I think most of us would agree, that if you had a choice between things that make you feel good, and things that don’t feel so good, our natural inclination would be to pursuit that which makes us feel good. We go see movies or be entertained with the idea that we want to feel something positive at the end of the experience. We also could choose people, sermons and churches, all designed to make us feel good. In our pursuit of fee ling good, we could easily wander into things that may not be the truth or reality that the Lord desires for us. His truth, His reality may not always feel good, but His way for each of us is excellent. We are all called to hear His voice and follow His truth, and not get caught up in the evangelical humanism that wants to strip us from our destiny in Him.
There is a continued trend through the western church of preaching and teaching messages that appeal to our souls but do little in changing our souls or renewing our minds to His ways. Many times these teachings are contrary to what the Father desires for each of us. There are truths being spoken out of context and there are truths mixed with deception to tickle the ears of man. Because there are scriptures attached to false doctrine, many fall into the trap of false reality. Much of it has its root in a muddled worldview & an uninspired Word-view. Many read the bible through the eyes of self. They gravitate towards sermons that bring focus to self and the pleasures of this world. They glory in God when things go according to their plans, but often whine or rebel when things go according to His plans.
Quoting & Applying Scripture to our own Desires
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Many have prayed the prayer of Jabez and have expected the same results, not even considering what the Lord may have for His glory in their lives. God granted Jabez His requests because it was according to His plans and His will that Jabez prayed. I do not think Joseph prayed that he would be left for dead by His brothers. I do not think Joseph prayed to be thrown in prison. Yet it was part of God’s divine plan for him. He had dreams of His brothers bowing to Him and certainly did not expect the results he had to endure. The final result was the glory of God being manifest through a servant, who did not live for self, but lived for the glory of God.
Just because God granted Jabez his request, does not mean God is going to grant you your request.
Think of Joseph reading a copy of the Jabez prayer and believing God to keep him from pain, just before His brothers left him for dead and enduring years of pain. God did expand his territory and did bless Him, but it was in God’s design and timing. I am not saying to not ask or pray such things, I am saying, be prepared for His will, and His timing and most of all His glory to come forth.
The territory and resources he has for you now may be all you need to accomplish what He has ordained for you .You can confess, profess, name it, claim it, and get very discouraged that your will did not Change His mind. You can muster up whatever emotional frenzy you want but your will cannot usurp His will for your life. Many people want to be blessed and have their territory expanded, but are not willing to be transformed through death to their own stuff.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
In contrast to the feel good passages of the bible, we do not see many pray, regarding the scriptures above, or pray as Paul did in-
10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in h is sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Praise God that our loving Father denies often our selfish requests, so that we live as disciples for His plan for us
Life in the flesh is not fair, as it is All for the Glory of God.
We are here for His glory and only His glory. When we are done in this life, we are done for His glory. Have you ever thought of Jobs first wife and children? God took them to himself early for His glory. He did not love the wife and children any less than he loved Job. It did not seem fair. I guarantee, his first family is not complaining. Sovereign God allowed His Son to be crucified for His glory. Stephen was martyred as a young man for His glory! We may be called home at 18 or 120 for His Glory. Deal with it!
The western church is taught and tends to gravitate towards Jabez types of prayers and Jabez types of results that really appeal to the core of our flesh nature. They do not want to read, study, or apply the teachings of sacrifice and death to self. Selfless life does not sell in the American church experience. They can quote the feel good scriptures, but do not gravitate to Job or Joseph realities. They certainly desire a season of harvest over any wilderness experience. We do not want to sacrifice our next meal, let alone a career, a house, or a lifestyle for His Kingdom. We need to embrace the wilderness, suffering, and sacrifice as a part of His plan, in changing us into His image.
The Reason and Season is His Choice
28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”
We all like the scripture above. I am so glad that that we can rest in Him and that He will carry the burden for us as we follow Him. So hold on to these, but also hold on to the whole counsel of God, the whole Word of God including the following scriptures. He has seasons for each of us. Some are sowing, some are reaping, and some are still looking for the farm.
”This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him.
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Now these passages are a lot tougher. The Word says I need to forgive before I can be forgiven. Ouch! Human nature would want to lean towards the burden is light type of scriptures, rather then having to actually forgive somebody. Verse 26 is conditional forgiveness from God and that is a scary thing. We must always examine ourselves with the luminary light of the Holy Spirit. We must willingly and speedily forgive others, in order to apply the full measure of His grace upon our lives. The entire Word of God is true, but which part of it is most often being quoted or applied?
What are you choosing off of God’s Buffet Table
Can you imagine going to a Buffet table with a tremendous variety of foods and yet always selecting what tastes the best without regards to what is the best for you? This will get you out of shape and unhealthy rapidly. The same thing goes with the Word of God. If you only lean towards grace, blessings, comfort messages from the Word of God, you will soon be unhealthy spiritually and unable to allow God to impact your own life, let alone anyone else through you.
Why do we ignore certain truths that we need? Why do we want the apple pie of the Word, and ignore much of the meat? What we are really saying is that certain truth does not feel good, does not fit my lifestyle, and therefore, I am going to skip that scripture. I am not going to obey that truth, because it is not meant for me at this time. Well excuse me…
He is Lord of the harvest and He is Lord of the wilderness. He is Lord over much, and He is Lord over little. HE IS LORD over ALL. God loves us enough to do whatever it takes to prepare us as ambassadors of His light to the world.
We must not continue to read the bible with ourselves in mind. We must read His word, and hear His counsel towards what He has chosen for us. If we continue to digest and interpret His Word selfishly and listen to flesh pleasing teachers, we will never mature towards Christlikeness in our journey.
If you do not deal with sin in your life, if you do not continue to die to self, you will limit how God can use you. Destines have been shipwrecked because of pleasure seeking lifestyles. Opportunities have been missed because of blindness to the reality of God’s Word and God’s nature.
May the Lord continue His global shift.
May His leaders, and organizations called by His name, move towards the full counsel of the Holy Spirit. May swift repentance come to those who have proclaimed His name but not applied His life. We have shouted Hallelujah while we did our thing, and Amen while we ignored His thing. Lord, cause us to die to ourselves. Bring it on; bring it upon, anything you choose. Do whatever it takes dear Lord to conform us into your image, and for your glory, in Jesus name.
A believer rejoices in the good times, a disciple rejoices all the time. And all of the disciples of Christ say….Amen!