Sunday, May 05, 2013

When God answers

Call unto me, and I will answer thee... Jeremiah 33:3

3 things that may happen to us when God answers:

We get what we want but find out we don't want what we got.
Numbers 11: And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes... And the LORD said unto Moses...say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?...And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp...And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.

The Israelites exiting Egypt could hardly enjoy their new-found freedom for desiring the "privileges" they had in slavery. Tired of eating something supplied directly from the God of heaven, they "fell a lusting" for some flesh to eat, remembering their slave diet back in Egypt. Well, simply put, God gave them their desire. He gave it and gave it and gave it until they became sick of it. Not only that, He judged them in the midst of the whole situation.

We humans are sinful folk full of desires that don't satisfy once we have them. Nay, not only are we not satisfied, very often we find we don't even want what we got once we've got it. How much better to pray "give us this day our daily bread" than "sate us with all the things we desire." God knows what we need better than we know ourselves. Pity the poor fool who gets what he wants.

We can't believe we got what we asked for.
Acts 12: Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him...the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands... Peter...came to the house of Mary ...where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel...named Rhoda...when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

God is a God who is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph 3:20)." Sometimes we must question whether we even believe that He is able to do what we ask. When Peter was cast in prison by Herod, the church in Jerusalem engaged in constant intercession on his behalf. Yet when an angel miraculously plucked Peter from prison, not only was he surprised, but the church that had been hoping for such a thing couldn't believe it. The messenger was first accused of being mad, then of being mistaken. When they saw the truth of the matter, they were astonished!

God is such as awesome God it is no surprise that we should constantly be amazed and astonished at His marvelous works and wonders. But when we are astonished that He does exactly what we asked, perhaps we should pause with wonder and say with the father whose son was possessed by an evil spirit, "Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief." The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We don't think God answered.
Micah 3: Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings...Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine ; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded  yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

Sometimes we pray and then think God did not answer. In a sense this is true, as with the false prophets that God "would not hear" but rather "hid His face". For all their supposed abilities, in the end "there is no answer of God." Yet in "no answer" there is a "no" answer. God was not literally unable to hear them, but He "will not" hear them; that is, their prayers are futile and God has no respect toward them for they are not His prophets. They will not receive what they ask.

Whether false prophets or sincere children of God, sometimes it seems like there is no answer from heaven. Let us learn to understand that in "no answer" there is a "no" answer. God is not off on a far journey, asleep, or hard of hearing. When we don't think God answers, know that God is answering. The answer is "no".

In these three compared situations, I see judgement, blessing and providence. 

When Israel rejected God as their spiritual leader and asked for an earthly king like all the other nations, God gave them what they asked for. This gift included God's judgment on them as a people. In having an earthly king they would be one step further removed from God. The specific kings would exercise their own wills upon them, excise taxes, compel citizens into their service, declare wars, be an extra burden on the nation, and in the end be much more a force for evil than for good. Things would never go back to the way they were. God's answers to us sometimes include judgment.

Even in judgment God remembers mercy, and in His dealings with His people we can bountifully profess that the blessings we receive are "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." From the cake to the icing on top, God is good to us. Truly God is good. Every good and perfect gift comes from our heavenly Father above. God's answers to us include blessings, many we can't even imagine.

When we get a "no" answer from God, our first human instinct is to pout and complain. We want it. We should get it. But remember the wandering Israelites who got the meat they wanted and the wondering Israelites who got the king they wanted. How much better to not get what we think we want when we don't need it, than to get what we think we want and not want it after we've got it! This reveals the truth that in all God's answers we find God's providence. He knows what to answer and when and how. His answers are the best. Always. Whether judgement, blessing, or seemingly no answer at all. He is always working all things together for the good of them that love Him.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

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