I know we may be expecting some great systematic process to handling unanswered prayer. It would be nice if there was some great revelation that helped us understand why prayer life seems so ineffective. Truthfully, the key, I think, revolves the purpose of our prayer life. Much of the time we have put more faith in our prayer than we have the Lord. We have got so caught up in the results that we have forgot that prayer is about a relationship with the Lord. Unanswered prayer should not drive us away from the Lord but it should cause us to a deeper relationship with the Lord. I have determined that if we based our marriages on the same basis of our prayer results then nobody would stay married. We do not stay with our spouses because the of what they give us or do not give us, we stay because we love them. If we are not expecting results from our spouses then we should not expect results like this from God. Prayer is not about gaining answers it is about dependence, delight and devotion. I hope you gain some perspective as you study this week’s material.
John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
John 14 has become one of my favorite passages lately. I have began to understand what Jesus was teaching his disciples over the past few months. I have come to realize that Jesus was trying to comfort His disciples prior to what they were about to actually experience. In the context of John 14, Jesus started to tell His disciples that He was going to be leaving. Well this made the disciples very uneasy. It is kind of like a teacher being out on the day you are going to take a test. A test is already stressful enough, but a test without the presence of a teacher can send a person right over the edge, at least it would for me. Jesus was telling the disciples about what they would experience and what they were going to be able to accomplish, and then He tells them He is leaving. I get the stress and anxiety the disciples were feeling during this moment. However, Jesus assures them of the fact that He will not leave them comfortless. He is actually going to send “another Comforter” that will not only abide with them but He will abide “in” them. Christ through His Spirit will dwell in them, and it will be His Spirit that will provide comfort during times of trouble, crisis, and tragedy.
He assures His disciples that the Comforter will be real good at His job. As we read John 14 we are given some key promises regarding the Comforter and what He will do:
- John 14:26 – He will teach you all things. He will be the greatest of instructors. He will never not know the answer. The Comforter will teach us what we need to know regarding the current circumstances we are experiencing.
- John 14:26 – He will bring all things to remembrance. The Comforter will remind us of lessons that have been previously taught. There have been times when God has taught me lessons through the messages of others. Sometimes it didn’t mean much at the present moment. However, when I needed it, I was reminded of the message. That is the Comforter reminding me of the truth I had previously forgotten.
- John 14:27 – My peace I give unto you. The Comforter is a peace maker. There are many moments where He will step out on the bow of your ship and say, “Peace be still.”
Otherwise, He is living up to His name: “Comforter.” When we are weak, He will come beside us and hold us up. When we are falling apart, His strong, long arms will hold us together. When we are afraid, He will help us tap into a level of faith that will get us through.
Just recently I experienced a situation that broke me into a million pieces. Within an hour timeframe one of my best friends and his wife lost a 28 week old baby. While driving to the hospital to be with them my mom called thinking my dad had experienced a stroke. An hour later I was on the phone with my friend while watching my dad being carted into the ER at a local hospital. I was trying to be an encourager to a friend while reminding myself to trust the Lord at the same time. I was hurting severely for my precious friends and scared that I would never see my dad again this side of eternity. When I got off the phone, I sat down in a cold parking lot of the ER on the curb and started to cry. Then all of a sudden 2 Timothy 4:17 came to my mind: “…the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” Honestly, I collapsed on the curb and was asking God how I was going to manage this and be a friend as well as a good pastor. I was stressed, scared, weak, and a little angry. Then that verse came alive, and it was almost immediately that I felt a warmth in the cold that no amount of cloth could offer. It was as though I had no strength but something picked me up off that curb. Something wiped my tears for me. Something encouraged me to believe even though I could not see. That something happened to be a someone. That someone was the promised Comforter. I am forever thankful for Him doing His job on a cold desperate night.
He is real folks. I hope and pray He dwells in you. The same God that is in you is the same God that will be with you. Really, a God that is in you has no other choice but to be with you.
Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Over the past several months I have been more observant than outspoken, not to say that I have not voiced my opinion or thoughts about this COVID-19 pandemic that is so globally widespread. I want to spend some time sharing my heart. I am hoping that in the midst of this I can shine light on what I believe the scripture teaches regarding this.
I have no doubt that COVID-19 is real. At this time the virus has made its way into almost every home. Some have suffered minor symptoms, some have become extremely sick, and regretfully some have died. I have watched the world, especially America go into turmoil over this virus. I have seen it divide our country in ways that we could never imagine. I have seen this virus shut down businesses, schools, and sporting events. It has truly affected the way everyone now lives their lives. I truly believe it is a real virus and it is here to stay.
I also have no doubt that this virus was created by the hands of some very evil people. Regardless of how the media spins it, China had a major part in this pandemic. My personal belief is that the liberal agenda of this country worked hand in hand with China to bring this virus into the country in order to move our Republic under a more socialistic and even communist country. I want to emphasize that this is my personal belief. This verse tells us that while we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we should fear no evil. Please understand evil is playing its hand in the midst of these days. I have heard the quote from some high powers in governmental positions: “never let a good pandemic go to waste.” We are seeing an evil agenda pass through this land that is unlike anything we have ever encountered in our past. The scariest thing is how deceived we have become. It is like our entire country has become a frog in water. The government is using this pandemic as a platform to take control. Political or not, we need to realize that there is a severe attack coming on the Church in America. Not only are our constitutional rights hanging in the balance, but our entire way of life is being threatened by those that want the government to control our way of life. Personally, I prefer freedom, but that is just me.
Regardless of how a person views this pandemic we must realize that we are certainly in the process of walking through valley of the shadow of death. The Psalmist tell us that while we walk through this valley we do not need to fear evil. That is such a hard concept to imagine when you start to examine the means and extremes of evil. We need to realize that fear never comes from the Lord and that it truly is a “spirit” that can take control of any of us. As we walk through such valleys I want to share some verses that God has given me during these uncertain and fearful times:
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Psalms 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
I think it is good to understand that non of this is a juggling act to the Lord. We are seeing some very severe results (wages) of what sin does to the world. God has not lost control. We are to ultimately answer to Him and to Him alone. We have to realize that God is preparing for a major take over of His own and I truly believe the time is getting nearer than ever before. We need to make sure we are operating with urgency in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we also need to make sure we are putting our trust in God rather than the skills, sovereignty, and science of humanity. Man will lead us down the wrong path. God will always lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I truly do not believe we understand the definitive results of sin. Death is a result of sin. People seem to overlook the realization of what happened in the garden following the fall. God told Adam that if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil the results would surely be death. Death is the cost or “wage” of sin. The severity and finality of death should help us understand God’s true feelings toward sin. When Adam sinned then death passed upon every person. Death became a certainty for every human in the known world from that point forward.
Cancer, disease, viral infections, murder, hunger, starvation, and other horrific forms of death are all results of sin. Please understand that if this is the result of sin then it should give us all a good idea of how God views sin. You might be thinking this is a little extreme for just one simple mistake. Please take a moment to consider the grace that God has extended through all this. He created man in His image, placed him in a perfect utopia without any knowledge of good or evil, and gave him one command. Man disobeyed that command and rather than dying immediately God came into the garden, killed an animal to clothe man’s nakedness, and created a redemptive plan to restore humanity back to himself through the death, burial, and resurrection of his own Son, Jesus Christ. I tend to believe that as horrific of a thing such as death is it could have been a lot worse.
When sin entered into the world it also created a decaying effect. While the world is slowly deteriorating, death becomes more and more severe. Life is now one of the most uncertain experiences on earth. We have to make our election and calling of God sure. We have to run our race effectively. We have to make the most of this life. It is but a vapor that appears for a moment and vanishes away.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Why? This seems to be a logical question? As a pastor, I encounter this question a lot. I wish people understood that even the most spiritual of leaders are constantly struggling with the same question. Learning how to understand the ways and reasoning of God is way more complicated than the human mind can imagine. This one passage of scripture gives us the ability to begin to wrap our hearts and minds around this one question: why?
When asked “why?” the only way to respond is, “I honestly do not know.” The thoughts and ways of God are not like ours. We often look at the question of why in a sense of what happens when bad things happen to seemingly good people. We must remind ourselves that the same question could be asked in accordance to God’s sacrificial love. For example, why would God sacrifice His only Son in order to rescue and redeem a world that rejected Him? You have to understand that the ways and plans of God are far greater than imaginable from both perspectives.
The only thing we can know with certainty is that God does not think like we think. Honestly, is that a good thing? I mean if God thought like we thought then lightning would be way more deadly. If God thought like we thought then He would hold grudges, hate, and become very vindictive. Thankfully, God does not think like we think. He is not contaminated with sin. Therefore, His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts and his ways much more higher. Think deeply upon this for a minute. We can only see and think in one dimension. Our vision is at best 20-20. God’s vision is eternal. We have to understand that while we only see what we can see at the present moment God can see far beyond the moment.
It is not wrong to ask God why. I have often wondered that if we had the answer to why if it would make us feel better. It is my prayer that we (me included) would come to a place where we realize that God just has a higher, holier, and sometimes hidden perspective that we may not understand until we see things in light of eternity.
This week will look at the importance of giving biblical answers for difficult questions. If we are to believe the Bible is relevant, we must be willing to search scriptures and content for the faith. This week we will see scripture that show us the need to study and find answers using scripture. It is the idea of seeing the world through the lens of scripture.
Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Read this very carefully. The Lord teaches us the necessity of human involvement when it comes to God’s plan of salvation. We see the end result at the beginning of this series of questions. We want to see people call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. How does that happen? Paul begins to think backwards in a logical format in order to see the necessity of our evangelistic and discipleship principles. Let’s break this down so that you can see it systematically:
- The goal is for people to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
- People will not call upon the Lord unless they first believe. Without faith there is no approach to the Lord.
- They cannot believe something they have never heard. If someone does not hear the gospel then how can they believe it. If they cannot believe it then how in the world are they going to call upon the Lord?
- How are they going to hear without a preacher? Basically, if there is no one proclaiming the gospel then they cannot hear it. If they cannot hear it then they cannot believe it, and if they cannot believe it then they are not going to call upon the Lord.
- How are they going to preach unless they are sent? If we are not equipping people with the ability to proclaim it then they are not going to be able to properly proclaim it. If they never say anything about it then they cannot hear it. If they never hear it they cannot believe it. If they never believe then they will never call upon the name of the Lord. If they do not call upon Him then they will never be saved.
Do you now see the responsibility of the Christian? If people do not hear it then it will not be able to happen. We are living in a time where people are turning away from truth. We are living in a time where people are in desperate need of the gospel. The conditions are right and the time is now!
Over the past week people have experienced anxiety, confusion, and even certain levels of fear. Regardless of the political party there is a spirit of unrest and division running across our land. We need to keep in mind that the spiritual and social conditions of our country does not change the responsibility of the individual Christian. We are commanded to preach the Word both in season and out of season. The only true change comes through experiencing the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you study this week, please consider the sense of urgency we need to implement.