Why God Makes Us Wait for Answers to Our Prayers?


When we go through various trials, we find ourselves on our knees more. We pray and pray for God to get us through or out of the current difficulty. These trails can also present themselves in the form of longing for something that we don’t have yet.

I knew a couple who prayed for sixteen years for a child and then they finally became pregnant.

I know of a woman who prayed for a husband for well over twelve years. Finally, God graced her with a wonderful man.

I prayed for my uncle to find salvation for nine years and finally he received Jesus as His Lord.

In all of these situations, God was doing a work of spiritual maturity in the lives of those who prayed and waited.

Whether it is a child, a spouse, freedom from debt, salvation for a loved one, or an illness that needs healing, praying for these over a long period can be a trial in itself. Waiting on God to answer can create doubt as we second guess whether what we are asking for is His will; it can even cause us to lose faith if we are not careful.  Waiting for our prayers to be answered can be exhausting and can cause great anxiety. I believe the reason for our exhaustion and anxiety is due to our lack of focus on the right thing.

James tells us, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Sometimes when God does not immediately answer our prayers, He is maturing our faith. He is making our belief in Him stronger; so that we do not lack the ability to lean on His understanding fully. But I’m not convinced that maturity in our faith is the only reason.

The tension is this, if we receive what we ask for too soon, we may forget the Lord and ruin our life. On the other hand, if we have to wait too long for what we are asking God for, we may lose faith, forget the Lord and ruin our life. Being the good Father that He is, God is well aware of this tension. Because He knows the pitfalls we can fall into that we don’t always see, He knows the timing that works best for His children.  The answers to the prayers we ask are more about God developing us than about pleasing us.

Notice what James says, “the testing of your faith produces endurance…endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” What is this maturity that God is doing in our life? What is it that He wants to complete? While faith is one of the things He works on in us, He also develops us in practical ways that equip us for that next stage in our life. Like marriage.

When a man longs for a wife, it can be all that is on his mind. It is like he has tunnel vision and he cannot think of anything else. The problem is when the longing for her supersedes his wish to love God with his all; he unintentionally places a burden on the woman he is seeking. He thinks of her as the one who will meet his need for total satisfaction and happiness. Sadly, she cannot carry this burden. But God can and wants it.

Until this man can fully rely on God for his satisfaction and happiness, he will wait for that woman in his life; especially if he is praying to God for her. God wants more for this man. He wants to equip him to love a woman with a proper devotion, one that serves her not one that serves himself. Only God can be this man’s all in all. Until this maturity is complete, I believe that God will delay the answer to his prayer.

In the meantime, the man endures. This endurance perfects him for God’s answer. Is it easy to wait? No. However, if this man understands the purpose behind the waiting, he will seek maturity more than a wife.

Whatever the scenario is in our life, the maturity process is the priority on God’s agenda. When we can get on board with God’s purpose to complete and perfect us, then and only then will we see answers to our prayers.

How do we know when we have reached that maturity? It’s not the answer to the prayer that tells us this. It’s when our wish for what we are praying for dims in comparison to our desire to please God.  Jesus needs to be more to us and not what we are longing for in our life.

 

 

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No Longer Bound To Sin


Adam, the created son of God, sinned. His sin was bound by time, punishment, and death; for the created is not limitless. Each sin created through the line of Adam requires a mechanical aid for the assent to God’s forgiveness. This forgiveness requires effort to understand and labor to overcome. The way is difficult. God provided grace from the uncreated One – The Son of God.

Jesus comes from the measureless and infinite nature of God, Himself. It is through Him we find grace on top of grace.

Paul shows us this in Romans 5:15, “God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But the grace from God was much greater; many people received God’s gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.”

The word “greater” in this passage is not bigger but infinite. Bigger would indicate there is still limits to His grace. However, God’s grace is measureless.

For example, when sin abounds within you, God’s grace abounds all the more for you. Not because you sin, but because His mercy is superior to your sin. What makes is superior? It knows no bounds! God is not full of mercy; He is infinitely overflowing with it.

To be full is to still have limits. But not with God; in Him, there are no limits. God works outside of the created. His treasures are far beyond what our finite minds can comprehend. But the lack of comprehension does not mean we are unable to experience the wealth of heaven.

When I think of His grace, I am overcome by what I do not deserve. Why, I may ask, do I get to receive this measureless mercy that He brings? Since I do not deserve His mercy, where does His motivation come? It’s His love that prompts His grace.

As A. W. Tozer puts it, “God’s love is measureless. It is more: it is boundless. It has no bounds because it is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God. His love is something He is, and because He is infinite, that love can enfold the whole created world in itself and have room for ten thousand times ten thousand worlds besides.”

Are you caught in a sin? Are you struggling with temptation? Is your guilt getting you down?

God’s endless love is reaching out to you. Your failings do not bind his grace. If you want God bad enough, He will come to you and heal you.

Come now; cast aside the sin that so easily entangles you. Stop looking to your sin, and look to your Savior. No worries that you have committed this sin over and over. No need to fret with guilt about what you deserve. It is no longer about what you deserve;
it’s about God’s measureless love encircling you with His grace. No longer do you need to be frustrated by your human limitations. When you receive God’s much much more, you enter the limitless nature of our loving God. Allow His grace to wipe out your incessant sinning. Freedom is just around the bend.

How to Respond to Trump’s Apology


At the get go, this blog is neither a proposal nor a persuasion to vote for Donald Trump. This blog is so much bigger than voting for him! This blog will challenge you to be the better person in this presidential race and all of your life. If you know how to respond to Donald Trump’s apology for his shameful words spoken about women 11 years ago, then you have learned a practice that will free you from all offenses in your life.

We can all guarantee that offenses will come our way. They are a sure experience! We can count on being insulted, hurt, humiliated, embarrassed and angered by the words and actions of another person. They may come from someone we love, hate, dislike, or even someone we barely know.

When this happens to us, what do we do? How do we respond?

I have read women’s responses of anger and hurt to Donald Trump’s offensive words. And certainly, their response is understandable; I do not challenge their feelings. Donald’ Trump’s words were insensitive, immature, and foolish. They have also conjured up memories of past abuse for these women.

The challenge though is this: I would encourage those who are lashing out against Trump to consider that their past experiences of abuse are not his fault. We can easily displace our anger. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, calls this displacement anger. To displace our anger is to throw all of our wrath and pain from past abuse along with the current words of Trump and set it all on him. We do this unconsciously as we shift blame from our mind onto a new aim or a new object as a way to cope with the pain we are still suffering.

Hear me! There is nothing wrong with being angry and incensed with the words Trump spoke 11 years ago. We should be angry. They were degrading. They dishonored women and their Creator; after all women (and men) are created in God’s Image. Anger in itself is not a sin. To be angry at sin is called righteous anger. However, to be angry with sin is wrong. Ladies, I implore you to consider that casting all the blame for our every hurt and pain we’ve incurred from men onto Trump would be a mistake.

Righteous anger does not displace its wrath. Anger deals with the sin at hand,  instead of all the offenses that have happened over our lifespan. When we deal with the sin at hand, we compose ourselves and are rational with the truth. We consider the situation, the context, and the reasons behind the offense. When we do this, we position ourselves to follow the command Jesus gives us when offenses come.

Take a look at Jesus’ words in Luke 17:1-5, “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.’”

I can almost hear it: “Yes! Throw Trump into the sea with a millstone wrapped around his neck!” I get you! I really do! You would be in the right to say something like that. Obviously, Jesus would agree, too. But hold on, Jesus did not stop there! While Jesus does not argue with you about how you feel or that the offender deserves punishment, He challenges His disciples and us:

“Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” 

Jesus does not dismiss your anger, but He does not want you to remain there. If you do, your anger will only infect you and those in your influence. They won’t infect Trump nor throw him into the sea. While he deserves punishment, Jesus challenges you and me to forgive him.

You see, Donald Trump did repent: Trump’s Apology.

Jesus has challenged us to forgive him. You might be thinking, “But I don’t trust that his apology was sincere.” I get that. But Jesus didn’t say, “trust him,” He said, “forgive him.” And not only once but seven times in a day, which indicates that the person repenting will not be sincere with one of those apologies, and probably not trustworthy for another, or simply will fall short of perfection.

Nonetheless, Jesus still challenges us to forgive him!

One of the hardest things to do for the people of this culture (including Christians) is holding onto grace. Grace forgives someone who doesn’t deserve it. Grace is what Jesus did for you and me on the cross. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

Notice the phrase “while we were still sinners”; in other words, long before repentance came, Jesus still died for you and me making way for grace – forgiveness undeserved!

Just as He has forgiven you and me, we are challenged to forgive others with the same grace He has shown us.

I can hear you say, “This is impossible!” I agree!

And the disciples would have agreed with you, too. You can see their incredulous response in verse 5: “The apostles (disciples) said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!” They knew all too well that it would take faith more than it would take will power to forgive those who had offended them. It will also take faith for you and me to forgive Trump and anyone else in our life that has hurt us with their actions and their words.

You and I are never going to be able to forgive Trump or anyone else without the power of God working through us to do so. It will be Him alone working through us to make this possible.

But we are given two things to do: obey and have faith to follow through.

We have to submit to Jesus’ words to forgive. Most times our forgiveness will not be a feeling; it will be a decision to obey first. In some cases, feelings come after that obedience; in others, depending on the depravity of our situation, feelings may never come, but the peace of God does.

You can have peace knowing three things:

1.) God loves you! “A new command I give you: Love one another; As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

2.) God will fight for you! “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:14).

3.) God can do the impossible; His Kingdom will never be shaken! “We belong to a higher kingdom than this world. And “since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe!” (Hebrews 12:28).

When we choose to forgive others, we gain a holy perspective. We understand the why behind loving God and loving people. Suddenly, our hearts become clay for God to form in His heart’s image. When He hurts, we hurt. When He loves, we love. When He forgives, we forgive. When no one else will follow this pattern of holding onto grace, we do it regardless; because suddenly our God is bigger than our pain and bigger than the offenses we encounter.

#chooseforgivness #findpeace #setyourheartfree

 

 

Trump or Hilary: How to Vote from Two Horrible Choices


When it comes to the 2016 Presidential election, we have two choices: Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. They have their strengths, but they also have grave weaknesses. It seems that these two are the worst of people who could run for this election.

On one side we have Hilary: She is experienced in policy, government, and political correctness. She talks a good game and is very convincing with her presentation. She seems competent and able. Yet, she is a two-faced, vulgar, lying, cheating, murderous woman who has stood by her husband who has humiliated and abused women. If we vote for her, we have put a wicked immoral person in office.

On the other side we have Trump: He is angry at the state of our nation and his refusal to follow the protocol of the political correct leftist has resurrected the most indifferent voter. He has gotten people’s attention. He has surrounded himself with good people who can help him make wise decisions. Yet, he is vulgar, lies, cheats; and is an emotionally unpredictable man. If we vote for him, we have put a wicked immoral person in office.

Let’s face it; if we elect the next president based on their morality and character, we have no good choice. They are both sinful and corrupt. Neither one has the character or spiritual standing for success that qualifies them.

Is there anyone better than these two? Is there anyone who has not sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Maybe you? Maybe me? Nope. Neither. No one has risen above their sinful nature.

It is good to take note: If you or I were running for the office of President, the media would find dirt on us. They would dig out the dustiest skeleton and expose it bright and shiny for the public eye to see, judge, criticize and demean. I shudder at the thought! You and I have the same littered past. It’s true. I would not want to be in their position.

Paul tells us “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). No one reading this can say with full confidence that they have not sinned; “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23). No one is worthy of this position of President, that is, if it depends on their sinless life, godly character and unshakable spirituality. If this is the deciding factor, the only One qualified is Jesus!

These two candidates are not applying for the position of Savior. Let’s not make this position of President higher than God.  Just maybe we are focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to this election. Even God can and will use wicked immoral people to do His bidding.

He used Abraham, a liar. He used Jacob, a deceiver. He used Moses, a murder. He used David, an adulterer. He used Rahab, a prostitute. The Bible is filled with unworthy, immoral and wicked people who accomplished great things for Him. It was not their résumé of godliness that had made the difference; it was the Almighty God’s intervention.

After all, He uses me every day. He uses you too. He did not decide to save me because I’m worthy. If I were hired as Children’s Minister of my church solely based on my sinful past, I would not qualify. I would agree with Paul’s words to Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example of those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16). Praise Jesus for His patience for and mercy  on us! 

The point is, I am the worst of sinners and so are you. There are two differences between us and the running candidates, our sins have not been exposed and theirs has. We cannot judge their qualifications based on their sin. We cannot elect them based on their morality or lack thereof. This cannot be the deciding factor. But the media wants it to be. For they are the devil’s demons who distract, destroy and confuse those (even the elect) from the real principle at hand. And many of us have been hooked and are drowning in the abyss of purposeless squabbles. Don’t be hooked! Vote wisely! Let me show you how you can choose from the worst of two candidates.

After the first hour of the last two debates of Trump and Clinton, I finally gave up watching. I was wasting my time on their incessant bashing of each other. Their debates have been nothing more than a contest between who could one up the other the best. I didn’t want to watch a cat fight. I wanted to know what these two people will do for our country.

The reality is this, no matter who runs for office, they will have sinful and spiritual flaws. Some less and others more, but that is not the deciding factor when it comes to voting for a President.

It’s the policies they support!

I went to the facts (as they both even suggested during the debates.) I wanted to know what they both believed in and what they promised.  I searched for a simply laid out comparison and asked myself:

What did they offer?

Who are they surrounding themselves with to make these decisions?

Which one aligns itself most with the values God has?

What will help this country correct itself and get out of the mess it’s in?

I’m praying over the policies they propose. I believe there is hope for this country, but our hope is not dependent on Trump or Hilary’s morality or their character. Praise God! For if it were, we are sure to fall!

It’s good to remember that regardless of whom sits in the Oval Office, wicked or more wicked, God is still on the throne. We may have a limited or even no choice at hand, but Habakkuk encourages us, “Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no, grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

God is in charge! I’m thankful I can look to Him and seek His face in our most deplorable choice for President! No matter the outcome, God is not bound by Trump or Hilary and their disgraceful past. Nor is He bound by America’s deteriorating future. He can use anyone, change any direction, and make the impossible possible.

With this hope, how can we navigate out of the media and presidential cat fight and choose to focus on what is really best for America?

1.) Weigh the policies that the two candidates propose. Determine which polices support the vision God has for this country. For example: Which protect the constitution, the right to human life, our freedoms, and the national security we all love and enjoy?

2.) Stay away from the media. “Reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23). Listening to the media produces no fruit.

3.) Trust God. Jesus encouraged His disciples at a time that was hopeless to them, “Your  heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1). God is the One who is ultimately in charge: “It is by Me (God) that kings reign and rulers enact just law” (Proverbs 8:15); “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

Believe in God, trust Our Savior as you focus on the policies presented. By the Lord’s direction, you will vote wisely as you choose between two horrible choices.

 

 

 

How to Forgive Without Borders


As Jesus continues to teach His disciples how to be Kingdom followers, He broaches the subject of forgiveness. He tells His disciples that offenses will come. It’s inevitable that we will be offended and that we will offend. After all, we live in a fallen sinful world. We expect that we will sin and fall into traps of many kinds; we will also be sinned against and offended by others. These affronts can come in many forms.

We can hurt or be hurt by the words or actions of a trusted friend or relative.

We can tempt others, or others can tempt us to fall into sin.

Those who pretend to care for us may set traps that cause us to fall. Or we are the ones who park a plank where others can trip.

Maybe a family member keeps falling into sin wreaking havoc on the family. You might be the one who keeps sinning creating all kinds of trouble for those who love you.

There are more we can add to this list. As a matter of fact, I want you to add to this list. I want you to think of that one area where the sins of others have hurt you. Who is that person that has been inflicting trouble in your life? Over and over and over?

You are discouraged. You can’t imagine forgiveness at this point in your relationship. You are so irritated right now with this person who has hurt you; you want nothing to do with them. When this person comes to you and says they are sorry, your thought is “Yeah, right? I don’t believe you.” You might be thinking, “You don’t deserve forgiveness. I don’t feel like giving it to you!” “Just go away and don’t bother me anymore,” might be your deepest desire.

You are not alone. The disciples obviously faced the same struggle. And indeed it was a struggle! For they exclaimed, “Increase our faith” after Jesus told them “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17::3).

You might think, it’s going to take a lot of love to forgive this person who has hurt me and cause such mayhem in my life. But I tell you, it won’t only take love to do this. Love certainly plays its part, but love alone will not help you forgive time and time again. It’s going to take faith. Notice that an increase in love was not what the disciples asked Jesus for; it was an increase in faith.

Warren Wiersbe explains why this is so, “Love motivates us to forgive, but faith activates that forgiveness so that God can use it to work blessings in the lives of his people.” He also goes on to say, “Forgiveness is a test of both our faith and our love.”

It takes so much more than love to forgive others who have hurt us countless times. But like I said earlier, love plays its part. Faith and love do work together.

Where faith hopes for what’s unseen, love refuses to keep a record of wrongs.

Where faith believes that God can change the person, love is patient and endures until that change happens.

Faith is confident that God can do the impossible, whereas love rejoices in this truth.

There are people in our life that are impossible to forgive, or who we doubt will ever change. But with God, all things are possible. Their change is not dependent on our abilities to forgive; it is our faith in God’s abilities that will work through our forgiveness that can make the difference.

I encourage you with two ways that can help you when forgiveness is hard:

1.) Never forget that God forgives you. His forgiveness of your sins was/is undeserved. Where much is given, much is required. You must never forget how you have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

George Hebert writes about the consequences of not forgiving others, “He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he must pass.”

This quote is so similar to the very words of Jesus, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).

To not forget our misgivings keeps us humble, and this humility makes it easier to pardon others for their wrongdoings.

2.) Pray for those who hurt you. We see a running theme that comes from our Savior, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Again we see Jesus challenging us, “you must forgive more than seven times. You must forgive even if wronged seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).

Additionally, confession and prayer are powerful; “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16).

When we sin, confess it; when sinned against, pray for the offender. Our confessions and our prayers bring healing. It’s amazing how cleansing both confession and prayer can be in the life of our relationships!

Our sinful nature places limits on forgiveness. We won’t allow ourselves to cross over those limits if the offense of others is too painful or what we deem is unforgivable. But Jesus calls us to greater faith. He calls us to be Kingdom followers. To be His followers, we must die to our rights and follow Him. Our forgiveness must be without borders. It must go beyond our ability to forgive and allow faith to take us further.

By now you have a person in mind that needs your forgiveness. Who is it? If you are ready to be that Kingdom follower Jesus is asking you to be, pray the following prayer and keep watch for the healing that will come.

Lord, Increase my faith so that your power can work in the life of [name the person] who has hurt me; also work in my heart. Help me to love them with your love and forgive them as you forgive me. Help me, Lord, for this is hard. Give me the awareness of your presence and power in the life of the one I’m choosing to forgive. Give me hope. Show me how to walk in your steps and reject the sinful path I would rather choose. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.