Joseph: A Portrait of Jesus in the Old Testament

Joseph in the Old Testament is an illustration, an example, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, not by accident, but by Divine

Adrian Rogers
Adrian Rogers

Providence. Joseph as the beloved son of his father (Genesis 37:1-3) He has his father’s devotion Joseph is specially loved Genesis 37:3 Matthew 3:17 – Jesus is God’s beloved…

Link to Adrian Rogers’s Sermon as given in that great church in Memphis, Tennessee.  Dr. Rogers was one of the great pastor/teacher in his generation.  Click this link and watch and let this message speak to you. 

Joseph, A Portrait Of Jesus

Joseph in the Old Testament is an illustration, an example, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, not by accident, but by Divine Providence.

  1. Joseph as the beloved son of his father (Genesis 37:1-3)
    1. He has his father’s devotion
      1. Joseph is specially loved
        1. Genesis 37:3
        2. Matthew 3:17 – Jesus is God’s beloved Son
        3. Matthew 17:5 – Jesus is God’s beloved Son
      2. Joseph has a special name
        1. Joseph – abundance, one who adds to, a multiplier
        2. Jesus – Jehovah saves (John 10:10)
    2. He has a faultless distinction
      1. He is distinct from his brothers
        1. Genesis 37:2
      2. There is not one sin mentioned in the Bible about Joseph
        1. Hebrews 7:26
      3. He is a truth-teller
        1. John 7:7
      4. He has a special coat – a mark of distinction
        1. Genesis 37:3
        2. John 1:14
        3. Psalm 45:7
    3. He has a future dominion
      1. Joseph’s dream caused his brothers to hate him
        1. Genesis 37:5-9
      2. Jesus was hated
        1. Matthew 26:64
  2. Joseph as the suffering servant (Genesis 37:4-24)
    1. He is the sent one
      1. Sent to his brothers by Jacob
        1. Genesis 37:12-13
      2. God sent Jesus to us
        1. 1 John 4:10
    2. He is the scorned one
      1. Joseph was scorned by his brothers
        1. Genesis 37:4
        2. Genesis 37:8
      2. Jesus was scorned by his fellow man
        1. John 15:24
        2. Luke 19:14
    3. He is the suffering one
      1. Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers
        1. Conspiracy against Joseph (Genesis 37:18)
        2. Conspiracy against Jesus (Matthew 26:3-4)
        3. Abuse against Joseph (Genesis 37:23-24)
        4. Abuse against Jesus (Matthew 27:26-29)
        5. Betrayal against Joseph by Judah (Genesis 37:28)
        6. Betrayal against Jesus by Judas (Matthew 26:14-15)
    4. He is the slain one
      1. Joseph is figuratively slain by his brothers
        1. Genesis 37:31-34
        2. Genesis 42:21-22
      2. Jesus’ enemies also thought he was dead
  3. Joseph as the exalted sovereign (Genesis 41:38-57)
    1. Joseph, despised and rejected is brought up, out, and enthroned
      1. Every knee in Egypt had to bow the knee to Joseph
        1. Genesis 41:38-44
      2. Every knee worldwide will bow one day to Jesus
        1. 1 Peter 3:22
        2. Philippians 2:9-11
      3. Joseph is given a new name
        1. Zaphenath-Paneah which means “Savior of the World”
        2. Genesis 41:45
      4. Jesus is given a new name
        1. Revelation 19:12
      5. Joseph is given a Gentile bride
        1. Genesis 41:45
      6. Jesus is given a Gentile bride
        1. The church
        2. Ephesians 5:25-33
      7. Joseph is the only hope for a dying world
        1. Genesis 41:55-57
        2. Genesis 41:49
      8. Jesus is the only hope for a dying world
        1. Acts 4:12
        2. Romans 10:12
  4. Joseph as the seeking savior (Genesis 41:1-5)
    1. Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
      1. Genesis 45:1-3
    2. Jesus reveals Himself
      1. John 8:21-30
    3. Joseph forgives and restores his brothers
      1. Genesis 45:4-5
      2. Genesis 50:20
    4. Jesus forgives and restores
      1. John 21:15-17
    5. Joseph invites his brothers to come to him
      1. Genesis 45:4
    6. Jesus invites us to come to Him
      1. John 1:35-51
    7. Joseph commissions his brothers to go
      1. Genesis 45:4,9
      2. Genesis 45:26-27
    8. Jesus commissions us to go, to tell others
      1. Matthew 28:18-20
  5. Conclusion
    1. The same Jesus who came to this world in the form of a baby, in literal fulfillment of Scripture, is coming again. Are you ready?
    2. Accept Jesus today. Call upon Jesus today. Repent, turn from your sins and turn to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and acknowledge Him as the Lord of your life.
      1. Romans 10:9-10
      2. Romans 10:13

Give Your Cares to Jesus


Dr. W. A. Criswell 

1 Peter 5:5-7

2-17-74    10:50 a.m.  (Click the Link and watch Dr. Criswell deliver this great and powerful message.)

W A Criswell in white suitOn the radio and on television you are rejoicing with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Casting Our Care Upon Christ.  It is a message from the fifth chapter of 1 Peter.  In our preaching through this epistle of Simon Peter, last Sunday we stopped at verse 4 in chapter 5.  This Lord’s Day we begin at verse 5 and preach through verse 7, “Yea, all of you be subject unto one to another, and be clothed with humility,”  then he quotes Proverbs 3:34; a proverb that is quoted by James, the preceding epistle, in James 4:6:


For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

Humble ye therefore yourselves under the hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time:

Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

[1 Peter 5:5-7]

 The verse that he quotes out of Proverbs is so dynamically stated here as the apostle wrote it in that Greek language, “God resisteth the proud” [1 Peter 5:5].  Tassō means “to arrange, to appoint, to determine, to set oneself,” tassō.  Antitassō means “to arrange oneself against, to determine against, to set oneself against,” it is a strong, strong word.  God antitassō, “sets Himself against.”  The whole order of God’s universe is arranged against the proud.

Isn’t that an unusual thing that God should take such a dislike, show such deep disfavor for soul-emptying, self-destroying pride, and yet it is a natural concomitant of our fallen natures?  We like to be lifted up; we like to be received; we like to be advanced; we like to live in ourselves, and we like for all of life to revolve around us.  We like to be ministered unto; we like all of the plaudits of the galleries.  We love being the center of attention, made over.  Pride: it is natural to the fallen man, like weeds grow up in a watered garden, or like the reeds and the rushes grow up on the side of a pond, so pride is a characteristic of our fallen natures.  When we kill it, it has a thousand lives.  When we try to bury it, it bursts forth out of the tomb.  It takes on a thousand shapes.  And when we think we have captured it, it eludes our grasp and mocks our pursuit.

Pride is a God-defying sin.  It arraigns the justice of God as did Cain [Genesis 4:8-16].  It confronts God and challenges Him to combat, as did Pharaoh: “I don’t know Jehovah.  Who is He, that I should obey His voice?” [Exodus 5:2].  It even shapes itself into a god, as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar [Daniel 3:1-7].  If I have any sensitivity to the Scriptures at all, I think it says that Satan fell, Lucifer fell because of pride; he lifted up his spirit and would be God himself [Isaiah 14:13-14].

God antitassō, “He arranges Himself, He sets Himself,” the whole universe is against pride.  “But God giveth grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may lift you up in due time” [1 Peter 5:56].

How would it be that a man humbles himself before God?  May I mention about four things?  Here’s one: a man would humble himself before God if he receives the most menial, lowest offices in Christ as though they were opportunities of great honor, such as being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord, such as speaking a word to a little child.  That’s not beneath the dignity of a saint of God, to talk to a little child about our precious Lord, or such as washing the saint’s feet.

I have been in services of those old Primitive, foot-washing Baptist people.  They cry their tears fall into the pans as they wash each other’s feet.  I wish I knew something to do in the church like that.  “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” [1 Peter 5:6].  Doing little things that we might do great things; being obedient in order that we might be rulers in His kingdom.

How would you depict a real, and glorious, and great Christian?  How would you draw him?  Well, here are some things I can suggest: a king, keeping the door of God’s house; a prince, feeding little lambs; or better and best still, the Son of God, clothed in the garment of a servant, a slave [Philippians 2:5-8], washing His disciples’ feet [John 13:4-5].

I think that’s what the apostle had in mind, by using one of the most unusual Greek verbs that you could ever stumble across: egkomboomai.  Isn’t that a heavy, multisyllabic word, egkomboomai?  Well, you’d look at that thing in reading this Greek text and say, “What in the earth does that word mean?”  It’s used nowhere else in all God’s Bible.  And yet, He uses it here.  So you go to a lexicon, a dictionary.  I don’t know what it means.  You look it up in the lexicon, and the word means, “bind on yourself the clothing, the garments, of a slave.”

That’s the word he uses here when he says that we are to be clothed with humility [1 Peter 5:7], we are to bind on ourselves the clothing of a slave.  And I think Simon Peter had in mind that never to be forgotten moment when the Lord took off His clothes and girded Himself as a slave to do the menial task of a household servant [John 13:4-5].  There was nobody there to wash the feet of the guests, so the Lord took off His garments and girded Himself in the clothing of a slave, and He washed feet.  You think that’s great?  God says it is.  That is the way to be exalted! “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”  We stoop to conquer.

What does this mean: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God”? [1 Peter 5:6]  For a second thing: not only the acceptance of a menial assignment in the name of Christ, but also the yielded surrenderedness to the disciplines of God.  “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” [Hebrews 12:6].  And there’s no one of us that escapes the rod, the disciplines of God.  And to bend before the will of God, as a reed bows before the wind; to be yielded to the will of God, as soft wax will take the imprint of the seal, thus to receive from God’s hands God’s disciplinary providences is to humble one’s self before the Lord, not fighting against God, not hating God.  As our Lord, in Gethsemane, He kissed the rod that beat Him and prepared for heavier strokes.  So the things that come in our lives over which we have no control, to receive them as from God’s hands, and to be grateful for them.

There was a little boy I read about who was very crippled.  And he hollered at the streetcar conductor as the streetcar stopped at the corner: “Wait up, mister!  Wait!  Wait for me, I’m coming!  Wait!”

And the streetcar conductor kept the streetcar door open, and the little, crippled boy clambered in and found a seat by a man who looked at the little fellow in amazement.  The boy was so bright, though so terribly crippled, and so cheerful.  And the man couldn’t help but exclaim to the lad, “Son, you seem so happy and so bright and so glad.  How do you be that way when you are so crippled?”

And the little fellow brightly replied, “Oh, sir,” he said, “Oh sir, my father tells me that God always gives us what is best.  And don’t you think I ought to be happy with the best?”

Whoever was the father of that little boy was a great man! He had found the answer.  What God gives us is what is best and to receive the disciplines of life, the circumscriptions of life, as from His hands is to be blessed, humbled that you might be exalted.

What is this, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God?” [1 Peter 5:6]  Not only the acceptance and honor of a menial task, an assignment in Christ, and not only yielding in gracious submission to the disciplines of God, but coming to God in God’s way, gratefully, gladly, humbly coming before the Lord, not in our way, but in His.  Not in some self-chosen, reasoning persuasion that we have decided upon, but as God shall invite us, so we come into His presence.  Maybe coming full of wonder, bowed down, weighted down with wonder that God should love us and that He should invite us.  Astonished, overwhelmed that God should have paid so great a price for us [1 Peter 1:18-19].  Just in amazement, that God should have chosen me, should have invited me!  Coming to God in God’s way, not arguing with God, “Now, God, I think of it like this, and here’s the way I think I ought to be saved.  And here’s how I think I ought to come.”  No, but doing it God’s way!

  • When God says, “Look and live” [Numbers 21:8], I shall look!
  • When God says, “Believe, and be saved” [Acts 16:31], I shall believe.
  • When God says, “Trust” [Psalm 62:8], I shall trust.
  • When God says, “Wash and be cleaned” [Revelation 7:14], I shall wash.
  • When God says, “Confess” [Matthew 10:32], I shall confess.
  • When God says, “Be baptized” [Matthew 28:19-20], I shall be baptized.
  • When God says, “Join yourself to His people” [Hebrews 10:25].  I shall join myself to His people, humbly, coming before the Lord in God’s way, not mine.

What does it mean “to humble oneself before the Lord, that He might exalt us in due time?” [1 Peter 5:6].  Why, I think it means emptying ourselves of us and being filled with the divine fullness of God.  Even God cannot fill a cup that’s already filled.  Even God can’t come into a man’s heart when he’s full of himself: all he thinks about is himself, all he talks about is himself, all he dreams for is himself, all his whole life revolves around is himself.  How can God do anything for a man like that?

But, if a man will empty himself, “Nothing of me, Lord, may it all be of Thee.”  That man can be filled with all of the fullness of the Triune God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:6-7].

Now if we will do the verse 6, “Humble ourselves unto God” [1 Peter 5:6], there are a whole lot of cares that we won’t be burdened with in verse 7, “Casting all of your care upon Christ” [1 Peter 5:7].  Ah, there are so many things that burden us, and weigh us down that we bring on ourselves.  They don’t come from God; they come out of us.  There are some men who are grasping; they are ambitious, and they are never satiated with self-preferment.  The more they have, the more they want.  The more publicity given them, the more they eagerly seek it and desire it.  The more advancement that they make, the more they want to be advanced.  The more famous they are, the yet more famous they want to be.   They are never satisfied; the more money they have, the more they want to get.  And they are filled with the cares of this world, seeking themselves, presenting themselves, and they are unhappy in their hearts, they are weighed down with themselves!

There are some cares, I say, that we bring on ourselves: troubled about tomorrow, worried about tomorrow, filled with anxiety about tomorrow.  God says there’s enough trouble in any day we live in besides borrowing tomorrow’s trouble [Matthew 6:34].  Just trust God for it, just believe in God for it, that’s a care that we don’t need to bear, just turn it over to God, every tomorrow.  There are cares that come upon us that we bring upon ourselves.

One of the strangest things about big men is that they can be vexed and upset over such little things.  Jonah was a great man.  Jesus pointed him out and said the greatest revival preacher of all time.  There never was a man that had such a result in his preaching as Jonah, Jesus said so! [Matthew 12:41]  The entire great world, ancient capital of Assyria, the entire city of Nineveh from the king clear down to the lowest servant, repented at the preaching of Jonah [Jonah 3:4-10].  He was a great, great prophet of God and a mighty revivalist.

Now I want you to look at him.  He’s over there on a hill, sitting under a gourd vine pouting, pouting! [Jonah 4:6].  You know what he is pouting about?  At first, he started off about what God might do about Nineveh[Jonah 3:2-3].  But this pouting I’m talking about was over a cucumber vine, it was over a bower of melon leaves; it was over a gourd that grew over his head and a worm cut it down and it made Jonah mad! “I’m mad!”  And, not only did it make him mad, but he said: “I want to die!” [Jonah 4:5-9].  All over the wilting of a gourd vine; that’s Jonah, and that’s you!

I know a man that lost his entire fortune and never thought anything about it; he just lost his whole estate.  And he got furious with his wife over a button that wasn’t sewed on his shirt.  We can be that way; we vex ourselves over little inconsequential minutiae!

Now these are the cares that he’s not talking about.  If we live under God, and as unto the Lord, none of those will ever come upon us.  Well, what are these cares that Simon Peter is thinking of: “Casting all of our cares upon Christ” [1 Peter 5:7].  What are those cares?  Well, I can name several of them.  Here’s one: spiritual cares.  And by spiritual cares I mean, “O God, dear blessed Jesus, what if my life fails?  Lord, what if I don’t make it to heaven?  Lord, what if I fall into hell?  Lord, what if my soul is not ultimately saved?  What’s going to become of me when I die and in the great judgment day, O God, am I going to be saved?”

Why, the Lord says to me by His inspired apostle Paul in the first chapter in Philippians, he says, “He that hath begun a good work in you, He will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ,” to the great consummation of His coming [Philippians 1:6].  He says in the last chapter of the Book of Hebrews, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5].  And He says in the tenth chapter of John, “I give unto you eternal life; and you will never perish” [John 10:28].

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

[“How Firm a Foundation,” John Rippon,1787]


That is one care I can take to Jesus.  “Lord, am I going to make it?  Am I going to be saved?  Really, God, will I be in heaven some day?  When they call the roll up yonder, will I answer, Here, Lord, here I am?”  God says, “Yes!  You turn that over to Me, I will see you through.  All the devils in hell cannot get you; and all of the sin in the universe cannot sink you, cannot destroy you, because where sin abounds, My grace overflows, it more abounds” [Romans 5:20].  I can take that care, am I going to make it?  Am I going to get to heaven?  Am I going to be saved?  I can take it to Jesus.

What are these cares that he’s talking about, that I can take to the Lord? [1 Peter 5:7].  Here’s one of them: kingdom cares, kingdom cares.  Now, what do you mean about kingdom cares?  I mean the foreboding that sometimes fills our hearts about God’s kingdom in the earth.  You can look around you, and you read, and see, and visit, and it seems as though the kingdom of darkness is going to swallow up the kingdom of light.  Why, there are whole great nations of the earth, and one third of its population, that is under stated state atheism, darkness like midnight, like you could cut it.  And even in Christendom, there’s a great apostasy and falling away, in empty churches, all over this earth.

“Lord, what is going to become of Thy kingdom?”  That’s a care I can take to God.  He presides over His own.  Even on the cross light shined from the cross that the darkness could not quench, could not put out, could not drown.  And some of the most brilliant rays that have ever flooded the darkness of this world have come from the shining of the fires that have burned the martyrs at the stake.  I can take it to Christ.  He is able, and He presides over this universe.

Upon a day when I first came here to Dallas, I sat by Mrs. Truett and talked to her about her great husband, pastor of this church forty-seven years.  She said to me, to my great surprise, that sometimes the great preacher, George W. Truett, would be despondent; he fell into despondency.  She said it was at a time when he felt he had failed, and she said to me, “I said to him, ‘George, when you have prayed and asked God to bless you; and when you have done the best that you can, then leave it to Jesus, leave it to God.’”

It is for us to dig the well; it is for God to send the rain and the water.  It is for us to plant the seed; it is for God to make it to sprout and grow.  It is for us to cultivate the field; it is for God to give the harvest.  It is for me to witness; it is for God to give the increase, to save the soul.  That’s a care I can take to Jesus.  When I’ve done the best I can, then God must do the rest, and He will; casting all our care upon Christ [1 Peter 5:7]. 

What are these cares that the apostle speaks of?  I think they are cares that attend our business life: “O Lord, I must make a living for my wife and my children, and I must support my home and I must win daily bread.  Lord, I have staked everything I have into this business.  O God, what shall come of it?”  That’s a care that I think a man can legitimately and rightfully, and pleasingly to God, take to Christ.  Make Him your partner; He will bless you, He will see you through.

Queen Elizabeth, of the 1600s, Queen Elizabeth I, called in a merchantman in London and asked him to go on a mission for her across the seas, a long time to be absent.  And he replied, “But Your Majesty, but Your Majesty!  What shall become of my business while I’m gone?  It will fail!  It will go bankrupt!  I cannot leave on so long a mission, Your Majesty, I cannot go!  What will happen to my business?”

And the queen said to that prince of merchants, she said, “Sir, you go on my business, and take care of my business; and while you’re gone, I’ll take care of yours.”

The merchant went abroad, stayed, did the work of the queen, came back, and to his amazement, under her patronage and her tutelage and her care and guidance, his business had flourished and quadrupled!  That’s what God will do for you, if you’ll make a partner out of Him and take it to Christ.

I want to show you that I’m not just saying words.  Look, look out of the Book.  The Lord Jesus said to Simon Peter who was in the fishing business, he and the sons of Zebedee were partners in the fishing business, that’s what God’s Book says, they were partners in the fishing business.  So the Lord said to Simon Peter, “Simon, I want your boat. I want your boat.  You see these people, I want it for a pulpit to preach in.  I want to borrow your boat” [Luke 5:1-3].

And Simon Peter could have replied, “Lord, Lord, You don’t understand.  Lord, that’s my livelihood!  That’s my business!  I can’t give You my boat.  I don’t have any other way to fish.  I don’t have any other way to make a living but to fish.  Lord, I need the boat, You can’t have it!”

But what does the Book say?  Simon Peter gave the Lord his boat, and the Lord used it to preach the gospel.  Then when the message was done and the sermon was finished, “Simon Peter,” said the Lord Jesus, “Simon, launch right out there.”  And when he got out there, the Lord says, “Now, let down your net” [Luke 5:1-7].  And he got a haul, a catch of fish.  Under Jesus he caught more fish in ten minutes than he had ever caught in the previous ten months of his life.  I’m just telling you what’s in the Book, I never made that up, that’s in the Book!  You’re in a business?  Make Jesus your partner, take every problem and every decision, take it to Jesus, see what happens to you and your business.  “Casting your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:7].

Oh, where does the time go?  One other, the cares of the home, of the children:  “Does the Lord know my name?  Does He?  Does He know where I live?  Does He know what I do?”  Listen, He cares for ants as well as angels; He cares for worms as well as whales, for He cares for sparrows as well as for cherubim, for butterflies as well as for battalions of angelic hosts.  And He knows all about you, and your cares, and your children, a mother:


The Master has come over Jordan,

Said Sarah the mother, one day.

He is healing the people who throng Him,

With a touch of His hand, they say.


And now I shall carry the children,

Little Rachel, and Samuel, and John,

I shall carry the baby, Miriam,

For the Lord to look upon.

The husband looked at her kindly,

As he shook his head and smiled:

Now who, but a doting mother,

Would think of a thing so wild?


If the children were tortured by demons,

Or dying of fever ‘twere well;

Or had they the taint of the leper,

Like men in Israel.

But the mother replied, Nay, do not hinder me, Nathan,

I feel such a burden of care;

If I carry it to the Master,

I know I can leave it there.


If He lay His hand on the children,

My heart will be lighter I know,

For a blessing forever and ever

Will follow them as they go.


So over the hills of Judah,

Along by the vine rows green,

With Miriam asleep on her bosom,

And Rachel her brothers between;


Among the people who hung on His teaching,

Or awaited His touch and His word,

Through the royal, proud Pharisees listening

She pressed to the feet of the Lord.


Now why shouldest thou hinder the Master,

said Peter, with children like these?

Seest thou not from morning to evening

He teacheth and healeth disease?


Then Christ said, Peter, forbid not the children,

Permit them to come unto Me!

And He took in His arms little Miriam,

And Rachel He sat on His knee:


And the heavy heart of the mother

Was lifted all earth care above,

As He laid His hands on the brothers,

And blessed them with tenderest love.


And He said of the babes in His bosom,

Of such are the kingdom of heaven

And strength for all duty and trial

That hour to the mother was given.

[“Christ and the Little Ones,” Julia Gill]


Do you believe that?  Do you think that’s true?  God says it’s true!  “Forbid them not.”  In my study, to the left, and I look at it hours every day, right there in my study, to the left, is a magnificent painting by the Yugoslav artist, painted a century ago, and the title of it is Forbid Them Not.   And Jesus is there, standing in a white, beautiful robe, and He has in His arms a little baby, and the children are at His feet.  And Simon Peter and the others are trying to send the mothers, with their children, away, but Jesus is holding up His arm like that, saying, “Forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 19:14].

“Casting all your care upon Him” [1 Peter 5:7]; take to Him anything; take to Him everything, and biggest, and best, and mostest of all, take to Him yourself, and your house, and your home, your heart, and your life, and your children, and your every tomorrow.  Would you, accepting, receiving, opening your heart to the Lord as Savior, or putting your life in the fellowship of the church?

This week someone said to me, “When you give that invitation, would you explain what you mean when you invite people to come to the Lord?”  Here’s what I mean, “Lord Jesus, I open my heart to Thee.  Forgive my sins; come and dwell in my soul.  Write my name in the Book of Life in glory; stand by me in this life, and in the hour of my death, and in the world to come.  I want God as my Savior!”

And the second invitation, “I want to give my life to God in the church, my membership some other place, but I’ve been saved and I’ve been baptized, and I want to come and fellowship with the church.”  Or maybe a third, “I would just like to give my life again and anew unto the Lord, and I’m coming.  I want to pray with you.”

For whatever reason the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, in the moment that we sing this hymn of appeal, come.  Answer with your life; make the decision now, and when you stand up, stand up coming.  God bless you, angels attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.

Effective Praying


Dr. W. A. Criswell

James 4:1-3

10-27-74    10:50 a.m.

Active Link to Video for this message.…/1974/getting-things-from-god


W A Criswell in white suitOn the radio and on television all of us are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  In our preaching through the Book of James, we have come to the fourth chapter; and the message is an exposition of the first three verses.  It is entitled Getting Things From God.

The pastor of the church in Jerusalem writes:


From whence come wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts at war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your own lusts.

[James 4:1-3]


There are some words in the passage that in 1611 might have reflected the true passage that the pastor wrote, but to us they have a somewhat different color and connotation.  He says, “Do not these troubles that arise between you, arise of your lusts that war in your members?” [James 4:1].  The word ishēdonē.  A very common word in the English language is hedonism, hedonistic; that is, pleasure-loving.  Lust has a little different turn to us, today.  But hēdonē: self gratification, ministering to one’s self, pleasure.

Then the second verse: “Ye lust, and have not” [James 4:2].  Epithumia has no gesture toward lust.  Epithumia means to long for earnestly, to desire.  Then he says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss” [James 4:3].  That’s all right.  Kakos, literally means, “badly,” and can mean, “evilly.”  “That ye may consume it,” dapaneō, means “to spend wastefully, luxuriously,” that you may consume it upon your lusts [James 4:3].  And there again, the word is hēdonē, for selfish pleasures.

So the pastor is writing about why we don’t get things from God.  Now he’s going to speak of it, not prayer in the sense of communion, or fellowship, or a surrendered yieldedness to God; but he’s going to write a prayer as an instrument, a means of receiving things from the hands of God.  How do you do that?

First of all, we would say, a truism: most people don’t even try.  Prayer is extraneous to their thought and to their life.  To the natural man, prayer would be a burdensome task.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The same inspired apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:7, he said, “The carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, neither can be.”  And he said further that the flesh cannot please God [Romans 8:8].  So to an unspiritual man, to a natural man, the man of the flesh, the carnal man, prayer is extraneous, and is looked upon as a burden, and as a tedious task.

Even in our church you will find that same repercussion, that holdover from our old carnal nature.  For to many of us, prayer would be a wearisome assignment.  I can see that in how our people respond, say, to an invitation to come to dinner, or to an invitation for entertainment.  And they’ll be there, but when they are invited to pray, they find other places that are more alluring and attractive.  And of course to a skeptic, and to an unbeliever, prayer is absolutely impertinent; it has no meaning whatsoever.  Prayer is nothing to an unbelieving world.  And to ask or not ask would be just the same.

Now when we come to ourselves—we who are Christians and have been baptized into the faith and belong to the household of God—we also find frustration in prayer; for we ask and we don’t receive.  That seems such a diametrical contradiction of what our Lord wrote.  You read Luke’s account of it in his eleventh chapter [Luke 11:9-13].  Matthew makes it a part of the Sermon on the Mount, when our Lord said in Matthew 7:7:


Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.


Then He added:

If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask Him?

[Matthew 7:7-811]


So we ask, and surely enough, there is nothing returned: nothing received, nothing given, nothing found, and nothing opened for us.

Well, that’s why the pastor at Jerusalem—the apostle James—that’s why he writes this passage.  “You do not have because you do not ask; and you ask and receive not because ye ask kakos [James 4:3].  You don’t ask correctly.

God has put this world together in a way that it runs according to certain principles and certain laws.  And if you obey those principles and those laws, you will find a response, a return.  But if you don’t, you don’t find the response; and you don’t find the return.  It has to be done according to the way God set it up.  And to tell whether or not you are obeying the law or not, being obedient to the principle of God is whether the thing works or not, whether you get what you are after or not.

If you have a problem in mathematics, the answer as to whether you did it right or not is the sum of it.  Is it correct?  If you had a machine, the answer to whether the thing is put together right or not is whether it does what you want it to do.  Does it run?  And does it produce?

So it is in this thing of prayer, of getting things from God.  If you do it right, you have to use the instrument in the correct way.  If you get what you want, you have to do it in the way God set it up.  No matter what kind of an instrument, or how effectively it may be put together, if it is not used correctly, then it won’t work right.

For example, when our little fellow Cris was a baby, he was in a highchair, eating at the table.  And he had a spoon in his hand, and he was trying to eat with the spoon turned upside down.  Did you ever try to eat with a spoon turned upside down?  It’s just the opposite of what you want.  It doesn’t scoop up.  You have to turn it up, you know, to make it scoop up.  Well, he was trying to eat with it upside down.  So I took his little hand, and I turned the spoon up.  And I said, “Son, this is the way you eat.”  Well, sure enough, he turned it backside up and tried to go through eating, cramming that into his mouth.  No!  You can’t do it that way.  It was made to do this way.  And if you don’t do it this way and you do it that way, it doesn’t work.  It’s not made that way.

I was over there in Embree Hall one time, and I never heard such raucous noises in my life.  There were some of these teenage kids that somehow or the other had gotten the key to the organ; and they had opened it, and they were fooling around with that organ.  And the sounds out of it, Tommy, would drive a man insane.  It was made to work in a certain way, such as Tommy can do it.  But the way they were doing it, it sounded terrible.

Now all the things in God’s whole universe are like that.  He puts it together in a certain way.  And when we follow that way, and follow those principles and those laws, the way God made it to work, it works beautifully, marvelously—anywhere in it, up and down, high and low, from side to side.  But when we don’t do it that way, when we don’t follow the principles and the laws of the Lord, then we follow into ways that lead to frustration, and defeat, and sometimes abject despair.

So the apostle, the pastor, James, the Lord’s brother, writing here about prayer, he says several things.  One: we do not have because we do not ask.  And another: when we do ask, we do not receive because we ask kakos, badly, that we may consume it, dapaneō, wastefully spend it on our own hēdonē, our own personal pleasures [James 4:3].

All of us are made pretty much alike; and apparently there is no limit to our wanting.  If we have two cars, we want a third one.  If we have one, we want a second one.  If we are affluent enough to have a beautiful townhouse, we’d like to have one also out in the country.  If we have a million dollars, we want two.  If we have 500 million dollars, we want a billion.  The people who are the most avaricious and grasping for money are rich people.  There seems to be no satiety, no satiation to the wants of people.  They just expand, and expand, and expand; and the more we have, the more we want.  Nations are like that.  This is why the apostle writes, “From whence come wars among you and fighting?” [James 4:1].  It’s because these things that you seek, and desire, and covet, you just want more, and more, and more.  And so the nations finally come to bitter grips about possessions.

There is no solution to this oil industry.  Someday you are going to find, when it comes to a choice between the poverty and impoverishment of industrialized nations, and seizing the oil, I can tell you exactly what will happen.  They will attempt to seize the oil.  That’s the way humanity is put together.  We are just made that way.

So he says, that in our praying, so much of why we don’t get what we ask for is, we use God.  “Why should there be a God,” we say to ourselves, “if He is not usable to us?”  So we use Him.  And we ask in order that we may consume what we ask for, for our own selfish pleasures [James 4:3].

Now, I haven’t time to add to that.  There are many reasons why the Scriptures reveal to us that we ask, and we don’t receive.  For one thing, we don’t expect it.  We ask without any expectation of our prayer being answered at all.  The Lord said to a man one time, “According to your faith be it done unto you” [Matthew 9:29].

Sometimes we ask indifferently.  We don’t agonize.  The Lord spoke of that when He spoke of our importunity in prayer: to pray, to ask, to ask again and again, earnestness in our intercession [Luke 18:3-7].

Sometimes, we don’t get our answer because we have harshness in our hearts toward others.  The Lord said when you pray, if you have aught against your brother, forgive him; ask him to forgive you.  Make it right with him [Mark 11:25].

Then sometimes our prayers are not answered because of sin in us.  The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” [Psalm 66:18].

Isaiah wrote the first two verses in the fifty-ninth chapter of his prophecy:


Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your sins have separated between you and your God, and your iniquities have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.

[Isaiah 59:1-2]


So, these things interfere; they come between us and God.  But he also says, and this is the emphasis of the message this morning—he also says that there are times when we have not, because we ask not [James 4:2].  We just don’t take it to God in prayer.  We don’t make it a matter of prayer.


I got up early one morning

And rushed right into the day.

I had so much to accomplish

That I didn’t have time to pray.


Problems just tumbling about me,

And heavier came each task.

“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.

And God answered, “You didn’t ask.”


I tried to come into God’s presence

And used all my keys at the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided,

“My child, you didn’t knock.”


I wanted to see joy in beauty.

The day tore on gray and bleak.

I wondered, “Why doesn’t God show me?”

He said, “You didn’t seek.”


So I woke up early this morning

And paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish.

I had to take time to pray.

[“No Time to Pray,” Grace L. Naessens]


The reason we don’t have help from heaven is we don’t ask for it [James 4:2].  We don’t take it to God.  We don’t make it a matter of prayer.  We just rush into it ourselves, make decisions ourselves, plan things for ourselves, and just leave God out of it.  Then we wonder why life can be so bleak and so gray, so frustrating and disappointing.  We don’t have because we don’t ask.

You know, it is a marvelous thing, how God can be moved to answer if we ask—just ask.  Now I stumbled into this in Psalm 107.  The psalmist is going to talk about a man who is sick unto death, and in his extremity, he prays.  Then he is going to talk about a mariner, a sailor in a storm, and in the agony and terror of the hurricane, and the boat about to sink; then he is going to talk about the man as he prays.  And in both instances, the man is heard.  God hears him and saves him.  But the psalmist says, why can’t we take it to God before the extremity?

Now, you listen to the psalmist: “His soul abhorreth”—this, beginning at verse 18—“all manner of food.”  He’s sick.  He’s nauseated.  And he draws near to the gates of death [Psalm 107:18].  Then he cries unto the Lord in his trouble, and God saves him.  God sends His word and heals him and delivers him [Psalm 107:19-20].  Then, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” [Psalm 107:21].

Now, he’s going to talk of a mariner.  “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do great business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord ….” [Psalm 107:23-24]. God commands and raises the wind, and lifts up the waves [Psalm 107:25].  “They mount up to the heavens, and they go down again to the depths; and their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro,” on a deck of a ship that is torn like a leaf on the water.  The people “reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end” [Psalm 107:26-27].


Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and God brings them out of all their distresses.

He makes the storm a calm, and the waves thereof still.

Then are they glad because they be quiet; and so He bringeth

them unto their desired haven.

Oh that men—Oh that men would praise the Lord for His

goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

[Psalm 107:28-31]


God answers prayer.  He just does.  Here’s a sick man, in his extremity and he hadn’t prayed.  But in his final, agonizing moments, he asks God; and God hears him.

Or here are sailors that never think about God. Or if they do, they use His name in vain—like our politicians.  They just cuss all the time.  Isn’t that tragedy?  How in the world can God bless America when our men in highest office use God’s name in vain with no thought at all?  They all do it, practically.  I am so disappointed I don’t how to say it.  Here are men who, like drunken sailors, they reel and they are men that never have called on the name of the Lord.  And in their extremity, they pray, and God hears them.  He is that kind of a God.  We don’t have because we don’t ask.  We don’t take it the Lord.  We don’t make it a matter of prayer.

You know, in my preparing the message, I came across the story of a sweet little boy.  He was a German lad, and he was so devout.  He loved the Lord, and he prayed to God.  His father and mother were very dilatory, but the little boy was so devout.  The pastor would speak of him in praise for the godliness and holiness of such a little lad.  The headmaster at the school said, “Be sure always to be on time.”  So the little boy sought to be on time when he went to school.

This day, this morning, on account of his parents, the little boy couldn’t get away.  And when he walked out the door to go to school, the clock struck the time that he was to be there.  That was a long walk from his house to the schoolhouse, and the little fellow bowed his head and prayed aloud, “O Lord, O Lord, don’t let me be late for school!”

There was a man who overheard the boy’s prayer.  And he thought, “This is unthinkable!  It has already struck time for the boy to be there, yet he prays, ‘O God, don’t let me be late for school.’”  And out of curiosity, the man, the listener, followed behind the boy just to see what would happen.

You know what happened?  The headmaster of the school had put his key in the doorknob, in the lock, and somehow he had turned it the wrong way, and he jammed the lock.  He couldn’t get the door open.  They called for a locksmith.  And when the locksmith had finished his work, and the door opened, and the headmaster and the students walked in, in walked in that devout little boy, just on time.  Isn’t that blessed?  “Ask,” He says.  “Ask.”  Make it a matter of prayer.  “Ask.”  [Matthew 7:7].

Yesterday afternoon, I went out to Collins Hospital, a part of our Baylor University Complex, to visit one of our members.  He was there on the fourth floor in a wheelchair, as an invalid, where they had placed him out in the hallway; so I visited with him.  And after my visit, I said, “Let’s pray.”  So I bowed my head, and he bowed his.  And then I prayed.  When I said, “Amen,” and had finished my prayer, he seized my hand with both of his and said, “Now, I want to pray.”  I said, “Fine.”  So I bowed my head and closed my eyes again, as I stood by his wheelchair, and he prayed.

And this is what he prayed: he said, “O Lord, how wonderful it is to have the pastor to come to see me.”  He said, “My dear, sainted mother never had but two pastors: Dr. Truett and Brother Criswell.  And now he has come to see me, and I am so happy to have him.  And now, dear Lord, you know I don’t have a penny.  I don’t have a cent.  I don’t have any money at all.  And, O Lord, you know how I want a package of cigarettes.  Now Lord, put it in the pastor’s heart to give me the money to buy a carton of cigarettes.”  Then he said, “And dear Lord, if he won’t give me the money to buy a carton of cigarettes, dear Lord,” and he just held onto my hand, “dear Lord, put it into his heart to give me the money to buy just one package of cigarettes.  Please, Lord.  Amen.”

I pulled out my billfold.  You know, I couldn’t walk away from that guy without giving him that dollar bill for those cigarettes, as much as I hate those “coffin nails.”  I just couldn’t do it.  Well, the Book says we are made in the image of God [Genesis 1:27].  I guess God is a little like that.  The rule is to ask.  The first principle is to ask.  “Ask, and you shall receive” [Matthew 7:7].

And He doesn’t say, “Study a book about it.”  You don’t have to be learned.  You don’t have to have doctor’s degrees.  You don’t have to have a diploma in theology.  You don’t have to go to the library and read a book.  Just as you’d talk to your own father, so the Lord invites us to talk to Him: the high and mighty, the low and menial.  All of us, just ask—just take it to God and ask.

Sometimes God will say, “It is not best.”  When Moses pled with the Lord to let him go over into the Promised Land, God said to him, “Moses, speak no more to Me of the matter.  No.  No.  No”[Deuteronomy 3:23-26].

When the Lord prayed, “Lord, let this cup pass from Me” [Matthew 26:39].  God said, “No.”  And the Lord died on the cross [Matthew 27:46-501 Corinthians 15:3].

When Paul said, “Lord, this thorn in the flesh; remove it from me” [2 Corinthians 12:7-8].  God said, “No, My strength is made perfect in weakness.  My grace is sufficient for thee” [2 Corinthians 12:9].  God may say no, but God’s rule and God’s principle is that we ask.  That’s the way He has put this thing together.  It pleases God that we ask.  Make it a matter of prayer.  Take it to God, and ask of God [1 Thessalonians 5:17].

The Lord, when He was incarnate, prayed.  In the second Psalm it says, “Ask of God, and He will “give you the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”[Psalm 2:8].  But He is to ask.  Even the Lord Jesus is to pray.  It was the purpose of God to bless all Israel, but Samuel had to pray for the blessing [1 Samuel 12:19].  It was the purpose of God, in the days of Elijah, to send the rain [1 Kings 18:1].  But Elijah had to pray for it [1 Kings 18:41-45].

When Daniel read after seventy years in the prophet Jeremiah God was to visit His people and they could return back home, Daniel yet had to pray for it [Daniel 9:2-19].

It was the purpose of God to save the Gentiles, and God raised up Paul, Saul, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles [Acts 9:15], but he had to pray for us that we might be saved [Ephesians 3:14-17].  That’s the way God has put it together.

Why doesn’t God just do it anyway?  I don’t know.  It pleased God.  The principle, and the rule, and the program of God is that I ask Him, that I pray, that I take it before Him.  That’s the way God makes it work.

We have a tremendous assignment in our church.  We have our stewardship program that we are underwriting now.  I can tell all of our deacons, and I can tell all of our people this: we’re not going to succeed in that, if we don’t pray.  We must ask God for it.  And that sweet family that was up here, the Bristol family, they don’t do that of themselves.  That father of that boy prayed, and that lad prays.  And if he doesn’t teach his children to pray, they’re not going to do that.  They just won’t.  The time will come inevitably when they’ll say to themselves, “This is just too much trouble.  This is too much burden.  This is too much to give to God.”  These things come out of our prayer life, and they don’t come, they don’t arise any other place.

Same way about the spirit of our church: If God is here, we have to ask God to be here.  If we feel His presence, we must ask God, in saving grace, to walk among us, to sit down by our side, to live in our hearts.


Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,

With all Thy quickening powers.

Kindle in us a flame of sacred love,

Even in these hearts of ours.

[“Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,” Isaac Watts]


We can’t do this without prayer.  It can’t be done.  I think the apostle is avowing, nor can it done anywhere in the world, nor can it be done nationally, unless a people pray and ask God, they would be thrown into wars, and conflicts, and judgments.  That’s the way God made it, that we pray [1 Thessalonians 5:17].

But if we do, God gives us above all that we ask or think.  That’s the way the apostle Paul closed his prayer in the third chapter of Ephesians:


Now unto Him who is able to do above all that we ask or think. . . .

Unto Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus. . .

world without end.  Amen.

[Ephesians 3:2021]


“Above all that we ask or think.”  If you ask, God will do above all that we have asked for, and all that we could even think for.  Abraham asked God for Ishmael [Genesis 17:18], prayed to God for Ishmael.  The Lord was pleased, and said, “I will make of Ishmael a great people.”  All of those Arab people, “I will make of them a great people” [Genesis 17:20].  But, He gave him more than he asked for.  When he was a hundred years old, and when Sarah was ninety years old [Genesis 17:17], out of his own loins, God gave him Isaac [Genesis 21:235-11].  “Above all that we ask or think” [Ephesians 3:20].

Jacob said, “Lord, if You will just give me raiment, and food, and bring me back home, I will give the tenth unto Thee” [Genesis 28:20-22].  When God brought him back to Bethel, Jacob was enriched immeasurably [Genesis 33:5-11].

Solomon said, “Lord, give me wisdom.”  And God said, “I will give you everything else beside” [1 Kings 3:9-13].

When the transgressor, the thief on the other side of the Lord Jesus, prayed, “Lord, remember me,” Jesus said to him, “Today—semeron—”This day you will be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:42-43].

When the prodigal son came back to his father and said, “Father!  I am not worthy to be called thy son.  Just make me one of these menial hired servants.  Send me out into the field, or whatever, and just give me the wages of a hired hand.”  The father said, “Bring hither the finest robe, and put it on him; and put a ring upon his finger; and kill the fatted calf.  For this my boy was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” [Luke 15:18-24].  And they began to rejoice.  That is God.

“Above all that we ask or think” [Ephesians 3:20].  Ask Him.  Ask Him.  Make it a matter of prayer.  “Lord, I don’t know the decision to make in this.”  Ask Him.

James begins his book with that: “If any of you lack wisdom, knowing how, ask, and God gives abundantly” [James 1:5].  “Lord, I have a problem in my life.”  Take it to God.  Make it a matter of prayer.  “Lord, I’ve got troubles,” or “I have needs.”  Take it to the Lord.  Above all that we ask or think [Ephesians 3:20] will God answer from heaven.

Ask.  It pleases God for you to ask.  He delights in our importunity.  Ask.  Take it to the Lord.  Make it a matter of prayer.  “Pray without ceasing” [1 Thessalonians 5:17]; that is, make everything a subject of intercession before God—little things.  He is not only the God of the big; He is the God of the little.  He is not only the Lord of princes, and presidents, and prime ministers; He is the Lord of the most menial, and the most humble.

Take it to God.  He will answer.  You’ll have a new life, and new hope, and a new uplift in your soul.  There will be a heavenwardness in you, a Christ-wardness in you that you never knew before, if you’ll just ask.

Our time is far spent.  In a moment, we are going to sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing that song of invitation, if the Lord has spoken to you, would you come down that aisle, or down that stairway?  “Today, pastor, I take the Lord as my Savior.”  Or, “Today, I’m putting my life in the fellowship of this dear church.”  A family, a couple, or just you, make the decision in your heart, and on the first note of the first stanza, come.  Do it now.  Make it now, while we stand, and while we sing.