defeat and unanswered prayer
Recently, I heard a couple of comments about “keeping it real”. In other words, the sermons were good, but it went over the person’s head. In other words, break it down so I can live it in real life.
One thing we all need in order to manage the multiple tasks and challenges we face each day is how to get them all done. It doesen’t matter what our lot in life, we all have “stuff” to deal with.
Here is a scripture.
II Corinthians 6:2 “At an acceptable time I listened to you.
In a day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.
If you notice something to be done, do it now, or delegate it now, or write down the idea now before you forget it. Or, if it has to do with people working with you/for you, decide now how to strategize with them to get it done. Because the idea or focus that is coming to your mind, if you have committed your way to the Lord on a daily basis, if you are thinking of it, the Holy Spirit is bringing your attention to it as a thing that needs to be done.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
In other words, talk to the Lord about whatever you are dealing with, lay out the problem before Him, and then follow the thoughts God gives you on how to solve that problem.
The widow woman who was about to starve was outside collecting sticks for a last meal. That is where Elijah found here and a miracle was the end result of that meeting. What if she had said when the thought came to mind to collect sticks…I’d rather sit here and watch a TV rerun, or scroll Facebook, instead of collecting sticks (they didn’t have TV or Facebook at that time, but you get the point). There’s always an excuse to “not” do something we think we should do. And disobedience and rebellion lead to defeat and unanswered prayer. It’s not answered not because God is not willing to answer the prayer, but because oftentimes “we” are a part of the prayer getting answered and if “we” don’t do what we should do, the process of solving the problem is aborted by us.
We have found the enemy and it is us. Pogo [cartoon character]
What about the devil? Well, absolutely, the devil is real and demons are real and can absolutely cause havoc in a situation.
But this is what Jesus said about himself and should be our goal as well.
John 14:30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me.
It’s really not possible to be tempted with something unless the seed of that temptation reaches something within your soul.
It is simply to prove. Think about what tempts you. Think about your friends. Do they all get tempted by the thing that tempts you? Know that there are people who have zero interest in whatever it is that tempts you.
Temptation is not universal. It is tailored to the weak points in the flesh, meaning the fleshly nature, the carnal nature, the “not” spiritual part of ourselves that can respond to anything in excess. And whatever that “thing” is, it changes from person to person.
Again, the goal is this….the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me.
Have you ever had a situation where everything was peaceful, and then all of a sudden someone acts up? That “acting up” destroys the whole environment for everyone. It can be a child. It can be an adolescent. It can be an adult. The prince of this world attacked a weak spot in someone and that discord was passed onto the larger group.
This is why certain things are important to understand.
One principle is that of the body of Christ. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Somewhere, even if you don’t know the person by name, whatever is causing someone a problem is affecting you if you are part of the body of Christ.
This is why that even if you feel you have your “own house in order” fairly well, you need to also be praying and helping other members of the body get strong. Or helping other members of your family get strong.
This is also why it is not enough for a man to simply “bring home the bacon” and be the natural supplier of needs for the family. He must also be taking spiritual headship and doing spiritual battle for his family and raising up the children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Why did God bless Abraham?
Genesis 18:19 for I have known him, that he commandeth his children, and his house after him (and they have kept the way of Jehovah), to do righteousness and judgment, that Jehovah may bring on Abraham that which He hath spoken concerning him.’
You have to know a bit of English grammar to understand what is being said. “…That Jehovah may bring on Abraham” implies a relationship to the words that went before, the word “that” implies a relationship to words that went before. What words went before? “For I have known him, that he commandeth his children, and his house after him (and they have kept the way of Jehovah [the Lord in other translations]), to do righteousness and judgment,……
So God could count on Abraham to do something and then, because of Abraham’s, and his children’s obedience, God brought “on Abraham that which He hath spoken concerning him.”
In my opinion, there is too much saying “the Lord will do it”, without understanding the part about our responsibilities. Yes, the Lord will do it, but we are the body of Christ and we have our own part to play.
Psalm 115:16 The heavens are Yahweh’s heavens,
but he has given the earth to the children of men.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God was intimately involved with what happened on the earth. He made Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul.
But after that, God gave dominion of the earth to Adam.
God is still involved in the earth, but in a different way. Now God responds to prayer, the authority of the name of Jesus, to prayer in the Spirit and the different ways laid out in the Word of God to engage God to act on behalf of man.
God does not respond to need. God responds to obedience to his Word. God has laid out the laws of the kingdom in the Word of God. God is King of his kingdom. If we want what God offers off, we need to realize that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and follow the commandments in the Word to get results.
God is not a vending machine. God is not a coin slot machine. God is not a glorified Santa Claus. God is not an idol.
If we are not getting results the only cause of the problem can be us. It is either sins of commission (doing something we should not do), sins of omission (failing to do something(s) we should do) or a combination thereof. Because the prince of this world can only come if he has something in us.
Your life will change when you realize how much responsibility you have to change it, when you start having a regular daily devotion with the Lord, when you start following the leading of the Lord. And, I always like to add this because I believe it is one, if not, the biggest key in the Bible. Tithe and give offerings on a regular basis. All other scriptures of the Bible indicate how we will be tested and tried to see if we have yet “made the grade” or “attained” or “graduated” in a certain area and overcome. The scripture about tithing is the only place where God says, “prove me”. All I can say is that it works for me, but I would hasten to add, that you need to tithe first “in time and amount”, it is the first thing you do when money comes into your hands, and it needs to be a full 10% and it needs to be as regular and consistent as money comes into your hands. That may be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even in some cases, yearly. All I can say is “do it”.
I can hear those saying that they help out a brother or sister or son or daughter or friend.
I can only talk from where I’m at. I’ve been around a while, seen a lot of things, and consider this a good adage…”learn from other people’s mistakes because you don’t have time to make them all yourself”.
There are people who don’t want to do the hard, disciplined, work to be successful or learn to follow Biblical principles. We are talking two things here: sound Biblical principles and sound natural practices.
These people will fall into problems because they are simply not following the Word of God. Then they will go for help. But the only permanent help is in Jesus Christ. And that is not merely believing in Jesus Christ. James tells us that the devils believe in Jesus Christ and tremble.
If you help someone when they have no intention to change, you are enabling them to remain in their sin. This is why God barred the way to the tree of life after Adam fell. God did not want Adam to live forever in a fallen state. God had redemption in mind.
To obtain true and permanent help we finally need to learn to walk with God, to obey the Holy Spirit.
Chrisitianity is not merely going to a certain church for a service once a week (though going to church is important). It is learning to walk with God as Adam did before the Fall. Adam lost that ability to commune with God. Jesus made a way for us to reinstate that connection through the new birth. And then we have to grow in it.
That help comes not merely from praying, but also praying and obeying. Jesus went around and healed people. He also taught them. If teaching were not necessary Jesus would not have bothered. But in another place Jesus tells us that he always did the will of the Father, so teaching people is part of the Father’s plan for this earth. We cannot understand how to walk in God’s kingdom without teaching. There is a verse in Isaiah that says “my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.
God’s ways are different than ours. We can’t understand how giving away 10% to a church preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ can help with finances, but it does. And that applies to many principles in the scripture.
So back to where this post started, on the principle of “now”. Actually, all of this is part of the “now” because instant obedience to the word of God is always “now”.
The Bible tells us to read the Old Testament as these things are given to us for examples. There as a time when God told Israel, through the leadership of Moses, to do something, and they refused. Then Moses told them they sinned. Then they decided to do what they had been told to do in the first place.
And Moses told them it would not prosper because…Go not up, for the Lord is not among you….
Back to the topic of “now”. When we do things “now” at the leading of the Lord, it is the optimal time to do it and the presence and power and provision of the Lord is there to get it done. If we wait until “later” that presence and power and provision is not there and we are on our own to struggle through.
If you can learn the lesson of “now” it is a huge lesson. It doesn’t mean that the total problem may be solved, but the step you take is one God can bless and then He can give you another and then bless your obedience to that and then step-by-step God can walk you through the problem.
Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
Numbers 14:1 (KJV) And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
11 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
13 And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.
30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
35 I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned.
41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper.
42 Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you.
44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.
There is no better time than now.
Shakespeare, put this in one of his plays.
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
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