"Didn't I tell you, that if you believe you will see the glory of God?"
There are many circumstances in life where we pray and nothing seems to happen; like God is doing Nothing!
This is what was happening to Martha and Mary, who believed in Jesus, had seen His miracles, and yet when they prayed for their brother, Lazarus, Jesus didn't come. He remained. He did not move, and Lazarus died. In verses 5 & 6 it says that Jesus loved Martha & Mary, but he didn't move. Have you ever felt like that? you need God to move, and nothing!
Jesus said in verse 4 that Lazarus suffering and death would bring glory to God and to Himself. Jesus knew something that Martha and Mary didn't know.
Jesus had gone before them though, He prepared them by instructing them to simply "Believe". Believe, in what? In HIM! His perfect character. love, mercy and grace.
This is still what Jesus is saying to those who call Him as savior. When things happen that you don't understand, just believe in Him, who He is, and not in what you see.
A Lack of Movement on God's part does not equate to a Lack of Love for us on God's part. He is Faithful because He can be nothing else.
"And lead us NOT into Temptation, but Deliver us from Evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Don't you wish that God would keep testing and temptation away from you? Don't you hate the struggle and (sometimes) the failures the follow? I know I do.
Wouldn't it be great if you could just ask God to keep this stuff away? Guess what; We Can!!
Jesus gave us a model prayer that begins by teaching us to meditate on the majesty and love of our Heavenly Father, who is holy, and in whom is ALL power and authority. In recognition of His lovingkindness and power, we then are drawn into a submissive posture to our Father and King, asking that His agenda be established in our lives on Earth just like it is in Heaven. Remembering that His relationship to us is as a Loving Father, who has not only the wisdom to know what is good for us, but the ability to accomplish it as well. That is a great way to boost our faith before we ask for God's help in all areas of our life.
He gives us permission to ask for the Father's provision of our basic needs in life. He reminds us that while He is forgiving, and full of mercy, we must also be forgiving and full mercy to others.
Now for a lot of us our prayers generally center on asking the Father to provide, not only for our basic needs, but for our desires as well. The Bible teaches us that when our heart is so inclined to God that He is our delight, that He WILL give us the desires of our hearts. That's because all we care about is what God cares about; His Will, His Glory.
But how about verse 13 in Matthew chapter 6? Jesus includes, in His model prayer, the directive that we should be asking the Father to steer us clear of temptations. The word "temptation" means "an experiment, trial, proving, of one's character, faith and holiness".
Is it possible that many of the things we endure could be avoided through submission to the Father in prayer? Could it be that communion with the Father does for our character what unnecessary trials may? Perhaps it is the difference between learning that comes by seeking, and heeding good advice as opposed to learning through the "School of Hard Knocks"?
We are promised that we will suffer persecution for HIS NAME'S SAKE; but most of what the average believer struggles against is not as much the result of clashing with the kingdom of darkness while advancing the Gospel as it is against the sinful nature and undiscipline flesh.
The latter struggle does nothing to advance the kingdom, but is nonetheless draining, while the former advances the Gospel of the Kingdom, while forging a strengthened and deepening faith as the Father is Glorified through our lives.
If we are going to struggle, let our struggle be for the Glory of the Father and the advance of the Kingdom of God. Submitting to prayer (dialogue) with the Father, combined with fellowship with the Word of God, can steer us clear of fruitless struggles, and toward a fruitful life of faith.
"Go and tell David my servant...Thou shalt NOT build me an house to DWELL in: For I have NOT dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wheresoever I have Walked WITH all Israel, spake I a word...saying, 'Why have he not built me an house of cedars?"
1 Chronicles 17:4-6 (portions)
Presume - "To think that something is true without knowing that it is true; to do something that you do not have the right or permission to do." (Merriam-Webster)
One who presumes is Presumptuous. Have you ever been presumptuous? Have you ever assumed something to be true that wasn't, or done something you'd not gotten permission to do? Probably so, we all have.
It seemed like a good idea. Building a Church for God, and not just any church, but something with all the bells and whistles. Using only the best materials and craftsmen, no shortcuts. It would be the envy of all, everyone would love and stand in awe of it.
It wasn't just David's presumtion, Nathan, God's prophet, who was supposed to speak only God's will for David, his king, said "do what is in your heart". Nathan didn't consult God; after all what could be wrong with going to such lengths to do something "good" for God?
But God stopped them both in their tracks. Not every "good" idea is a God idea. What David had in mind to do would cause the world to stand in awe, how is that bad?
Like David, we, the Church, the Bride of Christ, can be presumptuous, launching out doing the good things that seem right not only to us, but to almost everyone around us. But, are we doing the desires of our Father's heart, or just ours? God, in so many words said, "when have you ever heard me say 'I want you to build me a house?" He said "I've never lived in a house, but have gone from tent to tent as I've 'walked' with you."
What was important to God was "walking with His people", sharing everyday life with them. With God it's all about the journey. With us it's all often all about the destination. God's desire was to be Present with His people, with them aware of His presence and entertaining Him. But the people just wanted to get where they were going, they didn't care about His presence, they just wanted to arrive.
Without realizing it, and even though he had a heart after God, David was trying to put God in a box; like a kennel, where he could work his agenda, and then when it's convenient for him, he could go an check in with God. Does this seem familiar? For many this is what their relationship with God has come to. They do what they think God would like all week, without regarding His Presence, and then come to the Kennel (Church) on the weekend to check in with Him.
This is what much of modern church has become. We've built large buildings, developed expansive ministries, funneled millions of dollars to the homeless and needy of the world, just like He said to do, right?
Nothing is wrong with those things we do for Him, until we value our Presentations, more than His Presence. God wants us, not what we do for Him.
If God only cared about what we did for Him, He would have created us and then just stayed in Heaven at a distance. But He has always shown up here, on earth, where we live. From the beginning in creation, before Adam and Eve chose the serpant over Him, and then again, in the person of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, he came.
After Jesus ascended back to the Father, He did not leave us alone. In the Gospel of John chapter 14 and verse 16 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" God is STILL PRESENT. For those who belong to Christ, He not just With us, or Near us, He Is In Us!!
A TIPPING POINT?
We may just need to be willing to stop everything that we are doing, and focus on His presence, and then let Him tell us what ministry/works He wants us to do. I think that we'd find that He is not as concerned about what we do, as that we do it with Him.
I know of a church, with a courageous pastor and leadership team, who did just that. It cost them about one half of their congregation, but those who've remained are more interested in God, than what they can present to Him. By the way, their finances held steady after they chose God and His presence, at the cost of half of their congregation.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, Jesus was in the temple teaching on the Sabbath. They had seen his powerful miracles, and now they were hearing His powerful words. They were being moved by the powerful presence of Christ. They were at a tipping point, and heading in the right direction. They were having a divine visitation and were marveling, which by the way IS the appropriate response.
Then something happened. They turned their focus onto Familiar Jesus, not the Jesus that was being revealed to them, right before their very eyes. The Jesus who was the son of a mere carpenter, and whose sisters were among the people right then. All of sudden all they saw was the Familiar Jesus, the common everyday, ordinary, run of the mill mortal they'd always known.
There is a saying "Familiarity breeds contempt". How did Jesus become "common" to them? They lived around him everyday, but just didn't pay any particular attention to him. This is how He becomes common to us as well. We must regularly pause, and encounter His presence, intentionally, everyday. Thinking about who He is and what He's done, allowing awe and wonder to rise up within us.
The failure to allow themselves to stand in awe of Christ, letting Him become uncommon/unfamiliar, marvelling at the Christ He was revealing to them, cost them the release of His miraculous power in their lives, in their city.
When you choose His presence, you get His power too.
"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."
"16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
"6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God."
Hope is under attack in the world; True Hope that is. Yes, there is more than one brand of hope; that which is True and that which is False.
Let's talk about False Hope first. The "Urban Dictionary" defines False hope like this: "To look forward to something happening to you that has a strong chance of not happening, and you may or may not know it."
Not all hope is the same. There is that which is True, and that which is False. In this age of "Moral Relativism", where we foolishly try to believe that there are no absolutes (which is, by the way, an absolute-ironic) we are set up for disappointment and failure. Without moral absolutes, truth is subjective, with no definitive origins, elusive, if not nearly impossible to find.
This denial of definitive moral law, is to deny that there is a law-giver (God). This reasoning is born out of the sinful nature of mankind and is the key to Unhappiness, Joylessness, and total Unfulfillment. You cannot deny the one who created you and deny His ways and find happiness, joy, fulfillment, and least of all, hope.
False hope is all that this world, and all of its philosophies, can offer.
Now, let's talk about True Hope. True Hope is hope based on that which is true; it never disappoints. Paul, in his letter to the Romans said it like this;
"And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners." Romans 5:5-6
What hope was Paul talking about? He said it in the sixth verse; Christ Came. When Christ came, He said of Himself "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life...". In the Gospel of John, the first chapter, it says "In the beginning was the Word, and the was with God, and the Word WAS GOD...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus Christ is Truth, and He is God.
True Hope cannot be found anywhere other than in Christ, because He IS Truth.
So, whatever else is Pre-occupying your thoughts, your passions, your life, put it aside and Set Your Mind on the Truth, Jesus Christ and His promises and His ways. Then you will have found True Hope that will NOT disappoint you.