Will God automatically spare us from trouble?
Does God automatically lead us to truth?
Does God automatically give us what we need?
Does God automatically give us what we want?
Life goes on. Some days we feel energetic and capable; things go very well. Other times we may feel like there is a backpack of bricks that we’re forced to carry.
What’s the difference? As Christians won’t God just automatically give us what we need? Can’t we count on Him?
We can count on circumstances changing. Some people welcome challenge; others take it as a personal affront. Some expect risk, others want comfort. Many expect good things, automatically.
Is this normal?
For a long time we believed that Christians are supposed to “tough it out” and “put on a smiling face.” We expected to have some troubles, since they were good for teaching us patience.
Does this unwittingly play into the hands of our spiritual enemy?
By taking a passive stance do we actually invite more problems?
Remember, then . . .
Gladly we heard the wonderful news that Jesus died for our sins. We prayed to receive Him, and it was exciting to talk about the Lord. We could hardly keep quiet!
Then we tried to fit in with the other Christians. We were pressed into volunteering, served on committees, and eventually settled into some comfortable routine.
And, now . . .
We carry our Bible on Sunday, but we never unleash its power. We tiptoe around, hoping not to disturb the devil.
We buy into the idea of “diversity and unity” so we no longer share our faith with unbelievers.
Most Christians can point out the verses about coming to Jesus for rest, but very few notice the verse in that same chapter that says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12)
“Spiritual warfare, hmmm. That sounds risky. I think it’s something for pastors and the heads of big ministries. I don’t think God expects little ol’ me to have to do something like that.”
Someone else declares, “I thought we had victory in Jesus, like the song says. Isn’t that automatic when you become a believer?”
Another person affirms, “Just keep on praying and He’ll see you through.”
We can pray ourselves blue in the face with lots of clichés. We can just “leave it all at the Cross” and forget about the problem the best we can.
Obviously, now is the time to decide how we want to face life’s changes, troubles, conflicts, and opportunities. Success in life is not automatic.
Decisions = Consequences
Life’s decisions lead to consequences. Maturity means giving thought before taking action so we can do what is helpful for ourselves and others.
God does automatically give many blessings to each of us. But He wants us to learn to ask, trust, and rely on Him. When a need comes to our attention we can and should ask, without acting like God needs our directions and reminders. He knows what is best, but invites us to pray.
So, why are our prayers not answered?
Ask God which of these apply:
- There is sin in our own life, or the life of the one we’re praying for.
- We are not asking in agreement with the one requesting prayer.
- It’s time to quit praying, and start “saying.”
- We are not using His authority to take hold of the promises in God’s Word.
- God wants to teach us something while we are waiting for His perfect timing.
What did Jesus do?
Jesus taught His disciples — and us — how to do the work of God by what He did, as well as by what He said.
Jesus prayed alone, He prayed all night, He prayed before important decisions. His disciples saw the results of prayer. No doubt they heard Him pray. They asked to be taught how to pray.
How can we pray (recite) the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” without considering His Kingdom, His Will, His Power, His Glory. Are we cooperating with Him so His Will is being done on earth, as it is in Heaven? This prayer is an example of declaring, not only asking.
For healing and deliverance Jesus did NOT pray. He would SAY. He commanded something to be done. For example, see Mark 2:2-11.
Jesus said to “say to the mountain . . . “ (Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:23).
Jesus said we are to “bind and loose.” (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18).
Jesus commanded the disciples to do what He taught them and to pass it on. (Matthew 28:18-20).
What does the Bible say?
God gives many blessings automatically to everyone (Matthew 5:45). He loves everyone (John 3:16). But He wants us to grow and learn. Our disobedience brings correction so we will learn. Take a look at some of these important topics:
About what God expects of us:
- We are in a battle, and we are to fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12).
- What God revealed in His Word still applies to us. (Deuteronomy 29:29).
- Jesus said, the works I do you shall do also, and greater works. (John 14:12).
- Jesus can do no great thing here because of unbelief. (Matthew 17:20).
- Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17).
- Build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Spirit. (Jude 1:20).
- I cannot stand against my enemies until I remove that which is of sin. (Joshua 7:13).
- God’s kindness is to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4), but when that is ignored then His wrath is a wake up call. “Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 5:6).
About our spiritual enemy:
- The spiritual armor includes the Sword of the Lord, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17). With this weapon I come against the enemy as Jesus did — I speak aloud God’s Word with firm confidence: “It is written!”
About our spiritual authority:
- God has given us authority and has given us jobs to do. (Mark 13:34).
- “For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (II Corinthians 10:4).
- “You will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes on you. . .” (Acts 1:8).
About our ability:
- The Holy Spirit enables us to have discernment. (I Corinthians 2:12) By constant use we train ourselves to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14).
- We are able to do all things, having all we need and we abound in every good work, because of God’s grace. (II Corinthians 9:8).
Is God going to hold us accountable?
Are these words of Scripture just old notions for long ago? Are they mere suggestions? Or, are these God’s principles for all time? Do they have power for today?
Just as loving parents provide for their infant God blesses us with many blessings. His gift of salvation is never earned or deserved. But then, He wants us to grow to maturity.
He wants us to know Who He is.
He wants us to know the truth about life.
He wants us to know the truth about trouble.
He wants us to know about prayer, power, deliverance,
victory, joy, success.
Life involves challenge, adventure, opportunity.
There’ll be experiences, enterprises, excitement, risk, danger, delight, fulfillment, love, surprises.
You’ll study, learn, work, travel. You’ll meet people who are nice and helpful, or possibly conniving, cheating or mixed-up and immature.
Growing up spiritually is not automatic. We are to trust and obey the Lord, confess our inadequacies, talk to Him throughout the day, accept responsibilities. To ignore, or deny, or disobey God means we have more to learn, and brings consequences to get our attention.
Does this apply to me?
What will it be? Tough out trouble, then take the credit? Try not to care and look the other way? Talk about it and tip-toe into it tentatively? Or, take a strong stand of spiritual authority?
God calls us to be bold believers, people who know what to do.
Now, what will you do?
by Elaine Hardt ©2006