Friday, October 7, 2011

"Unanswered" Prayers

I've long heard people talking about not receiving an answer to their prayers. They talk about how they've prayed the same prayer time after time and meditated, waiting to hear an answer from God but have received nothing. The truth is there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. God always answers, and His answers can range from "yes" to "not now" to "no", but we tend to declare our prayers unanswered unless we hear "yes".

Many times we get something other than what we asked for in prayer, but we consider the prayer unanswered because we didn't receive what WE thought we should. We pray for the healing of a family member or friend and when they pass away we declare that God didn't answer our prayer; truth be told, He gave our loved one the ultimate healing: they will never know sickness or death again. He answered our prayer with His wisdom and His will rather than ours but we can't see it because He didn't give us our loved one back in perfect health.

I've been standing on God's promise for something for more than 10 years on one thing and more than 20 years on another. Both of these issues line up with God's Word, but I haven't received what I've requested, yet. Does that mean He hasn't answered? No! I have received His answer. On the first thing He's provided an alternative, but since what I'm asking is a sincere desire of my heart, I continue to ask Him to grant me my request, in specific. On the other, His answer has been, and continues to be, "not now". In the meantime, He's provided relief, though it's not the total relief or complete fulfilling of my request. But He has answered!

We need to learn to listen to God and hear Him when His answer is "no" or "not right now". Our lives would be much better if we would.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Does God Really Know Every Move of Our Lives?

There's a growing movement among the church that says God knows the outcome and content of each day of our lives, and the final decisions of our life even before we're born. That He knows who will be saved and who will be lost, and has done since before time began. I have to question that line of thinking, however, because God gave us free will. Free will means we have the choice to make. If God knew before the foundations of the world what my decision would be, then how could I truly have free will?

I know there are seeming "inconsistencies" in Christianity; for example, in order to be strong, we must be weak. To live in Christ we must die to self. The meek will be exalted. The master must be servant. And so it goes throughout the New Testament. But, seriously, if God knew before I was born the choices and decisions I would make on the 256th day of my 31st year at 1347 hours, then could I ever have truly made the decision myself via free will, or was it preordained of God that I would choose to do what I did at that exact moment?

It also would negate the argument that some folks have that God only gives someone so many chances before He turns them over to be lost for all eternity with no further call from Him. If He knows that they will ultimately reject all His calls to them, then why would He bother to call them at all? Knowing they're going to reject Him, why waste the energy? (Let me be clear, I don't think God turns His back on anyone until the moment they take their last breath!)

The reason we are so precious to God is because we have free will to make the choice to serve and worship Him or not. When we make the choice to worship and serve the Almighty, the Word says there is a celebration in Heaven! Why would there be such if God already knew we would make that decision and exactly when we would do so? There would be nothing to celebrate because He already knew we'd make that decision. And why would the Bible tell us that God is holding off on bringing the world and time to an end hoping that none would be lost, giving every single person the chance to make the decision for Him?

I know there are many things we cannot understand about God's workings. His ways are so far above ours and our feeble minds can never comprehend His awesome power and majesty. But, when He created man and gave us free will, I believe He chose to not know what our ultimate decision would be, even though He could if He wanted. After all, He did create the entire universe and everything in it just by speaking the Word! Well everything, that is, except man. For the creation of man He didn't speak us into existence, He formed us with His own hand and blew His breath into man; to create woman He took the rib of man to create his helpmate. The only creation He created that He used His own hand to form and make. That tells us how wonderfully and awesomely we were made, and how great His love and esteem for us is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Signs Of The Times

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus told the disciples the signs of His returning:

1. Many will come in His name and will deceive many.
2. Wars and rumors of wars.
3. Nations rise against nations.
4. Famines.
5. Pestilences (a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating).
6. Earthquakes in various places.

One through six are the "beginning of sorrows".

7. Delivered up to tribunals and killed.
8. Hated because of Christ.
9. Many will be offended by Christ.
10. False prophets arise to deceive many.
11. Love will grow cold.
12. The Gospel preached in all the world.

Then the end will come.

Let's look at these, one by one. Numbers 1 and 10 are very similar. Many will come and say they are Christ and false prophets will deceive many. While there have always been false prophets and those who claim to be Christ, the sheer number of those who are teaching falsehoods, and being followed by many, has increased dramatically. This is one more reason we should heed the warning to be careful what we listen to.

Wars and rumors of wars. Other than World Wars 1 and 2, there have never been so many conflicts in the world. The US, alone, is involved in 3 different wars, at the present time.

Nations rise against nations. Look at the magnitude of nations that are in non-military conflict with other nations. One prime example is the US and North Korea.

Famines. Wow, there are massive famines in Africa, but even in the US we're beginning to see huge losses in crops creating shortages.

Pestilences. How many epidemics have we seen in the past couple years? Strange occurrences of contagious illness that have spread like wildfire across the globe.

Earthquakes. I know many people discount this one by saying there have always been earthquakes, but in the past 5 to 7 years we're not only seeing more earthquakes in more places, but they're larger earthquakes which are causing much more damage.

Delivered up to tribunals and killed. We're beginning to hear more and more stories of Christians who are being charged in courts for being Christian. Iran, China, North Korea and other nations, especially nations that are controlled by conservative Muslim governments.

Hated because of Christ and many offended by Christ. Look at the escalation of lawsuits to prevent the name of Christ in our schools, governments or even in our own front yards.

Love will grow cold. Anyone who knows me knows one of my biggest concerns has been the loss of love amongst the church. But it's not just the church that is seeing love grow cold. The incidence of divorce has increased. Families no longer speaking because they don't love one another anymore.

The Gospel preached in all the world. Despite the threat of death, God's Word is being preached in every nation on this planet, often at great risk to those who are sharing the Word and the Bible with those behind the curtains of communism and radical Islam.

I know there are those who will say that these things have always gone on, and while I agree they have, there are two things that prove to me we are living in the final hours: the sheer escalation of each and every one of these "signs" and the fulfillment of the first timeline of Daniel's prophecy: from the time of the call to restore Israel as a nation, the first "time" is given as 63 weeks, which we interpret to be years. That 63 years from the call to restore Israel brings us to the year 2011.

We must make certain our lamps are filled with oil and our wicks are trimmed because the Bridegroom is approaching!