Audacious means to show a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks. To have audacious faith is the willingness to believe God’s promises no matter the circumstances. God did not create you to be ordinary or complacent. You need to step up, step out and step into your purpose. And when you do this, expect some resistance in many forms but this is what you do: activate your audacious and persistent faith.
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT2)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Mark 11:22-24 (NLT2)22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Audacious faith is the kind of faith that Joshua had when he prayed and asked God to make the sun stop in the sky until the Israelite army defeated the Amorites.
Joshua 10:12-14 (NLT2)12 On the day the LORD gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the LORD in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day!
The Perhaps Paradox
Excerpts from the YouVersion Reading Plan Sun Stand Still Devotional by Steven Furtick (Edits mine).
If you'’re not daring to believe God for the impossible... you'’re sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life. And further still, if the size of your vision for your life isn't intimidating to you, there’'s a good chance it’'s insulting to God. You should be living by audacious faith every day. Audacity is not just for “elite Christians.” It’'s intended for every believer. So today we’'re beginning a spiritual journey toward trusting God for what seems impossible. I'’m thrilled to think about what it’s going to do for our lives and our world.
1 Samuel 14:1-15 (NLT2)1 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron.3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the LORD who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh.5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba.6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us.9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them.10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the LORD’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!”12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” “Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the LORD will help us defeat them!”13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them.14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
The army of King Saul has been locked in a standoff against the Philistines. And Jonathan, the king’'s son, has become so aggravated with the inaction of his fellow warriors that he decides to make a bold move. He enlists his armor bearer to join him on a two-man commando raid.
His battle plan is potentially God inspired— - and a little ludicrous. The two young men will openly approach the enemy outpost. If they get a go-ahead sign from God, they will attack. A borderline suicide mission. But if God is with them, Jonathan figures, nothing can stop them.
In his motivational speech to his bodyguard, Jonathan seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth: •
- Nothing can hinder the Lord.
- Perhaps the Lord will act.
At first glance this seems like spiritual schizophrenia.
But perhaps Jonathan isn’'t schizophrenic. Perhaps true faith always feels this way. On the one hand, I know that God is able to do anything. On the other hand, I think He’'s willing to do this specific thing. I know God can. And I’'m pretty sure He will. But I can'’t be completely sure.
That’'s where audacious faith comes in.
Audacity isn’'t the absence of uncertainty and ambiguity. Audacity is believing that God’s promise is bigger than my perhaps.
The Bible says that God’'s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), not a floodlight beaming to our destination. So, armed with the confidence that there’'s a decent chance and an interesting possibility that my impulse might be from God (perhaps, in other words), I start investigating.
We'’d all like to live in a world where God lets us do big things that require minimal risk. Where the voice of the Holy Spirit carries for miles and miles, piercing through static and fuzz, jeers and taunts. The fact is, though, that the land where the sun stands still is a land where promise and perhaps must coexist. Audacious faith does not eliminate doubt and fear. It eclipses their power one decision at a time. You know God’'s will by doing God’'s will.
Jonathan and his armor bearer ended up saving the day in a spectacular way. Their act of audacious faith tilted the fate of an entire nation.
How much of God’s miraculous power are we unable to experience because we never pray prayers that are bigger than us?
Pray prayers beyond the scope of your own life, and watch what God will do in your own life.
There’'s nothing our world needs more desperately today - —in individuals, families, businesses, churches, and communities— - than God’s saving, supernatural acts. And God is ready to act if we will be bold enough to ask, not just for a good day or a better life, but for the impossible and then will step forward to act in audacious faith.
God has an incredible life for you beyond your imagination. But to get there will require taking bold risks. It will require stepping up and facing your giants… and the unknown. Audacious faith goes hand in hand with trusting God’s will. This is an opportunity to leave your comfort zone and bravely move to where God is calling you.
Power that comes with authority can be applied for good or applied for evil and the Bible addresses both. It’s important for us to know the difference so that we know how to pray for those in power.
Last year, because of all the angst about the current President of the United States (POTUS), I wrote the post “LIke It Or Not The Bible Says We Must Pray For Our Leaders” . In that post I quoted scripture that says we should pray for and submit to our leaders because authority was established by God to maintain peace and order so that we, especially Christians, can live and worship in peace. Please notice that I did not say that we were to pray for an individual but for the authority (official capacity or office). Our prayers should ask God to surround them with wise counsel and to actually change them and any evil in them.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
Titus 3:1 (NLT)1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
Romans 13:1-5 (NLT)1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
That post gives five very good ways to pray for those in power that you don’t agree with, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal, moderate, conservative, or anywhere in between.
Ezra 6:9-10 (NLT)9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day.10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Bold mine)
1 Peter 2:13-14 (NLT)13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Bold mine)
When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed. Manasseh's reign over Judah which resulted in his capture and exile to Babylon was reversed when he repented. This shows that when evil leaders sincerely repent they can be used by God to restore what they have ruined.
2 Chronicles 33:1-3, 11-13 (NLT)1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.13 And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!
Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT) And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
When our leaders obey the will of God, it is easier to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed.
Proverbs 29:2 (NLT)2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
Read the following devotion from the YouVersion Reading Plan Living In The Light: Money, Sex, And Power by John Piper
Mark 9:31-37 (NIV) because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
When great power is wielded in the pursuit of great good, we stand amazed and rejoice. God has appointed human government, for example, to wield power for good. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2 v 13-14). When power is wielded to do justice, we rejoice.
But there is another side to power: “When the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29 v 2).
Power may pursue great good, but it may also pursue great evil.
And therein lies one of the dangers of power. Morally, it is no better than the goal it pursues. It is a “good” only in the way that a saw is good—and one can use a saw to cut firewood but also to deface an heirloom.
Not only is power dangerous because it can be used to bring about evil, but also because it can be used to exalt the one who has it. Since all humans admire glory, and power can be part of glory, we are all tempted to seek this admiration by getting this power. We love to be admired and praised, and so we bend what power we have toward getting applause. In other words, our power is employed to exalt ourselves. This is a great danger.
Why do all humans have this craving? Because we have all exchanged the glory of God for images—especially the one in the mirror.
Romans 1:23 (NIV) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
The reason we abuse power is because we do not delight in the glory of God’s right to all power. When we are blind to the glory of God’s passion to be known and loved as the source and sum of all power, we take it for our own, and use it for ourselves. That is not why God created the universe—or us.
Editor's Note: This is a rewrite of a post of the same name published April 13, 2015
Joshua 6:1-5 (HCSB) Now Jericho was strongly fortified because of the Israelites—no one leaving or entering. The LORD said to Joshua, “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you. March around the city with all the men of war, circling the city one time. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s-horn trumpets in front of the ark. But on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the trumpets. When there is a prolonged blast of the horn and you hear its sound, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and the people will advance, each man straight ahead.” (Emphasis mine)
Joshua and the people believed God and on the seventh day after circling Jericho for the seventh time they blew the trumpets and gave the “Shout of Faith”.
Joshua 6:20 (HCSB) So the people shouted, and the trumpets sounded. When they heard the blast of the trumpet, the people gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed. The people advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city. (Emphasis mine)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. To utter a sudden and loud outcry, as in joy, triumph, or exultation, or to attract attention, to animate soldiers, etc.
2. To utter with a shout; to cry; -- sometimes with out; as, to shout, or to shout out, a man's name.
3. To treat with shouts or clamor.
4. A loud burst of voice or voices; a vehement and sudden outcry, especially of a multitudes expressing joy, triumph, exultation, or animated courage.
The Hebrew word translated shout in is terûʿâ, - meaning clamor, i.e. acclamation of joy or a battle-cry; especially clangor of trumpets, as an alarum :- alarm, blow (-ing) (of, the) (trumpets), joy, jubile, loud noise, rejoicing, shout (-ing), (high, joyful) sound (-ing). - Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.
It is translated shout between 34 and 65 times in the Old Testament depending on the translation or version.
Why Did the Walls of Jericho Fall?
There has been much speculation about what caused the walls to fall. Archeological excavations have proved that the walls did fall. But what made them fall? Was it the trumpets? Was it the shouting? Was it an earthquake?
Joshua and the people believed that God would do what He said that He would do if they followed His instructions. They followed them and on the seventh day they marched about Jericho seven times, blew, the trumpets and gave the “Shout of Faith”, the walls fell and they took the city. It was when the people of God, by faith, followed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down.
Hebrews 11:30 (HCSB) By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled ⌊by the Israelites⌋ for seven days.
The literal interpretation of Joshua 6:20 is the wall fell in its place; i.e., it collapsed—except for the portion by Rahab's house. Whether an earthquake was used by God or not, it was a miracle of timing and completeness. -The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Here is an excerpt from a commentary on Joshua 6:20 from Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch © 1996 by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch published by InterVarsity Press.
Accordingly, the evidence is mounting that Jericho was captured as Israel claimed around 1400 b.c. The city, indeed, was heavily fortified (Joshua 2:5, 7, 15; Joshua 6:5, 20). The attack did come just after the harvest time in the late spring (Joshua 2:6; Joshua 3:15; Joshua 5:10). The siege was short (Joshua 6:15) and the walls were breached, possibly by an earthquake (Joshua 6:20). You can get a copy of Hard Sayings of the Bible by clicking this LINK.
What Can We Learn From This Shout Of Faith?
Here’s a little bit about Jericho and its wall.
Excavations there reveal that its fortifications featured a stone wall 11 feet high and 14 feet wide. At its top was a smooth stone slope, angling upward at 35 degrees for 35 feet, where it joined massive stone walls that towered even higher. It was virtually impregnable.
In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault or surrounded and the people starved into submission. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunneling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking force usually suffered heavy losses.
However in the case of Jericho God had a different strategy. A strategy that may have seemed foolish but when Joshua and Israel followed it and gave the “Shout of Faith” those massive walls fell.
There may be times when God instructs us to do something that seems foolish but as we see from the example of Jericho we should not question God’s instructions or purpose but have faith in God and in the fact that He will do what He says that He will do.
Hebrews 10:23 (HCSB) Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Romans 5:1 (HCSB) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 3:16-18 (HCSB) “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
James 2:14-19 (HCSB) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.
Other Shouts of Faith
Gideon and his 300
Judges 7:20 (HCSB) The three companies blew their trumpets and shattered their pitchers. They held their torches in their left hands, their trumpets in their right hands, and shouted, “A sword for Yahweh and for Gideon!”
Abijah' Army of 400,000 vs. Jeroboam' Army of 800,000
2 Chronicles 13:1-3, 13:13-15 (HCSB) In the eighteenth year of ⌊Israel’s⌋ King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah and reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah daughter of Uriel; ⌊she was⌋ from Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah set his army of warriors in order with 400,000 choice men. Jeroboam arranged his mighty army of 800,000 choice men in battle formation against him. Now Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to advance from behind them. So they were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and discovered that the battle was in front of them and behind them, so they cried out to the LORD. Then the priests blew the trumpets, and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. When the men of Judah raised the battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
The parable of the wise and foolish awaiting the return of Christ
Matthew 25:6-8 (HCSB) “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
Jesus’s triumphal entry
Zechariah 9:9 (HCSB) Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
John 12:12-13 (HCSB) The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: “Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One—the King of Israel!”
The Greatest Shout
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (HCSB) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This shout announces the return to the earth of Jesus. This shout announces the coming judgement. This shout announced the physical resurrection of all those who died before Jesus’ return. Those who are the dead in Christ (believers, those saved by grace) will rise to eternal life along with those believers who are alive. Those who did not believe at death or who did not believe before this shout are headed to judgement and eternal damnation and separation from the Lord.
This shout could come anytime even as you are reading this post. Will you be among those caught up with the Lord or will you be among those destined for judgement? If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are in this second group. If you want to join me and those who will be with the Lord here’s all you need to do. Pray this prayer in all sincerity (only you and God know if you’re really sincere);
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody, leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
Whenever the word Idol is mentioned we automatically think of an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed. However there are other definitions of idols applicable to us today. Two of them are a false conception or notion; fallacy, and a figment of the mind; fantasy. While some do worship an image or other material objects today the more prevalent idols for us fall into the category of fallacies and fantasies. These are idols that we often begin to worship unknowingly or things we believe we can control, and before we know it we have fallen into full blown idolatry. They are insidious so be careful and guard your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Beliefnet gives us 20 idols to guard against. The scripture references were added by me.
20 Disastrous Idol To Avoid
The human heart by its very design is prone to worship, God designed it that way for His glory. But sometimes we fill that vacuum with the wrong things and remove God from first place in our life...resulting in unhealthy attachments, which become idols.
Personal success and gain can keep us from fully entering the Kingdom of God. This was true in the case of the young rich man, when he sadly refused Jesus' offer to follow Him.
Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.
The story of Mary and Martha teaches us that, serving others is a great thing, but not if it gets in the way of us sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus.
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Give honor where honor is due, but be mindful not to give your pastor or other religious figures more honor than you give the Lord.
Romans 13:7 (ASV)7 Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Mark 12:29-30 (NLT)29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
Convenience can keep us from being generous at a time when the Lord asks us to give. Let us always be quick to follow His lead, even if He asks us to sacrifice our comfort.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
The past can be a hindrance to the present and road block to the future. Receive forgiveness and grace and allow God the freedom to transform your life.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Family is one of the most important things in our life and one of our highest responsibilities on earth. Even so this can be harmful for the spiritual benefit of everyone, if we idolize this unit and don't keep Christ as the center of authority.
Matthew 12:48-50 (NLT)48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers.50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
Luke 9:57-62 (NLT)57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Wealth and material gain is empty and full of spiritual destruction-- if this is our main life priority. The Bible carefully reminds us instead, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and He will add all these things to our lives.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT)9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
The lust for power makes a terrible ruler and always destroys relationships and the blessing of God on our life. Power, when it becomes an idol is fueled by pride and is always followed by a fall to humble us.
Proverbs 29:23 (NLT)23 Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.
Around election time, our loyalty to our political party can potentially usurp our loyalty to the authoritative Word of God. We must always align our heart's allegiance to a King and Kingdom. That King is Jesus and that Kingdom is the Kingdom of God.
Isaiah 40:8 (NLT)8 The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Revelation 19:11, 16 (NLT)11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Church is necessary to the life of a believer, but when it's your idol, it causes you to live a cosmetic Christian life. Cultivating the right heart before the Lord and being the church should be more important than showing up and going through the motions.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Isaiah 1:11-17 (NLT)11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.12 When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
This idol, known as greed, opens the door for all kinds of evil because you'll do anything to gain more and it's impossible to satisfy. It is much safer to trust in the Lord's provision.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT)9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
The glamour, the beauty and lush lifestyle of celebrities can cause us to revere them to the point where we try to model our lives after them. Worldly gain, without Christ leads to spiritual decay.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 (NLT)31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. (emphasis mine)
Chasing pleasure can lead us down the wrong path and cause us to hurt the ones we love most.
Matthew 16:26 (NLT)26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
ExperienceDon't give your life experiences more power and authority than the will and Word of God. Our understanding when submitted to God becomes wisdom to help us navigate life.
1 Corinthians 1:25 (NLT)25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Psalm 119:105 (NLT) Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Education and information is a tool, not a master. Let the Holy Spirit sanctify this area of your life with God's truth.
Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT)22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
The Bible tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but if we do this without the love of God in our hearts, spiritual gifts become dead works. Idolizing spiritual gifts can create terrible damage in the church. Prioritize God's love and leading to guide you in the gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:3 (NLT)31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all. 1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
A good reputation is better to have than riches. Sometimes God may challenge us in this area for a higher purpose. Here is where we see if we are idolizing the approval of man above God's approval.
Romans 12:3 (NLT)3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
Galatians 1:10 (NLT) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Angels are God's messengers and act on His behalf. Throughout the Bible angels are reverent of God. They would not have us to worship them, but will always turn the glory back to the Most High.
Hebrews 1:7, 14 NIV speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Revelation 22:8-9 (NLT)8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me.9 But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”
Drugs and Alcohol
Excessive drinking and use of legal as well as illegal drugs leads to making poor choices. Over time this idol will destroy the user's life and impact those closest to them. It is more beneficial to be sober and spiritually vigilant.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God values relationships. However, idolizing a significant other, cultivates codependency and makes you deeply vulnerable emotionally. A relationship that glorifies God is one that puts Him first and allows Him to reign.
Proverbs 3:6 (TLB) In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
Mark 10:7-9 (NLT)7 ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,8 and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,9 let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
Remember guard your heart.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel Memphis, TN. Today on the 50th anniversary of his murder I am posting 15 of his inspiring quotes from A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Although gone from us he is now with the Lord and we will forever remember and honor his legacy. He was a man of love who was leader of a civil rights movement in the United States that made a difference not only in this country but throughout the world. He was truly a man who loved Christ and is still a source of inspiration.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Christ and the Christian life
“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.”
“Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love.”
“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”
Doing What is Right
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
“There is little hope for us until we become tough minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft mindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”
“In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself.”
“Segregation is a blatant denial of the unity which we all have in Christ Jesus.”
“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
“Even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.”
“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.”
“In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.”
What is the biggest or most important the two great religious holidays Christmas and Easter (you can substitute Resurrection Day for Easter if you like)? Those who take a secular worldview very quickly say that Christmas is the biggest and most important. For most people Easter is just just another long weekend, another chance to get away for a few days.
Both are very important to Christians, but most Christians would agree with non-Christians that Christmas is the biggest holiday. It's the time of year when we gather with family and friends to sing carols, decorate the tree, and exchange gifts. Christmas is the climax of the whole year.
We Christians justify this by saying that at Christmas we celebrate the birth, of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Why is Christ’s birth so important? One reason is because of who He was: the divine Son of God. He was God in human form – fully man, but also fully God. Only Jesus could say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Only Jesus could say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
But Christ’s birth was also important because of what He did. He came to show us God – but more than that, He came to open the way to God. We are separated from God because of sin – but Jesus came to take away our sins. He did this by becoming the final and complete sacrifice for sin through His death on the cross.
Because we get so caught up in the way that the world celebrates Christmas,and they aren't all bad things, even Christians view Christmas as a bigger holiday than Easter.
Think about it, if Easter had not happened Christmas would just be another day. If the tomb is not empty, the baby in a manger means nothing. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He really is just a Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter never happened, then Christmas is only the story of an insignificant baby born in an out-of-the-way village 2000 years ago. Easter gives Christmas its meaning.
Let’s see if we can determine which event became was most important to the writers of the New Testament and early church. First of all there is no what the writers of the New Testament say about Christmas and Easter major doctrinal point is ever built upon the the virgin birth of Christ. Not one. It's true. It happened. But it's never discussed or mentioned. In fact, Mark and John, two of the gospels, don’t even mention it.
The resurrection, on the other hand, is everywhere in the New Testament. It’s in every gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and it comes up again and again throughout the New Testament. Read Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36) He mentions the resurrection throughout it.
Acts 2:22-24, 3-33(NLT)22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. (emphasis mine)
When the first Christians gathered, they didn't mention Bethlehem; they talked about the empty tomb. They never got over the fact that on Easter Sunday when they went to the tomb, Jesus was gone.
Romans 1:3-4 (NLT)3 The Good News is about his Son, Jesus. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:5-11 (NLT)5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:1-9 (NLT)1 Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it.2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve.6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.
1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,
Revelation 1:18 (NLT)18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (emphasis mine)
I’ll ask again; “What’s the biggest holiday Christmas or Easter?
I know that’s a bold statement and you will get a lot of push back from people who will pull things for all over the Bible and point to other things that appear to them to be contradictions. Since most of us Christians don’t spend as much time studying the Bible as many skeptics the only answer we can give is that the Bible is God’s word and He doesn’t make mistakes so you have to just accept that the Bible doesn't contradict itself. That is a horrible defense for a book that you believe holds the key to life.
Since God knew that there would be those who would not take the time or have the desire to do the kind of study to answer the skeptic He through the Holy Spirit has given some the spiritual gift of teaching. Those with this gift have studied the scriptures and have the answers from the scriptures to show that the are no contradictions, discrepancies, inaccuracies, or conflicting statements in the Bible.
The following is an excerpt from the book The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity, In it the award winning author, Lee Strobel, replies to doubts about Christianity, including the problem of evil, the contradiction between miracles and science, whether God is worthy of worship if he kills innocent children, whether Jesus is the only way to God, and the church's history of oppression and violence.
Lee Strobel is the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and best-selling author of more than twenty books. His classic, The Case for Christ, is a perennial favorite which details his conversion to Christianity. Lee who was an atheist started an intense investigation of the Biblical claims about Christ, after his wife’s conversion. At the conclusion of his investigation he became a Christian in November 1981. He documented his investigation in the award winning book the case for Christ in which retraces and expands his journey toward becoming a Christian. The book summarizes his interviews with thirteen evangelical Christian scholars in which they defend their views regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament. His personal experience while encountering these scholars and their beliefs was portrayed in the movie The Case For Christ released in 2017.
This excerpt addresses the claim made by skeptics that the Bible is full of contradictions and gives you the ammunition to respond with evidence.
The Case for Faith: Coping with Contradictions
by Lee Strobel, from The Case for Faith
Editor’s Note: In this excerpt of The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel is having a theological debate with Norman Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. What a fantastic discussion to share with a friend who is seeking to know the truth today!
When I asked about alleged contradictions in the Bible, Geisler leaned back in his chair and smiled. It was an issue he had spent a lifetime studying.
“I’ve made a hobby of collecting alleged discrepancies, inaccuracies, and conflicting statements in the Bible,” he said. “I have a list of about eight hundred of them. A few years ago I coauthored a book called When Critics Ask, which devotes nearly six hundred pages to setting the record straight.1 All I can tell you is that in my experience when critics raise these objections, they invariably violate one of seventeen principles for interpreting Scripture.”
“What are those?” I asked.
“For example, assuming the unexplained is unexplainable. I’m sure some sharp critic could say to me, ‘What about this issue?’ and even though I’ve done a forty-year study of these things, I wouldn’t be able to answer him. What does that prove — that the Bible has an error or Geisler is ignorant? I’d give the benefit of the doubt to the Bible, because of the eight hundred allegations I’ve studied, I haven’t found one single error in the Bible, but I’ve found a lot of errors by the critics.”
I cocked my head. “Is that really reasonable, though, to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt?”
“Yes, it is,” he insisted. “When a scientist comes upon an anomaly in nature, does he give up science? When our space probe found braided rings around Jupiter, this was contrary to all scientific explanations. So do you remember when all the NASA scientists resigned because they couldn’t explain it?”
I laughed. “Of course not,” I said.
“Exactly. They didn’t give up. They said, ‘Ah, there must be an explanation,’ and they continued to study. I approach the Bible the same way. It has proven over and over to be accurate, even when I initially thought it wasn’t. Why shouldn’t I give it the benefit of the doubt now? We need to approach the Bible the way an American is treated in court: presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Critics do the opposite. They denied the Hittites of the Old Testament ever existed. Now archaeologists have found the Hittite library. Critics say, ‘Well, I guess the Bible was right in that verse, but I don’t accept the rest.’ Wait a minute — when it has been proven to be accurate over and over again in hundreds of details, the burden of proof is on the critic, not on the Bible.”
I asked Geisler to briefly describe some of the other principles for resolving apparent conflicts in Scripture.
“For example,” he said, “failing to understand the context of the passage. This is the most common mistake critics make. Taking words out of context, you can even cause the Bible to prove there’s no God. After all, Psalm 14:1 comes right out and says it: ‘there is no God.’ But, of course, in context it says, the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’ Therefore, context is critically important, and most often critics are guilty of wrenching verses out of context to create an alleged discrepancy when there isn’t one.
“Another mistake is assuming a partial report is a false report. Matthew reports that Peter said to Jesus, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Mark said, ‘You are the Messiah.’ Luke said, ‘God’s Messiah.’2 Critics say, ‘See? Error!’ I say, ‘Where’s the error?’ Matthew didn’t say, ‘You aren’t the Messiah’ and Mark said, ‘You are.’ Matthew gave more. that’s not an error; those are complementary.
“Other mistakes include neglecting to interpret difficult passages in light of clear ones; basing a teaching on an obscure passage; forgetting that the Bible uses nontechnical, everyday language; failing to remember the Bible uses different literary devices; and forgetting that the Bible is a human book with human characteristics.”
“Humans make mistakes,” I said. “If it’s a human book, aren’t errors inevitable?”
“Except for, say, the Ten Commandments, the Bible wasn’t dictated,” Geisler replied. “The writers weren’t secretaries to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they used human sources or used different literary styles or wrote from different perspectives or emphasized different interests or revealed human thought patterns and emotions. There’s no problem with that. But like Christ, the Bible is totally human, yet without error.”
“However,” I interjected, “people bring up alleged contradictions all the time.”
“Like what, for example?” he responded. “What are the most common you hear?”
I thought for a moment. “Matthew says there was one angel at Jesus’ tomb; John says there were two. The gospels say Judas hung himself; Acts says his bowels gushed out.”
“You’re right; those are frequently cited,” he replied. “But they’re easily reconciled. Concerning the angels, have you ever noticed that whenever you have two of anything, you also have one? It never fails. Matthew didn’t say there was only one. John was providing more detail by saying there were two.
“As for Judas’ suicide, you hang yourself in a tree or over the edge of a cliff. It was against the law to touch a dead body in those days. So somebody came along later, found his body, cut the rope, and the bloated body fell onto the rocks. What happens? The bowels gush out, just as the Bible says. They’re not contradictory, they’re complimentary.”
All in all, I had to admit that Geisler was on track. I remember as an atheist peppering ill-prepared Christians with a flurry of apparent biblical contradictions and discrepancies. They would get flustered and embarrassed because they couldn’t answer them, and I’d walk away feeling smug and self-satisfied.
But because they weren’t able to answer them didn’t mean there weren’t answers. As with the troubling passages about the Canaanites and Elisha, the more I delved into the historical evidence and subjected the issues to scrutiny, the more they tended to fade away as objections.
]Why Is It Hard to Believe?
It was almost time for lunch and I was getting hungry. “Do you want to get a bite to eat?” I asked Geisler.
“Sure,” he said. “There’s a little sandwich place down the road.” I glanced through my notes. I thought I had covered everything I wanted to discuss — but then I noticed a quotation I had brought along with me. It was a sentiment that reflected the frustration of a lot of people: why does God make it so difficult to believe in Him? I didn’t want to end the interview without asking Geisler about it.
“One more thing before we go,” I said as I read him the colorful words of a frustrated spiritual seeker:
So if I want to avoid hell, I presumably have to believe that a snake talked to Eve, that a virgin got pregnant from God, that a whale swallowed a prophet, that the Red Sea was parted, and all sorts of other crazy things. Well, if God wants me so bad… why does He make believing in Him so… impossible?.. It seems to me that an all-powerful God could do a much better job of convincing people of His existence than any evangelist ever does… Just write it in the sky, nice and big: “Here’s your proof, Ed. Believe in Me or go to hell! Sincerely, the Almighty.”3
Looking up at Geisler, I said, “What would you say to him?”
Geisler was a bit bemused. “My answer would be that God did do something like that,” he replied. “Psalm 19:1 says, ‘the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.’ (RSV) In fact, it’s written across the heavens so vividly that more and more scientists who search the stars are becoming Christians.
“The great cosmologist Allan Sandage, who won astronomy’s version of the Nobel Prize, concluded that God is ‘the explanation for the miracle of existence.’4 Sir Fred Hoyle, who devised the steady state theory of the universe to avoid the existence of God, eventually became a believer in an Intelligent Designer of the universe.
“The astrophysicist Hugh Ross, who got his doctorate in astronomy from the University of Toronto and did research on quasars and galaxies, said scientific and historical evidence ‘deeply rooted my confidence in the veracity of the Bible.’5 Robert Jastrow, a confessed agnostic and director of the Mount Wilson observatory and founder of the Goddard Space Institute, concluded the Big Bang points toward God. And I like what mathematical physicist Robert Griffiths said: ‘If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.’6 The evidence, Lee, is so clear.”
Not to a skeptic like Bertrand Russell, I noted. “He said if he someday stands before God and is asked why he never put his faith in Him, he’ll say he hadn’t been given enough evidence,” I reminded him.
Geisler, one of whose hobbies is collecting quotes from atheists and agnostics, pointed out something else Russell said. “He was asked in a Look magazine interview, ‘Under what condition would you believe in God?’ and he essentially said, “Well, if I heard a voice from Heaven and it predicted a series of things and they came to pass, then I guess I’d have to believe there’s some kind of supernatural being.’”7
In light of our discussion about the miraculous fulfillment of predictive prophecies in the Bible, the irony in Russell’s statement was obvious.
“I’d say, ‘Mr. Russell, there has been a voice from heaven; it has predicted many things; and we’ve seen them undeniably come to pass,’” Geisler declared.
“Then you don’t think God is making it hard for people to believe?”
“On the contrary, the evidence is there if people will be willing to see it. It’s not for a lack of evidence that people turn from God; it’s from their pride or their will. God is not going to force anyone into the fold. Love never works coercively. It only works persuasively. And there’s plenty of persuasive evidence there.”
I felt an obligation to disclose the identity of the person I quoted as asking why God makes it so difficult to believe. I told Geisler his name is Edward Boyd, and he made that remark to his son, Christian philosopher Gregory Boyd, as they exchanged a series of letters in which they debated the evidence for Christianity. In 1992, after personally weighing the evidence, the formerly skeptical Edward Boyd decided to become a follower of Jesus.8
Geisler smiled at the story, and then he turned personal, even poetic, as he closed by discussing his personal faith.
“For me, I say the same thing that the apostle Peter said: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6:68) He’s the only one who not only claimed to be God but proved to be God. When I compare this to all other claimants of all other religions, it’s like the poet who said the night has a thousand eyes and the day has but one; the light of the whole world dies with the setting of the sun.’ ”
Geisler’s voice softened but kept its intensity. “At the midnight of human ignorance, there are a lot of lights in the sky. Noontime, there’s only one. And that’s Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Based on the evidence for who He was, there really aren’t any competitors.
“So I cast my lot with Him — not the one who claimed wisdom, Confucius; or the one who claimed enlightenment, Buddha; or the one who claimed to be a prophet, Muhammad, but with the one who claimed to be God in human flesh. the one who declared, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ (John 8:58) — and proved it.”
Excerpted with permission fromThe Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, copyright Lee Strobel.
People love it when you talk about the grace of Jesus. They love to hear that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus so that we can have eternal life through Him.
John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But they get upset when the realize that Jesus asks for everything. It’s true that you don’t have to give up anything in order to receive salvation. All it takes to receive it is to believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that He came to the earth, gave His life for your sin, was buried, rose on the third day, and is now in heaven with God the Father.
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
That’s salvation. However once saved Jesus does ask that you give up something and that something is your life...everything. It shouldn’t be a surprise it’s not like Jesus didn’t give you a “heads up”
When people asked Jesus what they had to do to become one of His followers He told them what they needed to do.
Matthew 19:21 (NLT) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mark 10:21 (NLT) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 14:25-26 (NLT)25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Luke 18:22 (NLT) When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
They thought that Jesus had no right to ask for everything from them. To put their whole lives, desires, and passions at His feet.
They all liked Jesus up until then. He heals, he blesses, feeds them, finds money in the mouth or a fish. What a guy. Then all of a sudden He says if you want to follow Me and continue to be a part of this you have to give up everything, and give Me your total allegiance. That’s when folk start leaving. It’s great to get stuff but not so good to give, especially if it's everything.
How dare He. Who does He think He is?
We All Worship Something And That Something Asks For Everything
One of the definitions for worship is to to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much. Whenever you give a lot of attention to anything you are really worshiping that thing. Those things ask for your life. For your all. For every last drop of your allegiance. Power does. Sexual fulfillment does. Athletics do. Your spouse does. Your significant other does. Your job does.
These and the other things that we worship ask us to give up everything. They use fear, false promises, and force to get us to give up everything. When Jesus asks us to give up everything it’s only after He gave up everything first. He gave His life before asking for yours. When He asks there’s no force, no false promises, just His love.
Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
1 John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
He gives love so great that it compels us to lay down our lives in return.
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Some of us would rather settle for less because we don’t think we have to give up anything. Well think again.
Everybody Worships Something
If that someone or something you worship isn’t God then it’s an idol, and the worship is idolatry.
Here’s what the Bible says about idols.
Psalm 115:4-8 (NLT)4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
In other words they have no power to do anything for you even though the ask for your everything in worship. The only power that an idol has is the power that you the worshiper gives it.
You can’t count on an idol no matter what it is; a person, alcohol, sex, anything — they all make for cruel gods. When the effects of the alcohol or the euphoria of sex wears off, or that person upsets you, your emotions bounce up and down like a basketball. God is constant. Always forgiving. Always loving. Never changing.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
When we make another person an idol, we end up squeezing the life out of them. Only one person has the ability to sustain being God, and that’s Jesus.
When we worship Jesus, we can love that person even more because our center isn’t tied to or defined by them. If they upset us, rather than affecting us negatively every time, we can give back love, grace, and forgiveness because our self-worth comes from God.
Idols need to be defended. When they don’t bless us, or show us love, or prosper us then we have to defend them. We have to rationalize why they did come through for us. But Jesus doesn’t need defending. He never defended Himself but gave Himself as an offering and in the process defeated evil (in a moment when everyone thought evil had won!).
Charles Spurgeon said: “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” The mystery of Jesus is just like the mystery in Revelation 5. He’s called the Lion of Judah, but when John looks, he sees a lamb slaughtered. Jesus is a powerful, victorious lion who achieved that victory by the act of the lamb who was slain.
The only one who deserves our everything is the one who gave everything. He his the only one worthy of our worship.
Just like the creatures around the throne we should give our everything, worship the Lamb who gave His everything, and sing His praise:
Revelation 5:11-14 (NLT)11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Some excerpts from It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke.
The Bible is is the top selling book in history. It brings social upheaval, international arguments, and political controversy. It has been used to justify both love and war. And for generations, it has found its way into the hearts of millions, offering comfort, direction, and life-changing truths.
George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
John Quincy Adams said, “So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.”
While it’s exciting to hear what people have to say about the Bible, the best way to understand it is to look at what God’s Word, the Bible, has to say about itself.
Psalm 19:7-10 (NKJV)7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
The Bible is the best-selling book in history. It is also one of the most controversial. The Bible spans centuries of history, contains a variety of literary styles and culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. No book in the history of the world has been as widely circulated as the Bible. Every year it outsells all of the top best-sellers and it has now been translated into over 1,200 different languages.
Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world's best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 6 billion.
The Bible makes claims about the creation of the universe, the nature of the God who created the universe, and the fate of mankind. If these claims are true, then the Bible is the most unique and important book in the history of mankind. If the Bible is true, then it holds the answers to life’s biggest questions: “From where did I come?” “Why am I here?” and “What happens to me when I die?” The importance of the Bible’s message demands it receive fair consideration, and the truthfulness of its message is observable, testable, and able to withstand scrutiny.
We can’t just say, to people, believe the Bible just because the Bible says it should be believed. We should be able to test its truthfulness by historical and scientific means and there’s plenty of evidence to do just that. I can’t provide that evidence in this post but I can recommend two books by a man named Josh McDowell. The books are Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. In these books Dr. McDowell presents historical and scientific evidence of the time and events claims of the Bible.
The Bible is Unique In Literature
The unity of the biblical message is further reason for why one should believe the Bible. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,550 years, with at least 40 human writers, most of whom did not know each other and were from varying backgrounds (king, fisherman, tax collector, shepherd, etc.). The Bible was written in various environments (desert, prison, royal court, etc.), written on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). It was written in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.)
Writing any volume of such length and being in complete harmony would indeed be a wonder, much less dealing with a topic so controversial as religion. Despite covering controversial subjects, it carries one harmonious message. The circumstances surrounding the writing of the Bible would seem to guarantee its fallibility, and, yet, the message from Genesis to Revelation is uncannily consistent.
The Bible has survived through time. Before the printing press it had to be copied and re-copied for hundreds of years, but that didn’t diminish its style correctness or existence. The Bible has more manuscript evidence than any 10 pieces of classical literature combined. Here’s an example of how the manuscripts were preserved. The Jews had something called the massora (a collection of critical and explanatory notes on the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, compiled from the 7th? to 10th centuries a.d. and traditionally accepted as an authoritative exegetic guide, chiefly in matters of pronunciation and grammar), where they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. There were specialists whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity. What other piece of literature do we know of where the letters and syllables and words were counted to make sure there were no errors.
This is a statement from Josh McDowell in his Evidence that Demands a Verdict book;
“A representative of the “Great Books of the Western World” came to my house recruiting salesmen for their series. He spread out the chart of the “Great Books of the Western World’ series. He spent five minutes talking to us about the “Great Books of the Western World” series, and we spent an hour and a half talking to him about the Greatest Bool. I challenged him to take just 10 of the authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, one language, and just one controversial subject (the Bible speaks on hundreds with harmony and agreement).
Then I asked him” Would they (the authors) agree?” He paused and then replied, “No” “What would you have?” I retorted, Immediately he said, “A conglomeration (which means a number of different things, parts or items that are grouped together; collection.) Two days later he committed his life to Christ.”
Here’s another comment “If every Bible in an considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them”
The Bible Is A Story
from This Dangerous Book by Steve Green, Jackie Green, and Bill High
Stories have been used throughout time as vehicles for truth. Even today, every culture passes down its history and values through storytelling. Everyone loves a good movie —for its storyline. Stories can cut through biased assumptions and ignite our imaginations. Stories don’t prescribe doctrine. They engage the heart. For a story to exist, it must be told. And that’s what the Bible does. It tells.
If we’re to read the Bible as a story, then we need to be careful that we don’t pick and choose what we want, cutting out snippets for our own personal needs. Stories demand our entire attention and require us to read them in full, or we may miss an important detail. It is also important that we accurately understand what the stories teach. We are told in the Bible that we are to
rightly [handle] the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
This means we do not have the right to say it means whatever we want it to mean, but we must seek to understand the lesson it is trying to teach. In other words, it’s important that we take an honest approach to the lessons and stories found in the book.
The Bible has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has characters, plot twists, and themes. Each story in the Bible contributes to the grand story, what we like to call the biblical narrative, and should be read with this big story in mind. If we read the stories in isolation and without context, we lose so much of what the story is telling us.
As with all stories, we find so much packed into the pages. We find beauty, mystery, war, suffering, victory, redemption, betrayal, love, hate, death, and life. Each of these elements holds true whether we believe the Bible or not.
The Bible is filled with people. It tells the stories of families, friends, nations, kings, queens, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers. The Bible is filled with poetry and song. People the world over look to the longest book in the Bible, Psalms, for encouragement, peace, and healing, or to the book of Proverbs for the nuggets of wisdom it contains. When you stop and consider the amazing reality that the most famous book the world has ever seen is a collection of small stories that tell an even bigger story, you must marvel.
The Bible starts with an incredible line. It says,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1
Right from the start, we are faced with questions. What are we to think? Is there a God? Are we to believe what is written? Can any of this be true? From its first sentence, the Bible sets forth the existence of God as a self-evident fact. At the end of God’s creation work, the Bible says, He pronounced his work “good.”
Shortly thereafter we read the story of man’s disobedience. We encounter the story of Adam and Eve and learn how the serpent deceived them in the garden and how they broke God’s one rule: don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the only restriction man was given. Without that tree, there was no way for man to disobey and therefore no way to choose to obey or to love. This was the original religious freedom!
The Bible says that we are created in God’s image, and one of the unique aspects of humankind is our ability to choose, to love or not to love, because love requires a choice. The tree was God’s way of giving man choice. Man was told a lie, and because he believed the lie, he chose to disobey. That disobedience created a separation between God and man. The result can be seen in the chaos that followed. Death and destruction, culminating in the flood.
Imagine for a moment that it is springtime and you decide to do some spring cleaning. You send the kids out to play, and after a valiant effort, you are able to perfectly clean your house so that there is not a speck of dust; everything has a place, and everything is in its place. A real dream come true! Now you have a problem: you can’t let your children in the house. As soon as they step foot inside the house, it is no longer perfectly clean. That is the claim of the Bible. Because of our disobedience, our sin, we are no longer able to connect with God as we were created to connect. His perfection demands separation. It is this problem that the story goes on to deal with.
Then we learn about the birth and life of the nation of Israel. This section packs a punch; it’s loaded with stories of war and miracles. The story of Abraham disturbs and dazzles us—God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, and just as Abraham lifts his knife to kill his son on the altar of sacrifice, an angel stops him and shows him a ram stuck in a nearby thicket to sacrifice instead. Pretty intense drama!
We read about the extraordinary life of Moses. He is orphaned, then raised as a son to Pharaoh, living the life of royalty. After murdering an Egyptian for beating a Jew, Moses flees to the wilderness, where God appears to him in a bush that burns yet is not consumed by the fire. There God calls Moses to lead his people, the Jews, out of Egyptian slavery and into a promised land. This is the stuff movies are made of ! Moses accomplishes this but endures great challenge and peril. He is responsible for the most heralded event in Jewish history—the Exodus from Egypt, which is still commemorated to this day as Passover.
We also read about the young and handsome shepherd boy, David. David is one of the more popular figures in all the Bible. He’s described as “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).
There are stories of heroines like Ruth and Esther showing great courage, of prophets warning of God’s punishment because of disobedience, and of repentance and rebuilding after years of captivity. Each story teaches lessons itself, and yet each is a piece of a larger picture.
Then we read about a certain carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus, son of Mary. Jesus enters the scene when the nation of Israel waits to hear from God. Jesus arrives and says controversial things. His actions match His words, and He is quickly embraced by hordes of people because He heals them and eats and drinks with those considered to be the lowliest people in town.
How does He heal them? He speaks to them. He tells one young paralyzed man to pick up his mat and walk. And the man does! For a blind man, Jesus spits into dirt and makes mud, then puts the mud on the blind man’s eyes. Sight!
Another man, an invalid for thirty-eight years, has been sitting by a “healing pool” for a long time. But when Jesus sees him, Jesus asks if he wants to be healed. The man replies with a story about how he can never get into the healing pool quickly enough. Jesus replies,
Get up, take up your bed, and walk. — John 5:8 ESV
Jesus shows up late to His friend’s house and discovers that he’s been dead for days. Overcome with grief, Jesus weeps.
Then He asks the locals to open up the tomb. The people fear the foul stench of the dead body but open the tomb. Jesus shouts to His friend,
Lazarus, come out. — John 11:43 ESV
His close friend rises from the dead and walks out of the tomb, grave clothes still wrapped around him.
Jesus’ path is strewn with miracles.
He claims to be the Messiah — just what the Israelites are waiting for! A national leader. But He disappoints many because He does not want to overthrow the oppressive Roman government. Instead He talks about a kingdom that is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
He talks about how He came to bring eternal life to the world by dying and coming back to life in three days. It’s crazy talk for this no-name son of a carpenter. Or is it? He claims to be the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets! He claims to be the one to fix the sin problem that has been there from the beginning. Believe it or not — you must read the story!
The name of Jesus stirs people up.
Most people, including historians, admit that a man named Jesus walked the earth and was indeed killed in the fashion depicted in the Bible. But Jesus’ words present a scandal. He claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64), the giver of eternal life (John 10:28), the One who forgives sins (Mark 2:10), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), and the Savior, because He died for man’s wrong choice (John 3:14-16).
Most scandalous of all, Jesus says,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. — John 14:6
What do we do with such a claim? How do we fit this claim into our pluralistic society? Jesus, as a character in this Bible’s narrative, demands our attention. His life and resurrection stories are narratives worth exploring. His claims, if true, require more than attention; they require some kind of response: belief or disbelief.
After Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, we read from the likes of Peter and John, two of Jesus’ most beloved friends and disciples. We also read from the pen of Paul, a former persecutor of Christians. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, records Paul’s dramatic conversion, when Jesus appears to Paul in blinding light. The light blinds Paul for days, as he finds his way to Damascus. A disciple of Jesus heals Paul after Jesus speaks to the disciple through a dream.
Having regained his sight, Paul heads straight for Peter and John and learns the teachings of Jesus. After his dramatic conversion, this former Christian-killer now follows Jesus and ends up writing most of the New Testament.
Here again, historians recognize there was a man named Paul, a follower of Jesus.
The Bible ends with an epic book that describes what life will be like in the end of days. John, who some refer to as “the beloved disciple,” wrote the book of Revelation. In this last book of the Bible, he encounters an angel from God who shows him what will happen in the last days before and after Jesus returns for a second time, to collect his followers and to banish evil once and for all.
Revelation is a book cloaked in controversy and outlandish interpretations. But for those who follow this Jesus, it also possesses advice and encouragement.
Excerpted with permission from This Dangerous Book by Steve and Jackie Green, copyright Steve Green, Jackie Green, and William High.
About This Dangerous Book
In This Dangerous Book, Steve and Jackie Green explore the incredible history and impact of the Bible. As the founders and visionaries of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., the Greens have a unique perspective on the Bible’s journey—from its ancient beginnings, to its effect on the moral fiber of nations, to its transformative influence in individual hearts.
The Greens share the challenges they have faced in acquiring biblical artifacts from around the world and why generations—in every time period and in every geographical location—have risked their lives to preserve this precious book.
Exploring ancient tablets, medieval commentaries, and modern translations, This Dangerous Book offers fascinating insight into the miracles and martyrdoms that have led to the Scriptures we read today. The Greens explore how cutting-edge technology gives new insight into the authenticity of the Bible, including the work of fifty scholars who recently uncovered hidden details about thirteen unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragments. This Dangerous Book also looks at the link between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, what we can learn from how the Bible was passed down to us, and why God’s Word is foundational to America’s past and crucial for its future.
The Bible is a world-changer and a heart-changer. Whether you have read the Bible for years or are simply curious about its influence, This Dangerous Book could change your heart as well.
Have you ever been tempted to quit praying? Think carefully before you answer. Have you ever prayed for something so long that you thought that God didn’t want to answer at all? Have you ever prayed for something so long that you thought God didn’t hear you? Have you ever prayed so long that you assumed that God was saying no? Are you still praying for those things? Maybe you should quit.
For the sake of argument let’s say that maybe God hasn’t or didn’t answer because He’s waiting on you to do something. What if what you are asking God to do you could have done yourself? What if you already have all the resources at hand to do what it is that you are asking God to do? If you already have what you need and could have done it yourself, quit praying, and start doing yourself, thanking God for giving you the ability and resources. Thank Him for knowing in advance that you would need those things.
Psalm 139:14 (NLT)14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
2 Peter 1:3 ASV seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;
Mark Batterson in his book Draw the Circle gives us some things that we already know that we don’t need to pray about because God has already told us what to do;
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Luke 6:38 (NLT)38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
James 2:14-16 (NLT)14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
Matthew 5:39-42 (NLT)39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
There are other times where our constant praying amounts to “spiritual procrastination”. We are called to pray about everything, but there comes a time when praying can be a form of disobedience, laziness, or negligence:
Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Pray about everything. Then pray some more. But at some point, we have to quit praying and start doing. We can’t just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us. God isn't honored by prayers that are within our of human abilities; God is honored when we ask Him to do what is humanly impossible. That way, God gets all the glory!
When everything is said and done, God won’t say, “Well said, good and faithful servant.” He won’t say, “Well thought,” “well planned,” or even “well prayed.” There is only one commendation He will give: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Matthew 25:19-21 (NLT) “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’
It’s time to quit praying and start doing.
Some excerpts from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson, copyright Zondervan.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.