Tag Archives: believe and receive
1. Slow. Confused for a “no,” but God is working on something first before giving the answer.
2. Go. The answer is yes. Do all your part now.
3. No. You don’t want to twist God’s arm into granting you something that you want but He knows is not truly good for you.
4. Grow. Also confused for a “no,” but God first must mature you for the blessing. You wouldn’t be able to sustain the blessing yet.
Praying is like giving birth to something in our lives. But we ought to recognize that prayer, more often than not, is NOT instantaneous. We need to develop maturity to recognize these four answers to prayer.
A smirky non-Christian remarked that praying for money seemed at odds with the gospels. If you’re only greedy, I tend to agree. But when you are desperately trying to make rent for your church building, it’s spot on.
After being chased off by hostile Philistines, Isaac and crew find a place Rehoboth, which means “spacious place.” (Gen. 26:22)
If you’re having troubles, keep moving forward because God is going to bring you to a spacious place. After months (or years) of struggling to make ends meet, God promises to bring you to a spaciousness in your monthly budget. Hallelujah! Victory over the bills!
In Guatemala, we worked 15 hour days during Easter Week hawking food to the crowds in the “processions,” marches which escort Catholic statues through the streets. At the end of ardor, we would count up to $300, just a fraction of our mortgage.
Do your best, and God will provide the rest, I taught. So we labored. And we prayed. And month after month, God miraculously brought in the mortgage money.
Maybe you can relate to Isaac. Look for your Rehoboth. Long and pray for spaciousness.
For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).
I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.
I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.
But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.
When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.
The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!
When we moved into the big, colonial building just off Guatemala City‘s main square, we had to remove a 70+ year-old tree with a termite-hollowed trunk. If not, tons of branches would one day fall on the kids in the school.
City workers took down most but left the stump and roots. We didn’t even have a chain saw, so we got to work with machetes, an axe and a pick. It took us church members two months of 12-hour days to chop, dig, pry, whittle, pull and otherwise extract it. The patio now has a nice fountain and garden in its place.
As a gringo, I may not have the best machete technique, but it seemed like a fun, macho-man thing to do, at least at first. The sweat dripped after only minutes of whacking. Some of the men went through blistered into bloodied hands from the work. I was too much of a wimp to bloody my hands.
Boo-hoo! There has to be an easier, more efficient way!
There was. It’s called power tools. But as I said before, we didn’t have any power tools.
Now, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, you have at your disposal power tools. It’s called prayer. It’s a power tool because it’s God’s power at work for you. But some people like doing all the work themselves, so they don’t pray.
As an estate planner formerly, my pastor would counsel people how to handle their retirement money: Give it all to your children now, before you die, because if you wait, the government is going to get a bunch of it.
As much as people didn’t want Uncle Sam to gobble his unfair share, they would always balk. They want to make sure they have enough in case they get sick. Or whatever. Inevitably, the IRS trundles away with the kids’ inheritance.
There is a lesson for us Christians: don’t hold back on giving to God. Only what you give is credited to your account in Heaven. Don’t wait for another day, a better offer, a wider safety margin. Because the devil is going for his oversized slice of the pie. Give it recklessly (that is, with faith). Throw caution to the wind and your money to the offering plate. God is able to keep you from the rainy day for which you are saving.
The first instance of confession-prophecy was when the Israelites complained to Moses that God had brought them out of Egypt only to die and not inherit the Promise Land. God responded: So be it; your negative confession shall be a prophecy.
As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say: In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me — Numbers 14:28-29 NIV.
But the principle works both ways. If negative words could lead to bad, positive words would also be honored by God. So in Jesus’ time, if you confessed faith in Jesus, He healed you. The proverbist said: Death and life are in the power of the tongue — Prov. 18:21 KJV.
When you pray today, make a positive confession.
If you’re facing potential devastation right now, you are in line to receive a miracle today! Praise God for your problem, however big it may be, because it is only a prelude to His power.
We ought to seek miracles! They manifest God’s glory. They shut up the atheist. They’re undeniable. God wants to do miracles. But we must reinvigorate our faith to seek them — just like heat-seeking missiles.
There’s an advocacy of this: The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me — John 10:25 NIV. The best apologetics don’t compare to a brush with the Supernatural God. Hunger for miracles. Don’t fear problems because God is only setting up a miracle opportunity that will make your ministry grow!
The disciples tried but could not dislodge the demon. The epileptic’s father is unsure if Jesus, who just descended the mount, will be able where others failed. Wavering, he addresses the Lord: “IF you can do anything…”
This struggling faith does not sit particularly well with Jesus, who chides him. The man quickly realizes his mistake and musters faith: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — Mark 9:24 NIV.
Struggling faith always comes up short. Stubborn faith is an unmoved confidence that God will perform His promises. Struggling faith is somewhat convinced that God MAY do something. Stubborn faith “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” — Heb. 11:1 NIV.
Struggling faith almost never gets a miracle. Stubborn faith impresses God so much that He is pleased: “Great is your faith!”
Most of us struggle to have more faith. We need the same sincerity of this man: I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Trying is doing, putting effort is achieving. Jesus was pleased with this man’s attempt to shore up his struggling faith.
I make plans for God. I pray for Him to do what I want, when I want. Then He does something totally different, and it’s always much better. It’s a miracle that I could not imagine. This pattern is Biblical: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV
Go ahead and pray for the good things you want. But be prepared to wait for His timing. Be prepared for His answer, which may be very different — and inevitably better — than what you hoped for. We are praying to a God who surprises us. He pulls the most amazing things out of His hat.
Surprise me today, God. I bring before you my desperate needs. Don’t give me the answer I want. Give me the surprise You have for me. God´s surprise makes being a Christian a lot of fun! I imagine God our Father being very much like a loving earthly father, who is thrilled to see his son/daughter delighted by a surprise gift.
When the small task force in charge of protecting Gen. MacArthur‘s rearguard found itself surprised by the Japanese Center Force in Leyte Gulf on Oct. 23, 1944, they didn’t expect to win. Twenty-seven Japanese warships — including the largest battleship ever made, the fearsome Yamato — bore down on Taffy 3 U.S. Task Force to blast landed U.S. troop like sitting ducks.
The U.S., who didn’t expect the enemy to appear on the horizon, left land forces protected only by planes with depth charges and destroyers so light they were called “tin cans.”
First they set up smoke screens to mask the retreat of U.S. aircraft carriers. While these light destroyers were doing this, Capt. Evans of the U.S.S. Johnston, without orders, broke ranks and charged the approaching ships on a torpedo run. Other ships watched incredulous what would surely be a suicide mission.
But the Johnston miraculously wasn’t hit as 27 Japanese ships trained their guns on it. It sailed to within five miles, fired its torpedoes, and scored a hit on enemy forces. Seeing this, other U.S. destroyers became brave to enter the fray. When the battle was over, the vastly superior
Japanese fleet retreated, American troops were safe, and history was written. The “greatest mismatch of naval history” was won by the underdogs.
Does this describe your church? You’re attacking futilely an enemy so large and fierce. You feel outgunned, outmanned, and outsmarted. You’re out-financed. You have practically no finances. Well, certainly not enough finances. But you have one potent weapon: daring.
You dare to continue serving the Lord. Finances are down to a trickle. Make a prayer run to torpedo the enemy and save the day!
Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace! — Neh. 2:17 New Living Translation
Maybe you can relate to Nehemiah. He had the insurmountable challenge of rebuilding Jerusalem´s wall — with no money.
No cranes. No engineers. No bulldozers. No blueprints. No workers. NO RESOURCES.
All he had was a bunch of rocks, stones strewn everywhere, the tragic remains of Nebachadnezzar´s siege nearly 100 years earlier.The graceful wall of defense, once a wonder of ancient architecture, lay broken, a demolition job that embarrassed Jerusalemites. Not only did it remind them of past failures, it was present day eyesore and heartsore for the once proud inhabitants. Thieves and enemies could penetrate and wreak havoc in the city at will.
All Nehemiah had was will power.
So he prayed. And God did the impossible in response. Jerusalems´s men let their hearts be stirred and their hands set to action. They erected the wall in record time and restored dignity to the city.
The project before you is impossibly big. You yearn to extend the kingdom of God, but “financial realiteis” tell you to scale back your dreams. Instead, ramp up those dreams in prayer. If Nehemiah´s task was daunting, his testimony should encourage you. Let God do the same in your life that He did in Nehemiah´s. Be a rubble raiser!