HEART OR HAND?
Have you ever said, or heard someone else saying, “I’m believing God for…” Now there is nothing wrong with believing prayer. In fact,
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
The problem arises when the one who is believing God for something does not get what he wants. Does he become disillusioned, misjudge God as unloving or uncaring and walk away? Oftentimes, he does. Sometimes the answers we get or don’t get tell us more about ourselves than about God.
Israel was fed-up with God. He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, miraculously led them across the Red Sea and taken out the Egyptian army, given them food and water and provided shelter from the extremes of heat and cold. Instead of recognising His love and goodness, they whined about the manna and demanded meat. God gave them so much meat that, in their greedy overindulgence it made them sick. After all His miraculous provision,
They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. In the desert, they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness, they put God to the test. So He gave them what they asked for but sent a wasting disease among them (Psa. 106:13-15).
How terrible to get an answer to prayer like that and what an exposure of their unbelief!
Joshua also found himself in a situation where prayer was a copout for what he should have done. God gave explicit instructions about His strategy for taking the city of Jericho. After the city had fallen, His people were to not to take any spoils because Jericho was His. The firstfruits of their war effort belonged to God.
Achan disregarded God’s instruction, helped himself to clothing and gold, and hid it in his tent, bringing disaster on the whole nation – defeat at Ai and the deaths of 38 men. Joshua fell on his face before God, whiling and blaming God for their failure.
And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! (Josh. 7:7).
Joshua had yet to learn that disobedience to God’s instructions, not God’s unfaithfulness, brought unpleasant consequences on the people.
There has been, over the past few decades, such an emphasis on faith and prosperity in the church that the faces of many of God’s people have turned to God’s hand and not His face. How tragic that many of us have turned God into a celestial “slot machine”! If we push the right buttons, i.e., quote the appropriate Scriptures, we hold God to an obligation to do what we demand. Health and wealth are often the measure of our spirituality. When we don’t get what we expect from God, the really “spiritual” ones blame our defective “faith”.
This is a lie from the pit of hell, not the truth of God’s Word. The overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that our faith is of such value to God that He constantly puts it to the test. He exposes the flaws in our confidence in His perfect love. He wants us always to focus, not on what He can give us, but on who He is. Consider these Scriptures:
My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek (Psa. 27:8).
Look to the Lord and His strength always. Seek His face always (Psa. 105:4).
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14).
To treat God as our heavenly “Santa Claus” is beyond abominable. Read the story of Job. God’s favour on Job prompted Satan to challenge God about His servant Job. “Strip him of all the “blessings” you have lavished on his and then see what he does,” he demanded.
“Go ahead,” God responded, ‘but don’t take his life.” The devil took everything to within an inch of his life. Just as God had anticipated, Job was not as concerned about what he had lost as about why God had acted in this way towards him. He mourned the loss of God’s presence, as one mourns the death of a beloved friend. God was silent and he could not find Him.
If only I knew where I might find Him; if only I could go to His dwelling (Job 23:3).
In the utter darkness of his feelings of abandonment, he never lost faith in His Friend.
Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face (Job 13:15).
It is this kind of faith that God treasures more than the faith that “looks to His hand.” We insult Him when our interest is more in what He can give us or what He can do for us than in the glory of who He is, our Father, our Abba who treasures us as His holy and beloved children. When we trust Him regardless of our circumstances, regardless of whether He answers our prayers the way we anticipate or not, regardless of whether He heals us or not, we honour Him for who He is and we give Him the right to be God in our lives and to give and do what is best for us according to His perfect love.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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