Answered Prayer and Judgment

Most people consider having a prayer answered just the way they wanted as a blessing, a gift from God and a sure reason to praise Him.

Few consider that perhaps God giving you what you want was a judgment.

And he gave them their request;
but sent leanness into their soul.

The context is Israel in the wilderness whining and God providing, and yet judging them at the same time, ultimately wiping out an entire generation.

Did they get fed? Yup, did they provoke God to anger? Yup, did they die? Yup.

God is faithful to answer prayer that meets His parameters, but He may also answer other prayers, and He might answer them just the way you want.

This is chalked up as a sign of great spirituality, doubt we consider the flip side as much. Perhaps we should. But most of us don’t have to worry about it because God never does anything with our prayer anyway.

At least rebellious Israel prayed.

Worship and The IRS

Everyone who plays with Christianity believes they worship God. Of course we do, we sing songs at church, duh!

But worship is bigger than being forced to sing for ten minutes on a Sunday morning, or 45 minutes depending on what church you go to.

Worship, according to Romans 12:1, is presenting your body as a living sacrifice. God calls for the whole body, why? Because your whole body has been bought with a price and you are not your own.

This is not unreasonable either, because God is merciful it makes sense to give your body to Him, He’s a good God, why not? It’s stupid not to give your body to Him.

However, giving your body to Him means you have to stop using your body to do what you want it to do, which is a real bummer to your fleshly minded body. So, instead we compromise.

I won’t give Him the whole thing, but he can have a few bits of my body, whatever bits I’m probably tired of anyway.

But true worship means giving Him the whole thing all the time, not just your mouth on Sunday morning for ten minutes. Generally, we give God the energy we have left, the time we have left, the money we have left, we give Him the leftovers.

Try treating the IRS the way you treat God. Only give the government what you have left after the year that you haven’t used elsewhere, just like how you give to God. Try it.

Is God not worthy of more honor than the IRS?

Laughing At Bad Guys

Stories often show evil people laughing at the sufferings of their enemies. We’re all familiar with the evil laugh that ends many a movie scene. It’s overplayed to the point of this brilliant spoof of what if the scene went on?

Evil laughter is, well, evil. It’s a celebration of unchecked power and control. The evil one is invincible!

One of the ideas about God in the Bible that I enjoy the most is that God laughs at His enemies. Here’s one example from Psalms:

“The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The LORD shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.”

This is no Dr. Evil laugh, this is the laugh of one who has unchecked power and control, and yet is also good and against evil. When He laughs, all the righteous laugh with Him.

Just prior to these verses is the phrase, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” which Jesus made famous in the Beatitudes. Meekness means letting God take care of bad guys.

Relax, fret not over evil doers. God will set things right. A main reason why the meek let God take care of bad guys is because the meek also hunger and thirst after righteousness.

They desire God to set things right so desperately, and they know full well that the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. The meek sit back and take the grief, and laugh with their God who will set all things right.

Experience, Being Old and Faith

Job’s friends get lots of heat from Christians, but if you read the book, one thing you must admit is that his friends are right, generally speaking. They are going on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”

This theme is correct, as so stated in other parts of Scripture. At the same time, God being who He is, can make exceptions! You reap what you sow most of the time. Sometimes unrighteous people get sunshine.

Job’s friends get in trouble because they present the facts as if there is no other explanation. They play God and level a verdict. Most other circumstances, they would be right.

Not only are they fairly consistent with Scripture (don’t forget that Job’s friends have cross references by many of their statements), they are consistent with observations of life. They even say:

With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.”

They have the old guys on their side. Old guys agree, they’ve seen this, this is how life works. The older we get the more experiences we get, the more we assume we know and we state things matter of factly.

Youngsters don’t have a clue. And yet, the only one of Job’s friends who didn’t get in trouble with God was Elihu, the youngest one.

Experiences lead to generalizations, stereotypes and pigeon holing. This isn’t always bad, but it can destroy faith.

–We’ve seen a whole track record of God not answering prayer, so we don’t believe prayer does anything.

–We’ve seen unrighteous people do well and righteous people suffer, so we doubt God truly loves and provides for His people.

–We’ve seen people die and have diseases so we don’t think God heals.

–We’ve seen people turn their backs on the Bible so we assume preaching the Word is dumb and we entertain instead.

All our experiences may indeed be true, they did happen, but as soon as you let these experiences trump God and faith in His promises, then your oldness has destroyed childlike faith.

Humanism and Embracing Death

There’s a guy in Christian ministry who I read some stuff by who has recently entered into full-time speaking all over the place. Unfortunately, much of his Christian content is going away and being replaced by self-help guruishness.

In fact, his focus is now on promoting a Christian humanism that keeps people being self-centered and yet convinced their selfishness is serving God.

He is speaking at a conference whose theme question is “What do you want to do when you are 100?”

His answer is: develop a life plan to guarantee you will accomplish all your goals. I find this tragic that a Christian speaker is helping people think that life here is the point.

My answer to “what do you want to do when you are 100” is: I want to have been dead and in heaven for at least 30 years by then. I want to have put off all fear of death and completely abandoned myself to Jesus Christ.

If that’s the kind of goal this guy is talking about, then more power to him. But I know what goals he’s talking about, the same ones he now talks about every day: furthering your career, making money, making contacts, being a better speaker, etc.

I just want to be dead before 100. I have no desire at all, whatsoever, in any way to stick around here another 60 years. None. Zero.

I believe Christ has set me free, and I mourn over the fact that Christians, instead of taking this as an opportunity to invite people to embrace death by dying early at the cross, it is taken to advance humanism and make a mockery of Scripture.

Christ died that “he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Wanting to live to 100 is living in bondage to death. It’s causing you to be self-centered and would never lead you to “die daily” as Paul says we would. Humanism is driven by the fear of death.

The truth sets free. Christ is the truth. Die and be free.

Grace, Respect of Persons and Pet Doctrines

Obviously, saying that grace does not mean “undeserved favor” is not going to go over big in our day. We’ve been bludgeoned with this definition and to go against it seems to go against the very Word of God itself.

Except that the Word of God never defines grace this way. Surely no one would ever claim to deserve God’s grace, but we’ve taken this definition to mean there is nothing you do for God’s grace.

“If we do something to get it that’s works and thus no more grace. God then owes us grace based on what we did,” is the objection. But I object to that objection.

God is the one who dispenses grace, and has, in fact, shown grace to everyone, as the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men, regardless of who they are. Grace has to be available to all or else God is a respecter of persons.

God does not dispense grace on a whim. Oh, I know, God says “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is true. God, being the dispenser of grace, decides who gets it.

And the rest of the Bible that was written to us by God as much as Romans 9:15, says that God gives grace to those who humbly receive it by faith.

Humbly receiving God’s grace is not doing a work, it’s not earning grace, it’s not deserving grace, it’s merely taking grace the only way God says His grace can be taken.

Allowing the “respect of persons” to help us define “grace” causes problems for two groups of people, both of which I’m sure I’ve heard from since bringing this up!

1) Anyone who believes in Irresistable Grace–If God foists His grace upon people for no reason, merely His whim, then God is a respecter of persons. He shows favor to people based on a predisposed feeling of favor based on nothing.

2) Anyone who thinks grace means no obedience–humbly receiving grace by faith implies submission and obedience. A disobedient person is not humble. Ever. God gives grace to those who want it, and you show your desire by your humility and desire to obey God.

The Bible does not use the word “grace” the way we do. We might as well face that point and deal with it rather than playing games and devising definitions that make us feel better about ourselves.