Is Waiting the Answer?

Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Recently, I sat in the stands at a ballgame and found myself simply listening to the noises around me. Voices cheering; voices protesting; voices communicating; voices announcing; voices selling and buying; they ran together and blended to the point that I could not distinguish one voice from another. As I looked around, I realized the people filling the stadium seats were minuscule compared to the number of people in the world. I imagined the prayers of people floating up to our Heavenly Father; pleas for mercy; requests for forgiveness; cries for help; praise and thankfulness; and somehow, He hears them all.

I’m often asked if I believe God answers prayer. I know He does – not always in the way we wish He would answer and not always in the time frame we’ve chosen. Sometimes He says, “No” to our requests. We may understand later why He answered No or we may never understand. Sometimes He answers, “Yes!” It may take a while or it may be a quick answer. At other times, He has us “wait.” In waiting, He delivers an answer that usually makes more sense to us.

Garth Brooks wrote a song called “Unanswered Prayers.” He says, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer. Remember when you are talking with the man upstairs. Just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I’ve also experienced times when waiting was the answer. It seemed difficult to understand until when the answer was delivered, I realized if it had happened when I wanted it to happen, the outcome would not have been the same.

And then there are the wonderful times when we ask, and God answers just as we asked or maybe even better than we expected. Sometimes, He can answer our prayers beyond our wildest imaginations.

We serve a God who can hear all those voices as if He is listening one-on-one at the altar. We serve a God who can give one man a word to deliver to 1000 people and every one of those people hear a personal message, spoken directly to them. We serve a God who wants good for our lives.  I don’t know how He does it, but then again, if I knew, He wouldn’t be God, now would He?

Today, as you spend time in prayer with God, thank Him that He hears your requests. Rejoice in His power and might. Know that He hears your heart and knows what is best for you.

 


Are you living with impossibles?

2 Kings 6:6-7, “‘The man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.”

A servant of Elisha the prophet borrowed an ax so that he could cut down trees near the Jordan River to build a place for the company of prophets to live. Elisha is there helping. Suddenly, the ax head separates from the handle and falls into the river. You know as well as I know that the ax head sank pretty quickly to the bottom of the river. We can assume it was in a very deep part of the river or he wouldn’t have been so despondent.

In the days of Elisha, there wasn’t a Lowes or Home Depot in every city. So, the man knew to replace the ax head would not be an easy task. He was deeply troubled because the ax was a valuable tool, and it was not his but belonged to someone else.

Elisha cuts a branch from a nearby tree and throws it where the man indicated the ax head sunk. God defies gravity, and the ax head becomes visible so that the man can reach it.

Is God different today in our modern world? Can He still defy gravity and make ax heads float? What does Elisha have that we don’t have?

Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Luke 18:27 reads, “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’”

Elisha was an ordinary man with extraordinary faith. He took God at His word. Because of it, he did miraculous things to glorify our Father’s name.

Believe today that God can do the impossible in your life. Believe today your God can defy gravity to help you.


Your Full Attention

There was a popular show on television a few years back. A team of demolition workers, construction workers, decorators, architectural designers would come together and transform a person’s home in a week. The family would be sent on vacation and return to their home, no longer looking like it used to look, totally transformed – in a week! A large bus usually sat in front of the house and people would gather around and the family would yell, “Move that bus!” Emotions ran high as the camera crew would capture the moment of realization when the family saw their new home for the first time.

A friend of mine remodeled his home recently. He laughed because his kids had the idea the home would be finished in a week – like they do it on TV. He told them, “No. It takes much longer than that. We don’t have the ability to do what they do on that television show.” His daughter was discouraged because she had believed it would be like that.

Dave Earley in his book Living in His Presence writes, “There is no such thing as spiritual transformation. It is an ongoing process of ever-increasing glory. Our character is transformed little by little, a bit at a time.”

2 Corinthians 3:17-18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

When we come to know Christ, the Bible tells us we are “new creations” or that we are “born again.” John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone,  the new is here.”

Like infants, we have a lot to learn! Your walk with Christ is an ongoing learning experience. It doesn’t happen over-night. The transformation does not happen in a week either. Christianity is about studying the word of God. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them. It’s about repenting and turning in the other directions. New Christians are as vulnerable as an infant would be if left unattended. God is teaching us every day, molding us, and making us into the people He needs us to be.

If you know a person who is a new Christian, make it a point to encourage him in his walk. If you feel stagnant in your relationship with God, join a Bible study and learn His ways. If you feel frustrated that you are not where you need to be in your relationship with God, talk to Him about it. He is always there. He hasn’t gone anywhere – you have!

Remember, God is the Creator. Every second He is shaping you in ways you cannot imagine. He is forming you into the beautiful being He knows you can be. What He needs is your full attention to the project.


Searchlights

Proverbs 20:27, “The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being.”

Years ago when our boys were little, we had some of David and Daniel’s friends over for a cookout. The oldest of the boys was probably around 10 and the youngest 6. While I was preparing hotdogs and Connie fixing drinks and plates, the kids decided to have a game of hide-and-seek. There were 8 little boys running around trying to find the perfect hiding spot and one little boy counting. I glanced up from my grill and saw the back of one running into the nearby woods. I didn’t think much of it until 20 minutes later when 7 returned with the seeker, exhausted and concerned. The one who had run into the woods had not been found.

I quickly called Connie. Night had fallen faster than we had anticipated. We grabbed the flashlights, and Connie turned on our outside searchlights. The boys were to stay around the house and look for the missing friend. I went into the woods. Because we didn’t have cell phones, I instructed her to call the sheriff if I wasn’t back in 20 minutes.

As I walked through the familiar forest floor, I thought of God. He is our searchlight, delving into our spirits and finding what is good in us and what we need to change. Every hidden motive. Every self-serving thought. All the imperfections, God sees and if we allow Him, exposes for us the way to make our hearts right. He also knows the tender parts of us. He understands our compassion and desires. He evaluates the choices we make and applauds that which is like Him.

Within a few moments I stumbled upon the wayward boy. He looked up at me, “Hey Pastor! Did I win?”

“You sure did! Now, let’s go eat!” I answered, taking him by the hand.

Ask God today to be your searchlight. Ask Him to scan your body from head-to-toe. I want to know what He finds that I need to change, don’t you? There is no place to hide apart from God. There is no action He doesn’t see. There is nowhere we can go to escape His searchlight.


You have Authority

We have authority over the devil. Jesus tells us in Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

Luke 9:1, “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases…”

Authority is the right to command and enforce obedience. Just as He gave this authority to His disciples, so has He given it to us. In some ways we can consider it a Power of Attorney to act on His behalf against demons. He has given to us the authority to act in His name since He is not here on earth. When we use the name of Jesus Christ, Satan has to listen to us.

In Acts 3:6, Peter says, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Peter did not have the power to heal. What he acted upon was the authority to use the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to heal.

Do you know the devil trembles when he hears the name of Jesus? Demons have to leave at the name of our Savior. Satan must release his hand from you by the authority of Christ.

Some people take the privilege to mean that Satan will leave them alone. We will face trials and struggles. Hardship will at times surround us; but when it does, remember who you serve and under whose authority you reign.

Today, ask God for the confidence to act under His power and authority. Thank Him that He conquered Satan at the Cross.


The Freedom to Choose

Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

There are times, more than I’d like to admit, that I really don’t want to do the right thing; mainly, because I don’t feel like doing it. Some days, I would rather stay in bed instead of getting up to read my Bible and have prayer time with God. Sometimes, I would rather respond in anger to someone who is out-of-place or rude instead of responding in a calm and appropriate manner; actually,  I’d really like to bop them in the nose! At times, I would rather not stop and pick up a head of cabbage on my way home from work as Connie has requested of me. Often, I’d prefer to watch television instead of mowing the grass; would rather eat lemon cookies than raw carrots; and would rather not listen to complaints about my sermons and just go to lunch. But, bottom line, the way to victory requires discipline and has nothing to do with our feelings. God requires us to do what is right in all situations, not just when we “feel” like it.

God has given us the freedom to choose the right way or the wrong way; but He expects us to choose the right way. To enter the narrow gate, we have to actively pursue God’s Word and live by it obediently. There are days when I don’t feel like living obediently; however, I’ve learned from experience and the school of hard knocks, that it is faith not feelings that leads to eternal life.

Today, choose to do the right thing. Choose God’s way. Be one of the few that finds the small gate leading to the road of eternal life.


Alive!

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

I often hear people speak of the inconsistencies of the Bible. Most of these people are only reading portions of it or a few verses and claiming a fallacy. The beautiful part of the writers of scripture is God allowed them to express His teachings in various ways. The Bible, when read in its entirety, has no inconsistencies. Every part fits together, chapter after chapter; verse after verse; word after word. Some stories are told in duplicate but by different writers. We find this in the New Testament. While Matthew and John may have been at the same events with Jesus, they tell the stories of Him in different ways. But isn’t that human nature? Does anyone tell a story the exact same way?

It really doesn’t matter who wrote the words to paper; because, the Bible is the documented Word of God. His Spirit did the talking and He used different men to write it down. We can trust in every word of the Bible for it is God’s words to us. The Bible is the greatest instructional writing for our lives ever written. The Word is alive and can be used by us to navigate how we are supposed to live. Make the Bible an important part of your every day.