September 24, 2014.
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
There are many times in my life where I have given counsel that confidence really helps you get places. You want to do well on a test? Have confidence in yourself that you will indeed to well. You want to give a good speech? Have faith in yourself that you can do it. Whereas it isn’t the only that is necessary for success, confidence goes a long way and I would venture that many would be surprised of how much it would help them in their everyday lives.
But why stop there? Why apply confidence to the secular parts of our lives and not apply it to what should be the most important part of our lives, our journey with Christ? Do you have confidence in Christ? Do you believe that He will work everything together for good for those who love Him? It is sad for me to admit that upon occasion, I really don’t think I had the confidence in Christ that I needed to. This was not to say that I didn’t believe in Him or that I didn’t believe He could do whatever He wanted to, even. Yet, just because I had the idea in my mind that Christ is all powerful, I don’t think I acted on this idea in my heart. I too often rely on myself and “my” abilities (though they are given to me by Him who is above) and I don’t put my trust in the will of God.
Do you ever have that problem? I think there are three (well, probably much more than three, these are just the ones that I have come up with so far) major problems that stand as obstacles when we try to trust the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and I would like to look at each for a few moments so that we can recognize the problem and hopefully hurdle over them.
1. We are afraid His will is not our will.
This is probably the biggest obstacle that stands in our way of trusting God. Sure, we pray for His will in all things to be done… but sometimes we pray that reluctantly. I know I have gone so far as to ask God for something even if it wasn’t His will, or at least asked for His will to be such and such. Looking back, I realize that that probably wasn’t the best idea and it showed a lack of trust. In the end, we have this promise:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
This is a favorite verse of many and there is a lot of truth and comfort asserted in this simple statement. Everything is going to work out for good. That is soothing, until we realize that perhaps the good is not what we would consider good, or perhaps not what we would want to happen. It is interesting to me that the two verses that lead to this one in a way deal with this very problem (and aren’t quoted all that often):
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, butthe Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought.” What a statement! And it’s so true, isn’t it? Can you imagine if you got everything you prayed for? Sure, on the surface that might seem great, but when you really think about it and the problems that it could have caused, or the derailing of the life plan that you are on now, isn’t it a relief that God gave you what you needed instead of just what you wanted? Now, that isn’t to say that it is wrong to pray for the things that we want or the things that we think we need. But know this, that God will work everything out for good, according to His will. His will might entail you getting what you want, or it might not. But you will get what you need (ref. Matt 6:33).
So how do we get past this obstacle? Well the answer that I believe to be correct is not easy. We have to continue to make our will conform to His will. If our will is indeed the same as His, then we will get everything we desire. We have to learn that it is okay to hear the answer “no,” for this is not a rejection of us, but rather a protection and wise decision by the Lord above. If we are content in what He supplies, then we have found the way to the heart of Christian joy.
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
2. We don’t see His power as clearly today.
“Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, “O man of God, this is the king’s order, ‘Come down quickly!’” But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.”
(II Kings 1:9-12)
Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets in the sense that he performed many spectacular and wonderful acts through the hand of God. You see him here calling down fire from heaven. He also raised the dead, defeated 900 false prophets, ran faster than a chariot, caused it not to rain for three and a half years and was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind. Wow! What’s more, his apprentice that would serve in his place afterwards, Elisha, asked for a double portion of his spirit (talk about courage!). Even Elijah said “You have asked a hard thing.” But he was granted a double portion and went on to do wonderful and spectacular works in his day. It must have been amazing to see this!
Not only this, but think about the plagues of Egypt, or the pillar of fire that guided the children of Israel by night, or the signs and wonders of Jesus and the apostles. We might be tempted to say “Well of course they believed! They saw those things with their very eyes!” There is some validity to this statement, but we must remember that not everyone who saw the signs believed, nor was it necessary to see these things for belief. What’s more, we can never forget that the same God that produced these signs in the bible is the the God that we serve today. Has He changed? Has he become less powerful in some way? Of course not! This same Spirit that dwelt in the prophets and the apostles dwells in us today!
This is our second obstacle. Sometimes when we ask God for something, we don’t really believe that He can even do it. I don’t think this shows a lack of faith, per say, in that we don’t think He is all powerful, but rather it shows a lack of understanding and a compartmentalization of God. The God in the bible could do all these wonders, but the God today can’t (or won’t might be a better word to describe what we believe). But that’s simply not true. God is the same today, yesterday and forever. He is still all powerful. He can still work any situation for His will, and He does. But that’s the thing. It’s all for His will. See the first point.
3. We don’t fully understand what this all means.
This is probably the most subtle of the three and something that plagues even the most spiritual from time to time. We have the intellectual knowledge that Jesus is Lord, we know that He is coming back to bring us to glory and we know that it is our duty to seek and to save the lost, just as Christ did. We know all this, but sometimes I don’t think we know all this. I don’t know if that actually made as much sense to you as it does to me. What I’m trying to say is that we have a working knowledge of what Christianity is, but we don’t always grasp the level of truth and importance it implies. If we did, we would know that nothing else on this earth really matters. It really doesn’t matter how much money you make, how successful you were in your company or even how many wins your team gets (I know, blasphemous right?). Only one thing matters. Serving our Lord.
Applying this to our daily lives, what would we do differently if we really did grasp this fully? Would we get so angry at people? Would we argue over petty things? Would we spend more time talking about Christ to everyone we meet? I’m not saying that it is wrong to pursue a career or even to have success in life. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, especially if you use your success to always glorify God. But it can become wrong in the sense that if we put it over our Christianity, then we have put a god before our God. And this is never acceptable. I know that we hear this so often that we probably just skip over it and say “yeah, yeah, I know,” but I want you to really consider it here. What are you putting before God? Do you really, fully grasp what the point in life truly is? I know I don’t sometimes, and I am ever working to grow closer to my true calling. Being successful is great, but it means nothing if you don’t give all the glory to God. Nothing. Worthless. Vain. Without point. Garbage. You could be the president of the United States and end world conflict, and whereas this might help many people grow closer to Christ, it would do nothing for you, absolutely nothing, if you did not glorify God in it. But it could mean everything if you did all this and did glorify God.
So that’s our third hurdle: truly understanding the meaning of life. Once we grasp this (and trust me, I’m still working on grasping it fully), then we will be always in step with his will, and we will have effectively demolished both this obstacle and the first obstacle presented.
When you are going throughout your week, keep in mind these three hurdles and see if you can’t negate them along the way. I believe this will benefit you and I greatly and will ever give all the glory to Him who reigns above.
Suggested Daily Reading: Romans 8, Philippians 3-4, Hebrews 10.
The Lord guide you.