When God Says No...

I've posted some of Alan Smith's Thought For The Day (TFTD) before, and I'm going to do it today. This one is very thought provoking because we humans have tendencies in our frailness. Alan addresses one that could potentially be dangerous...


     I heard a story about a young girl who wrote a letter to a missionary to let him know that her class had been praying for him.  But evidently she'd been told not to request a response to her letter because the missionaries were very busy.  So the missionary got a kick out of her letter.  It said, "Dear Mr. Missionary, we are praying for you.  But we are not expecting an answer."

     I can't help but think that that little girl summarized the prayer lives of many Christians. Sometimes we pray without expecting an answer, even though God has assured us that He does indeed hear our prayers.  David said, "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications." (Psalm 116:1).  But I think many of us struggle with the nagging question, "Is God really listening to me?"   Yes, He heard David, He heard Elijah, and He heard the apostles.  But does He hear me?

     How do we really know that our prayers are answered?  Sure, there are times when we see visible results.  We may pray for someone who's sick and the next week they get well.  But more often, our prayers don't produce flashing "neon" answers.  We pray for help in financial problems, and we don't see things get any better.  We pray for guidance in making right decisions, but the decisions don't get any easier.  We pray for relationships with other people to improve, but they just seem to get worse.  How do we as Christians account for that happening?  How do we explain the fact that so many of our prayers seem to go "unanswered"?

     The truth is, for a child of God there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer.  Maybe you've heard it said before that God answers prayer in three ways.  Sometimes the answer is "yes."  Sometimes the answer is "no."  And sometimes the answer is "wait a while."  It's easy to accept an answer of "yes," but what about when God says, "no"?

     Let me suggest three principles:

     First of all, we need to trust God enough to realize that our all-loving, all-powerful Father loves us and has our best interest at heart.  So when it seems that God says "no" to our prayers, we must trust Him enough to understand that there must be a good reason for it.  It may be beyond our limited ability to understand, but we must simply trust God.

     Secondly, we must not forsake God.  Disappointment is a dangerous, powerful thing.  When we get the feeling that God isn't listening to us, that He has said "no" to some prayer, we have a tendency to feel disappointed in Him.  And Satan whispers to us, "God said He loves you, but He's not here."  And if we allow that disappointment to harbor in our hearts, it can drive a wedge between us and God.  We must continue to be faithful to our responsibility before God.

     And thirdly, we need to realize that the answer may not be "no," but only "wait a while."  God always answers our prayers immediately, but sometimes there's a delay in the giving of the answer and that can be a difficult thing for us to accept.  The ability to wait for an answer is one of the marks of maturity.  Be willing to let God answer in his own time, in his own way, and in his own power.

     Many people see God as a divine vending machine in which you deposit one prayer and out pops a blessing.  But what happens when you put your money in the Coke machine and nothing comes out?  You get angry, you kick the Coke machine.  So it's not surprising that such a view of God and prayer leads to disappointment when God says no.

     I believe that we need to foster an entirely different view of prayer from that one.  Our God is the Great God of the Universe, the Creator of all things that exist other than Himself.  For us to even venture to speak to Him is presumptuous.  For us to ask Him to pay attention to our requests and then hope for Him to meet them requires bold expectation.  In fact such would be arrogance if it were not for the simple fact that God tells us to do just that.

     Looking from the proper perspective, we will not ask "What happens when God says no?" but rather "What happens when God says yes?"  That the God of the heavens would listen to us and our needs is a great testimony to His great love for us.  And it is that love that will lead Him to say no from time to time.  At those times, we must trust Him knowing that he loves us and desires what is best for us.  We must never forsake Him nor our duty toward Him.  And we must realize that what we interpret to be an answer of "no" may just be God telling us to wait a while.

     "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (I John 5:14)

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Response to Satan's Wiles

In the Bible study I hold in my home (open to anyone who would like
to come!), we are walking through the book of Matthew. We studied Chapter 4, and here are some of my thoughts, some stuff from Matthew Henry, and a point to ponder.

While Jesus was fasting the 40 days and nights, He was not hungry… He was filled with sustaining spiritual food. We do not know if He had water, but He was in the desert. We do know that the human body can only survive without any water for 3 days or 72 hours; it can live for 3 weeks without food. That is only 21 days. Jesus survived for 40 days. That tells us that He was supernaturally sustained as He prepared for His temptation. Only after the 40 days does Jesus become aware of His hunger.
It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition, to exploit our environment, and to sew seeds of discontent over our plight.

Want and poverty are a great temptation to discontent and unbelief. Using unlawful means for our relief from any plight (as in Jesus' case, hunger), under a pretense that necessity has no law is no excuse for doing something dishonest and illegal.The law of God ought to be stronger to believers than any condition we find our selves. Yes, I know, what must it be like when your baby is squalling because of hunger. This is the crossroads of the point.

1) Christ was lately declared to be the Son of God when He emerged from the Jordan River after being baptized. Here, after 40 days without food, the Devil tempts him to doubt His Sonship; If thou be the Son of God... If God were your Father, he would not see you starve, for all the beasts of the forest are His. 

The first thing Satan tries to do to believers is to cut off their fellowship with God. He tries to drive a distrusting spirit into the heart. Outward afflictions, wants and burdens, are the great arguments Satan uses to make people of God question their sonship. The Devil aims to shake our faith in God, and bring us to question the truth. When believers think the only way to feed their baby is to steal food, then the devil has won. Their faith has withered. God has never failed a believer! Miracles happened because of people's faith! But Satan won't rest until he can whittle our faith into a splinter.

Satan is not so subtle with us as he was with Jesus.

The Devil carries on his designs very much by possessing people with hard thoughts of God, as if he were unkind, or unfaithful, and had forsaken or forgotten those who had ventured their all with him. He planted in Adam and Eve the seeds of a notion that God forbade them the tree of knowledge because he grudged them the benefit of it; and so here he insinuates to our Savior, that his Father had cast him off, and left him to shift for himself. - Matthew Henry

Then Satan tries to make Jesus prove He is the Son of God by using the power of God to turn stones into bread. He does not say, “Pray to the Father that He turn the stones into bread,” but urges Jesus to command the stones. 

It is so subtle. 

He tries to get Jesus to turn from dependence upon the Father and strike out under His own power. Doing that would question the truth of the Father, distrust the Father’s love, providence, and care, set Himself up as a separate power, and gratify Satan by doing his bidding.

It is written…man does not live by bread alone Deut. 8:3. The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Jesus answers from the book of Deuteronomy, which is the moral law and the marriage covenant. Christ need not turn stones into bread, but trust God to keep him alive some other way now that he is hungry.

Remember how the angel told Satan, "The Lord rebuke you!" God's word is powerful. So powerful it defeats Satan before he can begin if we stay fueled up and plugged in to that power. 

Pot calling the kettle black

I'm doing something I rarely do here. I'm copying my column from Studylight.org here on my blog. I do that when I feel very strongly about something. Early in January something happened that illustrates Satan's tactics against biblical principles.

Prejudice vilifying prejudice is the same as the pot calling the kettle black.

A man, former fire chief of Atlanta Kelvin Cochran, was fired from his job. He's black. He's a Christian. He wrote a book. Which one of those things do you think prompted the mayor to fire him?

Here in Mississippi a person can be fired for absolutely no reason at all. I know because I experienced that. Only God knows what the real reason was. I think it was because I was perceived as a threat to the passage of the sale of alcohol within the city limits (our county is a dry county). I stood my ground. I was quoted in the newspaper. I know the Bible does not teach against alcohol consumption, only against the gluttonous misuse of it. I know you cannot regulate moral values. The discussion was deeply complicated, however my point is that because of my biblical convictions I stood in someone's way. A person who wanted alcohol sales within city limits happened to be in a position to get me fired, which he did. Or it could have been because he hated Jesus in me. Only God knows.

Cochran wrote a book about his Christian views on marriage, the biblical principles of marriage. The mayor claimed that his views caused rifts and hardships, and strained relations with practicing homosexuals within the city's fire department and city personnel.

Let me share some of Cochran's thoughts about it
This experience has taught me that there are worldly consequences for publicly standing for righteousness. But I stand before you to say that the kingdom consequences are far greater and more glorious than the worldly consequences.
 To that end, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ, let me emphasize that this event is not just about Kelvin J. Cochran. This event is to raise attention and awareness to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under attack. As Christians we have to fight the good fight of faith to preserve these cherished protections. We cannot allow our divisions by denomination, race, political party, or geography to continue to weaken the collective voice of the body of Christ. The power that works within us can and will make a difference. You can see that video here.
Openly homosexual, city councilman Alex Wan said, When you're a city employee, and [your] thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city's, you have to check them at the door.

How ironic that Mr. Wan said personal beliefs and opinions should be checked at the door, but was quite vocal in his approval of the firing of the Chief for the perceived belief that the Chief was causing strife within the ranks! This is classic example of Satan's tactics. Using prejudice to vilify supposed intolerance while expecting tolerance.

I'm outraged, but not surprised. It's only going to get worse brothers and sisters. We are facing the beginnings of persecutions. But the persecution is against Jesus and those who love Him, not against the  false religions of the world. Satan knows his time is short and the Bible warns us that his anger fans to white hot fury against Christians of this world. He'll use any means he can to circumvent God's plan.

Take heart. God is never thwarted. He is the Creator of the universe. Consequences will happen when we hold firm to our biblical principles, and when we speak out against society's version of truth and sin, which are blatant lies of the Father of Lies. God always wins and always receives the glory. It is our purpose. We reflect that glory right back at God Himself.

Something crucial bubbles to the top here. How many of us would have ever known the name of the fire chief of Atlanta if he 1) was not a Christian, and 2) did not write a Christian worldview book on marriage, and 3) did not get fired?

God's purpose is clear here. He uses good things and things Satan intends for evil to promote His truths.

How can Christians do any differently that Kelvin Cochran?

Something sadly wrong at Duke University

Political correctness gone amuck! So says Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church-Dallas
was interviewed today on Fox & Friends about this decision by Duke University to amplify and broadcast from the tower the Muslim call to prayer for three minutes each week.

Wait! I see red flags waving all over the place!

I think it is worse than that. This school was started by unashamed, unabashed Christians for Christian theological studies, and even now closely affiliated with the Methodist Church.

Now the officials of the school want to "accommodate trends in the national religious circles." Pooh! It is a complete lack of good judgment and sense. Satisfying trends is like trying to adopt all the goofy fashions that most designers try to faust off on unsuspecting and gullible people. There is a reason that the fashion world uses the word trends. It's a fad, it's a passing fancy. What's bought last year is out of date this year so one must go purchase what's trending this year. It's how people get people to buy into stupid stuff.

Political correctness is how the Muslim mosques rose in number from 11 to more than 1100 in England in a short decade. It is how there are now several No Go zones in Paris that are not safe at all for even policemen. It is how policemen in France were stripped of any kind of guns to protect themselves and law abiding citizens.

This inch-by-inch encroachment is subtle. Soon America will have Islamic No Go zones, we already have more than enough mosques. We are now on the precipice of a terrible, slippery slope. A good gust of wind will knock us over the edge. It may just been an amplified call to prayer to a demon god disguised as the Father of Lights. Beware America, beware!

Addendum: Late yesterday afternoon Duke University retracted their plan to amplify the call to prayer once a week. It seems they suddenly realized how insensitive it was to "celebrate" Muslim at the time France is reeling from the Islam terrorist attack.

Discovery Channel's "Naked and Afraid"

I used to watch Discovery Channel all the time, and I thought it was very educational. My nephew preferred watching it over cartoons when he was 7 years old! He learned a lot and taught me a lot. I was banned to the bedroom TV when I wanted to watch it when football was on.

But today, I don't watch that channel. One show in particular that is offensive is Naked and Afraid.

This show has two people stripped of any clothing dropped into some wilderness and they have to survive without clothing, food, or other gear for days. Discovery Channel thinks this is good fare to be shown in late afternoon rather than delegated to an older viewership after 9PM. Showing this much skin in this kind of desperate, survival situation is soft porn, and should be recognized as such by all parents.

What are they thinking? It's bad enough that other nations around the world think nothing of foul language and soft porn in their TV viewing as well as commercials, but why does America have to follow suit? Where is our sense of decency these days? We have become a broken bridge for our children!

Paul told Timothy that in the end times people would be addicted to lust and allergic to God, and that is exactly what is happening. When I think things couldn't possibly get worse, they do. Things get worse in such sick, graphic, and smutty ways.

Christians have become desensitized to foulness. The problem is that there is no way to give back a child's innocence when it is taken away by shows such as this. Will we every wake up?

I cry out to God, "How long, Lord? How long must we sit in this squalor that has become our once proud, Christian nation?"