day and night are alike, dialing 911, dialing a spiritual 911, God has not forgotten us, holding on to a promise, Matthew 4:5-6, overcoming temptation, Psalm 91:10-13, Satan attack God's word, Smith Wigglesworth quote, spiritual promise, striving against God, tempting God to move
Some of you are holding onto a promise – a spiritual promise given to you from revelation born from your time with God. Satan couldn’t stop you from birthing God’s seed. Battle over… right? No, the devil’s attack against your seed has only just begun. He wants you to get the jitters… that is to jump at the false completion or false fulfillment of that word.
Your are in good company! Jesus endured the same temptation and so will you. Just before He entered full-time ministry, the devil was given the opportunity to give Him the spiritual jitters.
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You’;
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6
Most people are instructed to dial 911 in case of emergency. Christians are told to do the same thing in a spiritual emergency… they are instructed to read Psalms 91:1. Guess who else knows Psalms 91? Yes, Satan quoted these emergency verses right in Jesus’ face.
Notice the devil didn’t quote to Jesus the next verse in Psalm 91… it is verse 13…
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. Psalm 91:13
Satan didn’t quote the remainder of these verses to Jesus… He knew them already and would soon apply them! Our victory is found in doing the same. The spiritual jitters are Satan’s temptation to get us to test God by suggesting to the Lord that He must move on our behalf. The truth is … God has not forgotten about you or His promises to you. He knows exactly where you are. None of us need to succumb to the temptation to strive against God’s word by attempting to help Him to move on our behalf. If God needs our help… He will tell us.
I encourage you today to hold on to your word… it is all you need in dark places. As Smith Wigglesworth says, “We want to get to a place where we are beyond trusting in ourselves.”
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17
Doesn’t the phrase “God’s will” get tossed around a lot? You probably speak to yourself about God’s will all the time. In actuality, God’s will is not some mysterious unknown venture. He is not attempting to keep you from discovering His will, but has relevant information for you every day. The word used here for “will” is thelema. It defines what God wishes or purposes to be done on earth. It is how God desires to bless us all through His Son, Jesus Christ.
- Do you think He wants your mind so saturated with worries and anxieties that you can’t process His thoughts and plans for your life?
- Do you think He wants your calendar so crowded, you don’t have time for the important things?
- What do you think God wants to speak to you about His thelema today?
We can’t force or coerce revelation from God’s throne. I have tried and it doesn’t work. What I have learned is, I get more revelation outside my time with God, than in my scheduled alone time with Him. My scheduled time with God is when I work things out I already know and have already learned. Quiet times with God are mostly about praying for what I already understand!
On this point Pastor Guillermo Maldonado reminds us…
Your faith will be strongest in the area in which you have the greatest revealed knowledge from God. Likewise, your faith will be weakest where you lack revelation or have little of it.
The enemy establishes a stronghold where God’s knowledge and revelation do not exist.
The only way we are going to make any progress is through gaining revelation… God’s revelation. No one can speak into your life like your Heavenly Father. I can speak to you, your spouse can speak to you, and your parents can speak to you… but the words which make the greatest impact come from God. He has just the right words you need and He is the only one who can give it to you.
I believe God is wanting to speak into each of us right now! He can only speak to us when we are ready, willing, and able to receive it. Someone said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re making plans to do something else.” Before something else happens… get a thelema word from God.. it will change your life.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
appointed time, awake and alert, chromo, clock, Ephesians 5:15-17, Hellen Keller quote, hora, hour, impulse to soar, Jesus, kairos, King Herod, Matthew 2, redeeming the time, spiritual carpe diem, spiritual opportunities, wise men
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time (redeeming the time), because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
There are three different words in the New Testament to describe what time means.
- Hora is usually translated “hour.”
- Chrono refers to measured time in general. You can hear the clock ticking in this word.
- Kairos (used here in Ephesians) means special appointed times, fixed or special occasions when doors are wide open to move. The Lord wants His children to be aware of these types of spiritual opportunities or mystical moments with God. These are truly Spiritual Carpe Diem moments.
The question is will we recognize these types of opportunities when they come? When Jesus was born, the Wise Men from the East recognized “karios” time (Matthew 2). When the star appeared, they recognized it as an opportunity to see the Promised Messiah, born King of the Jews. They made the most of that opportunity.
In contrast, those closest to Jerusalem, the priests and teachers of the land, missed their “kairos” opportunity. In fact, when the wise men appeared asking for their advice, their hearts were not stirred or prompted to search further. The door of opportunity literally walked straight by their houses and didn’t impact their lives. Even wicked King Herod was more attuned to hearing from God than the keepers of God’s word. Wow!
The truth is God has opportunities for you in 2014. The question is will you be awake and alert enough to sense God’s prompting and movements. It is always “kairos time” with God.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator
Billy Graham quote, E.M. Bounds quote, failure to pray, Garden of Gethsemane, Gethsemane means oil press, honest sincere prayer, Luke 22:41, moving God to our will, moving God to us, New York Harbor, prayer, prayer pull us to God's will, storms within, when circumstance do not change, withdrawn
Sometimes we pray because the internal storm is far larger than the storm raging on the outside. Prayer during these intense moments takes on a different purpose. God calls us to stand strong in the face of circumstances which will not change. Have you ever heard this? “Sometimes God stills the storms of the sea – At other times, He stills the storms within me.” The night before Jesus was crucified He had need for the storm inside to be quieted.
Luke 22:41 said Jesus “withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.” The word for “withdrew” literally translates that Jesus “was Himself withdrawn”. It was as if Jesus were drawn… physically pulled down on His knees to pray. He HAD to talk to His Father. He HAD to share or release the anxiety of what was being laid upon Him. Jesus would later be just as calm and at ease when He stood before Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, and the people. How could Jesus stand and be rejected, humiliated, and crucified with such resolve? On the night previous, Jesus prayed it through in the garden. Someone said, “The battle of the cross was won in the prayer Garden of Gethsemane.”
Jesus’ type of praying is the kind we need to learn. It’s a type of prayer which can give us the ability to face the hard tests of life… because sometimes things are not going to change. When Jesus prayed in the Garden He was brutally honest. There were no religious platitudes, no sugar coating. He knew what was about to occur.
Can we ever be too honest with God? There are people who believe that somehow they’ll offend God by being too honest. From Jesus we learn that sincerity is essential. It brings quick resolution because the Father answers.
Gethsemane means “olive or oil press.” It was a place where olives were crushed and pressed into oil. Jesus’ prayer was a prayer which “pressed into” the Father. The prayer had power to give Him strength because it hinged on accepting the Father’s Will. This is the type of prayer that can transform our times of weakness into times of strength. Why? Because these prayers are the ones which are less concerned with moving God to our will…as they are in moving us toward God.
Billy Graham once wrote: “I watched the deck hands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in New York Harbor. First they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable. But, oddly enough, the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier. Prayer is the rope that pulls God and us together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us; it pulls us to God. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of praying: ‘Not my will; but Thine be done.’”
The next time you pray make it the type of prayer Jesus prayed. Allow yourself to enter into the press. Instead of dreaming and fantasizing about all the different ways God could answer your prayer, allow the Lord to give you His plans. Your circumstances might not change, but I guarantee you will.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
choosing to be obedient, circumstances which do not change, confirmation of the known will of God, drink from the cup, geography test, God's Incubator, I Corinthians 10:13, intimate with God, Leonard Ravenhill quote, Luke 22:39-46, prayer, prayer is laying hold of God, praying against the circumstance change us, temptation, understanding God's language
Lets face it… there are going to be times when prayer will NOT change what’s going to happen. God is still God and we are still His servants. No matter how much we pray, the outcome will still be the same. So, why pray?
The reason for keeping our prayer life current despite the circumstances was exemplified by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times Jesus asked His Father to change His circumstances…. three times He was denied a more favorable outcome. (Luke 22:39-46) It was far better for you and me that God denied His request. So why pray then… because we still need something from God. Our prayer then becomes more of a confirmation of the known will of God.
A minister noticed a young boy kneeling off to the side of the room after youth group and praying very fervently. As the preacher came within earshot of the boy, he was surprised to hear the boy saying: “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.”
After the boy finished his praying the preacher approached him and said, “Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but I couldn’t help but overhear you saying something like ’Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.’ What was that all about?”
The boy replied, “Well, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying as hard as I can that God would make Tokyo the Capital of France.”
Maybe you too have been in a place like this. Is God really going to change the capital of France to Tokyo? I don’t think so. Prayer is a powerful tool, but the outcome will still be the same. So do we continue in prayer when we know the outcome will not change?
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46
I don’t think Jesus was praying so much for His circumstances to change as much as He was praying against the circumstances changing Him. We know from the Gospel narratives that Jesus warned and instructed His disciples to “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” This warning was given three times. The disciples fell quickly into temptation’s snare… Jesus walked away from the temptation to exit God’s process.
When did this “cup” become so important to the Lord. Jesus had never mentioned having to “drink from a cup.” Let me abbreviate here… Drinking from the cup meant Jesus was choosing for Himself to stay in God’s process every step of the way. No deviation. The “cup” was shorthand describing Jesus’ process. I believe also this “cup” was the Father’s language to His Son. Yes, it can be found it scripture. But in Jesus’ mind it described everything He would be going through in the next few hours. I am sure Jesus had prayed about it numerous times. The cup might not speak to you, it might not speak to anyone…. but it sure spoke to Jesus and described precisely what He would be enduring.
Have you ever noticed how I sign the end of my blogs? For the past few months I say…”From God’s Incubator.” Now, this means absolutely nothing to anybody else…but to me, it means a lot. It describes what I am going through. One word reveals everything. Where did I get it? From my wife… no, but she heard it from the Lord. We have prayed about our incubator on numerous occasions. It is interesting. When God speaks, you start talking like Him!
Why is all this important? Because when you grow in the Lord, it is not about you simply following orders. There is a greater level of obedience. Eventually we each need to grow to a level of choosing for ourselves to be obedient. We stop talking about “God making us do things.” Instead, we are obedient to His word because we want to obey. The Father wants more from us than blind obedience. He wants us to choose His will for ourselves. Every parent longs for the day when their children want to brush their teeth, take a bath, and clean their room on their own. Jesus wasn’t simply going to the cross because God wanted Him to go… He was choosing the path of the cross… Himself.
Listen, all Jesus had to do was slip off about 30-40 feet, or even less, and crouch down to pray. No one would have even found Him there. He could have said, “Well, Father, I was there but Judas and his gang didn’t see Me… so I was going to do Your will, but they missed me.” You say they could have caught Him later, but then Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified directly before the Passover. Jesus made sure that Judas’ crew found Him. He basically delivered Himself into their hands. Why? Jesus drank for Himself the cup His Father placed before Him.
In closing, there is a verse of scripture that has always troubled me.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
This verse proves once again that prayer isn’t ALWAYS about changing our circumstances and fixing our problems. Sometimes God’s escape plan is being able to endure what is coming our way. Prayer then, is about laying hold of God…
- laying hold of His strength,
- laying hold of His comfort, and
- laying hold of His Will in our lives.
Prayer is just an affirmation of what we know is already true. Jesus prayed three times for His circumstances to change… all to no avail. In the end, when all of His close friends abandoned Him, He had the comfort of knowing He was in the center of God’s will. Jesus’ prayer life confirmed it.
More next time…
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
blind man, challenging word from God, curse God and die, dead-end, difficult situations, higher prupose, higher purpose, Job, Job 1:21-22, leaders, lose faith, Luke 1, new destination, pilot, point the way to the Lord, prayer John Wesley, prophets, remained faithful, roadblock, seeing eye dog, teachers, Zechariah and Elizabeth
It is not unusual for Christians to hear a challenging word from God, only to take a step of faith to trust God, and then afterward experience even more difficult situations. During these times we can get very discouraged because it appears our very obedience is the reason for our difficulties. Why would obedience create more problems? Because, God has a higher purpose! The Lord has a higher purpose for your life as well.
Luke 1 reminds us God was looking for parents He could trust to bring John the Baptist into the world. Zechariah and Elizabeth demonstrated their trustworthiness, for they did not turn against God or stop serving Him when things weren’t going their way. Their whole married life they had been praying for a child, but were not able to conceive. Yet, they both remained faithful.
Job is another servant of the Lord who remained faithful in good times and bad. When events turned against Job…
Job fell to the ground in worship and said: The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 1:21-22
Even Job’s wife told him “Curse God and die!” Mrs. Job must have been a lovely woman to live with! Job simply replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9-10)
There is always a choice for us when things are not going our way. We can lose faith and turn from God, or we can totally trust Him. Someone said, “Sometimes a roadblock is not a dead-end, but a detour to a new road in life.” When we let God answer our prayers for His purposes we will probably experience a roadblock like those just mentioned. If we remain faithful to God’s larger purpose, we will discover it is not the end of the road. It is only a change in direction leading us to God’s new destination for our life.
Do you want to be used by God for His purposes? Do you want your prayers answered your way, or do you want something bigger and better which God has purposed for you? Zechariah and Elizabeth waited a long time and suffered disgrace and discouragement. But when their prayer was finally answered… it was their son who was chosen to point the world to Jesus.
I believe, more than ever before, we need people to point the way to the Lord. I am not talking about people who act religious. As I have stated before, the world is on to us.
A man was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the plane stopped in Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft, the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.
Everybody got off the plane except one gentleman who was blind.
The man noticed him as he walked by and could tell the gentleman was blind because his Seeing Eye dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of him throughout the entire flight. He could also tell he had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached him, and calling him by name, said, “Keith, we’re in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?”
The blind man replied, “No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs.”
All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog!
The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!
Who wants to board a plane with a blind pilot! Likewise, we need real prophets, leaders, teachers, and preachers. We need the Lord to raise up real prophets like John the Baptist. In order for this to happen…we must be willing to let God answer these types of prayer in His Own Time, in His Own Way, in His Own Power, and for His Own Purposes. It will not be the easiest road because we will have to grow up in our faith and we will have to accept His plan over our own. Are you ready?
Have you ever tried to help God out while waiting for the answers to your prayers? I’ve been there … got a few t-shirts and learned some hard lessons.
The classic Biblical example of a couple trying to help God is Abraham and Sarah. God promised a great nation would come from their loins. Years passed without a son being born. When it appeared God needed their assistance, they took matters into their own hands and had a son (Ishmael) through their servant Hagar. This was not God’s plan, or His promise.
I also think of young couples who get married too soon and live to regret it. Our quick/help solutions are almost always the wrong solutions. We need to wait for God’s solutions, even if they require a miracle, as it did for Abraham and Sarah!
Why does God wait until the last possible moment, when the answer requires a miracle? Why do our circumstances often get worse before He answers?
It is because we tend not to give the Lord credit for answering our prayers until all of our capabilities have been exhausted. When God answers our prayers after all avenues have been exhausted, things can only be explained by God acting on our behalf. Everyone, believers and non-believers alike, realize it was God who moved and answered by His power. The glory is all His and His alone. Sometimes the glory comes from the answer and sometimes it comes from how it was answered. Ultimately, people will say, “The Lord did it.”
We see this clearly when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. Jesus wanted an occasion to reveal His power to everyone. Jesus knew He could count on Mary and Martha because they would not deny Him, even though their “personal prayers” appeared to be going unanswered. Jesus delayed and let Lazarus die to show everyone He had the power over the grave! But those four to five days before Jesus arrived were rough on the sisters. All this reveals that the closer we are to the Lord, the more our faith gets tested. If you consider yourself to be a friend of God, then rest assured… you will be tried.
If your prayer has not been answered, don’t give up or act too soon to solve it yourself. Instead, trust God and wait on Him! God wants to reveal His power through your situation…. to you and to someone close to you who needs to know that your God is for real!
A little old lady came out every morning on the steps of her front porch, raised her arms to the sky and shouted, “Praise the Lord!” One day an atheist moved into the house next door. Over time, he became irritated with the little old lady. So every morning he would step out onto his front porch and yell after her, “There is no Lord!”
Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day.
Then one morning in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto her front porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Lord, I have no food and I am starving. Please provide for me, oh Lord!” The next morning, she stepped onto her porch and there were two huge bags of groceries sitting there.
“Praise the Lord!” she cried out. “He has provided groceries for me!” The atheist jumped out of the hedges and shouted, “There is no Lord. I bought those groceries!”
The old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted, “Praise the Lord! He has provided me with groceries and He made the devil pay for them!”
a unique son or a unique purpose, Arnold Palmer, bitterness, candy store, children, clerk, delayed their promise, disappointed with bigger and better, disenfranchised over a delay, don't ask for small gifts, Ephesians 2:20, fair, God-given dreams, greater blessing, keys for receiving, kind and just, not become jealous, rhythm and timing, spiritually spastic, T.D. Jakes, timing, Zechariah and Elizabeth
God tells us up front that His ways are not our ways. His ways are bigger and better…. beyond what we can even think or imagine! If the Lord’s ways are bigger and better, then why do we always appear to be disappointed with His bigger and better stuff? Could it be that we don’t really believe all that “good stuff” the Bible tells us about and are always bracing ourselves for disappointment.
There was one clerk in a large candy store who always had people waiting in line, even when the other clerks were standing around with nothing to do. The manager finally asked her why she was so popular with customers.
“It’s easy,” she responded. “The other clerks always scoop more than a pound of candy and then start taking away. I always scoop less than a pound and then add to it.”
The Lord works the same way with us many times. With one hand, the Lord scoops and delivers a smaller than expected portion, lays it on the counter and watches our response. If we become dejected and despondent, then He knows whether we are totally grateful. If we are truly grateful for His blessings, He then, with His other hand, lays an even greater scoop of blessing on the counter.
In Luke 1 we discover that Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted children. So, when things were not going their way, they prayed for God to intervene. They wanted what everyone else wanted and most were getting. But God wanted to give them someone special – a unique son for a unique purpose. God needed a special set of parents to raise a prophet. He delayed their answer because He had a much better answer in mind.
Still, day after day, month after month, and year after year, babies were being born to families and friends. This couple saw life move on for other people. For Zachariah and Elizabeth, it didn’t appear too difficult for God to answer the desires and wishes of other parents.
One of the keys to receiving from heaven is to not become jealous of what other people are receiving from the Lord. If we continue to think along these lines, bitterness can creep into our thought life. Our problem is that we simply want what everyone else is getting. God never promised He would answer in “fair fashion”. Fair is a man-made standard. If God gave us what is fair, we all would have been destroyed long ago.
The Bible does say the Lord is “merciful, kind, and just” and He will answer accordingly. When our prayers are delayed, most become content to settle for less than what God originally promised. The key is to not become disenfranchised over a delay.
Golfer Arnold Palmer once played a series of exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia. The king was so impressed that he proposed to give Palmer a gift. Palmer said, “It really isn’t necessary, Your Highness. I’m honored to have been invited.”
“I would be deeply upset,” replied the king, “if you would not allow me to give you a gift.” Palmer thought for a moment and said, “All right. How about a golf club? That would be a beautiful memento of my visit to your country.”
The next day the title to a golf club with thousands of acres, trees, lakes and a clubhouse was delivered to Palmer’s hotel. The moral of this story is: In the presence of a King, don’t ask for small gifts! (Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Baker, 1986)
God’s word encourages us to ask God for His best and wait for Him to move in His time. Ephesians 2:20 which says, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
Do you believe this verse? Trust the Lord and release the power which is at work with you!
actual miracle, attitudes in prayer, delays, delays are not denials, disgrace and disappointment, exceptional parent material, God wants to do something greater, Luke 1:18, Luke 1:25, Luke 1:38, maturity, Meyer quote, Oswald Chambers quote, prophet, sign of maturity, Ted Turner, time, why prayer doesn't work, willing to let God answer in His own time, willing to wait, Zechariah and Elizabeth
A mother of five took one of her daughters, age 9, out for a mother-daughter breakfast. During their meal, she courageously asked her daughter, “How do you think I could be a better mom?” The young girl thought for a moment. Then she promptly related, “Well, you do yell a lot. I know you’ve been praying about that, but it isn’t really working yet.”
Touché! A quip like this had to hurt just a little. Why doesn’t prayer “really work” sometimes? Why do some of our most earnest and sincere prayers appear to go unanswered?
In this blog and following, I am going to focus on our attitudes in prayer. My focus is not about “the how to’s” of prayer, or the “whys” of prayer, but our attitudes. Maybe you’ve sincerely attempted prayer but are still not netting many results. If so, then follow along as I attempt to examine four attitudes which will help get results from heaven.
Time is one of the biggest issues most face when it comes to prayer. In order to receive from God we must be willing to let the Lord answer in His own time. If you are like me… I want what I want, when I want it. I want answers to my prayers right away. After all, I think that what I’m praying about is important and God should answer…quickly. But it’s not always in my best interest or God’s, for Him to answer immediately. During these moments it is imperative to maintain the belief that the Lord has our best interest at heart. If the Lord delays, it is the very best for all concerned.
God often delays answering our prayers because we are not mature or responsible enough to receive. The question becomes can we handle it?
A hundred years ago, who would have thought it would have been possible to send pictures through space? Who would have imagined that somebody standing in front of a camera in New York could be seen by people in Washington? Who could have imagined that instead of waiting for the news to arrive in a newspaper, you could see it happening for yourself, live? A hundred years ago they would have said it was impossible. This is not the case now.
Who would have thought a hundred years ago, it would be possible for people personally to send their own pictures and videos through space to be on the news which runs 24/7. Yet, this happens everyday.
Now, even children and teenagers have this capability. Many have learned the hard way that just because they can, doesn’t mean they should post every pic and video of themselves. Many of them have chosen to send naked pictures of themselves for the whole world to see. Just because we have been given this power doesn’t mean it has been the very best thing for us.
Being willing to wait for something you want or even need is a sign of maturity. Not being willing to wait is a sign of immaturity.
This wasn’t the reason Zechariah and Elizabeth’s answer was delayed in Luke 1. In verses 6 and 9 we see that they were upright, blameless, and kept faithfully serving God despite their disgrace and disappointment in not having a child.
This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men. Luke 1:25
Yes, this elderly couple was “disgraced” by God’s lack of movement in their lives. Ever been there? Do you think God is even concerned when He delays our prayers? Maybe He is in heaven laughing at our disgrace. People wrongly conclude we are “less spiritual” because God has delayed our prayer requests.
Real maturity is loving God despite it all. Mature people do not stop loving God when life doesn’t make sense. Zachariah and Elizabeth kept plugging away with their faith and love for God intact.
As strange as it may seem, God’s delays are not God’s denials! He needed someone He could trust to not deny Him when their prayers weren’t being answered right away. He wanted to answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers in a miraculous fashion. This meant that their answer would not arrive right away. This also meant they were the “exceptional parent material” God needed to raise a prophet… not just any prophet … the prophet that would usher in Messiah.
Cable television tycoon Ted Turner has often been quoted as being critical of Christianity. Turner made some very revealing remarks at a banquet in Orlando, Fla., in 1990. On this occasion he was given an award by the American Humanist Association for his work on behalf of the environment. Turner said he had a strict Christian upbringing and at one time considered becoming a missionary. “I was saved seven or eight times,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. But he said “he became disenchanted with Christianity after his sister died, despite his prayers.” (Spokesman-Review, May 1, 1990. http://www.christianglobe.com.)
Here is a man who didn’t pass the “prayers delayed test.” In fact, this test actually changed the course of his life. His personal prayers were not answered by the Lord, so he chucked his whole relationship with God.
I am sure we have all considered giving up on prayer at one time or another. We get discouraged and quit praying for a season because deep down we wonder if prayer really makes a difference. In Zechariah and Elizabeth’s case, God wanted to do something greater than they had originally requested. God trusted them because they would not give up on Him when their prayers seemed to be going unanswered.
Have you given up on God because He appeared to be deaf to your concerns? Or, are you still faithfully serving Him despite the delay in getting what you have been praying about? Can God trust you to not deny Him when the answers to your prayers are delayed?
Zechariah couldn’t believe the angel’s good news. He doubted what he was hearing.
Zachariah said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” Luke 1:18
Even good, sincere Christians have doubts at times! Why did he doubt the angel’s message? Because he knew he and his wife were “well along” in years. I am feeling a little advanced in years myself these days. They knew that it would take a full-blown miracle for them to have a child! We tend to doubt God when the answer to our prayers requires an actual miracle.
This is the difference between Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Zechariah. Mary did believe God could do a miracle. Zack, because of his age… couldn’t make the leap.
Different issues create certain problems for people. Some can’t believe God for a restored marriage. Some can’t believe God for restored health. Others can’t believe God for a financial miracle. Bottomline… You will hear words like, “That’s impossible!” In other words, “I can’t believe that will actually happen for me. God might be able to work a miracle in somebody else’s life, but not mine.”
The way to correct this is to speak and believe like Mary. “Be it done to me according to Your word.” Luke 1:38