then He told His Disciples that they were going to give them something to eat.’ And they did, since we find out that Jesus wanted to perform a miracle to demonstrate that He was the Creator as well as Messiah. So, again, they just didn’t ask Him first what He wanted to do.
And when they learned that others were using Jesus’ name to cast out demons they assumed that they should stop them because they were not of their group. “Master, we saw someone forcing demons out of a person by using the power and authority of your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.” Jesus said to him, “Don’t stop him! Whoever isn’t against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50-God’s Word Version Here we see that even the Disciples were an example of how people tend to be a bit ‘clique-ish’ or ‘clann-ish’, or a bit judgmental toward others who aren’t one of their group. We’ve all got to be careful with that, right? But, once again, it appears that they just didn’t ask Jesus first what He wanted to do about that situation.
The point is; don’t assume that your idea or wants or wishes are necessarily God’s will. Even if you mean well, we each need to ask Jesus first, examine the Scriptures first, and find out what He wants to do about everything we plan to do or intend to do. Or, we just need to find out what God wants and then totally agree with Him and then trust and obey Him in doing it. Amen?
Now the ‘M’. The ‘M’ is for ‘Move with God’. One of our American anomalies is that we tend to think and act very independently. And yes, a spirit of independence is a good and noble thing, that is, in relation to being personally responsible and personally motivated and personally sacrificial and helpful and such. But we tend to push independence past these virtues of independence and it soon morphs into being not just independent, but disconnected, or irresponsible, or uncommitted. As such, that then affects how we relate to both God and others. We start thinking and living like we are vines, when we are branches. We start thinking and living like we are Potters, when we are jars of clay. We start thinking and living like we are Shepherds, when we are sheep. Or how about this one? We start thinking like we are the Hand, when we are the glove.
To ‘move with God’ requires letting God lead you…letting God be in charge of your life; in charge of your will; in charge of your wants; in charge of what you do and why you do it.
Which leads to the ‘E’ – ‘Engage with God’. This is like ‘Move with God’, but this takes us deeper in this connection and in our action of being God’s branches and vessels and sheep and gloves. This takes us into finding out not only what God wants us to do about His will, but also what God wants us to know about Him personally; about what God is like and why God does what He does, and so on. I still marvel over one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever found out about what God really wants in our relationship with Him. You may know the passage, but we’ll never know enough about what God reveals about Himself in it.
Look at this: Jer 9:23-24- “Thus says the Lord , “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.” NASU
How simply remarkable that one of the things God wants most is to be understood by us. That’s not what usually comes to mind first when a believer starts wondering about what is God’s will for my life? We tend to think of God’s will as first involving what God wants us to do rather than to think that God’s will is foremost about what God wants us to understand and to know about Himself.
How amazing that the Creator of the Universe is also that personal, that He comes to us and calls us to come to Him, to come and better know and better understand Him. And the key thing that He want us to understand about Himself is that He delights in three key things: lovingkindess, justice, and righteousness. This trinity of attributes of lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness are to be the guiding filters for whatever you understand about God or know about God or think about God, as well as guiding your understanding of everything going on in this world, or in your world.
These are the three key attributes that God delights in. And therefore, and here is how that affects us,..You will only come to know and understand God when you learn to also delight in these three things as well.
Knowing God is actually the real goal of life itself. Even the measurement of your love and reverence for God will be in direct proportion to the measurement of your understanding and knowledge of God. A very central problem to why both the world and even many of God’s own children do not love and revere God like they should is because they do not understand or know God like they should…especially like God wants them to understand and know Him.
It’s by coming to understand and know God better that you come to conform more and more into His image; actually, into the image that God created you. And the more that you conform to God the better you will be able to confide in God, because you’ll understand God better. And the better you become at confiding in God the closer you will be able to abide with God, and be at peace as well.
But let’s conclude with our last letter. The ‘N’ is for ‘Never doubt God’. Now on the surface we would say, “Well, sure. I don’t doubt God. God is faithful, righteousness, and true. Everything that God says always come to pass, and will come to pass! I don’t have any doubts about God…my doubts are about me.”
Yes, our doubts tend to linger on ourselves, on things that we are discouraged about or disappointed about, or are just too difficult. But let’s ask a question that God Himself asked: “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Gen 18:14 NASU Or, let’s ask that another way: “Are you too difficult for the Lord? Are your problems too difficult for the Lord to help you with? Are your habits too difficult for the Lord to overcome? Are your desires too deep for the Lord to meet? Are your problems too difficult for the Lord to solve?
When it comes to the issue of doubts, the subtle problem is that we don’t think we are doubting God when we are doubting ourselves, but we really are. It comes back to ‘who’ we are trusting in. Think about it: Have you ever been disappointed in yourself? Well, you know what? To be disappointed in yourself is to have believed in yourself. We have our eyes and our belief on the wrong person. Our belief, our trust, our eyes are to be on Jesus, not ourselves.
Remember, it was to Abraham and Sarah that God asked that question after He told them that together they would have a son through which God’s covenant would be fulfilled. And Sarah laughed and basically said, “Look at us…we’re old. That’s not possible.” And God said, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” Or back to our point: “Are you too difficult for the Lord?” Sarah was looking at herself when God was calling her not to look at herself, but to look at Him. But by looking at herself her doubts about herself then seeped into doubting God’s promise to her and thereby became a doubt about God. Be careful here: Doubts are deceptive little buggers.
The problem is that we know ourselves too well and our God too little. What we need to do is to find out what God has promised, then put His promise over our problem or problems…then look away from ourselves and to our God…and turn from trusting in ourselves to trusting in God. We just need to be careful that we find out what God has promised and not build up expectations about things God has not promised. So also keep watch out for false expectations. But in what God has promised, by turning to God, trusting in God, and looking to God and not ourselves, we will then not let those nagging doubts about ourselves seep into and creep into what God has promised to do in and through our lives.
So when you say “Amen” to God, let that be your commitment to God that you are going to Agree with God, Move with God, Engage with God, and seek to Never doubt God. Amen!
1. Daniel Doriani, Amen, biblestudytools.com