Sunday, February 26, 2012

The link between Faith, Prayer, Forgiveness, and Persecution/trials

This week while I was really busy at work I got a call from my wife.  She wanted me to diagnose why the dishwasher was making a funny noise – over the phone.  While I appreciate the faith she has in me, I don’t even think that the Maytag repairman would be capable of such a feat.  Not to mention that she then expected me to fix it when I got home.  I just wanted to call the warranty company.  For $60 – they have to fix it!  I don’t have the time or the know how to fix a dishwasher.  I don’t have spare dishwasher parts laying around either.  It could easily take me two hours to disassemble the thing and then I’d have to try and figure out how to fix it and then another hour at least to test and reassemble it.  Needless to say, at home that night I wasn’t to thrilled at this prospect.  Stephanie suggested that we pray about it and ask God to fix it or direct us what to do about it.  Maybe it just needs replaced.  I REALLY didn’t even want to hear that kind of talk.  Even though for the past month God has been teaching me intensely about praying and waiting on Him.  I just got tired of praying and waiting.  I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted it immediately.  I got tired of the whole thing, I’m ashamed to say. 

I pray that God will forgive me for not yielding to him the decision to pray seek His will about how to fix the dishwasher.  I let my disgust and anger get in the way for that little unimportant thing.  How can I seek His will for my career if I can’t seek His will for a dishwasher repair?  I am a feeble little man.  What scares me is that if I ever mature, then God will see that I am able to endure more temptations and trials and my life will be harder.  What can I bear now?  There are times when I think that I could bear anything and push in closer to Christ in the process.  Even the betrayal by my wife.  But I dare not let myself go down that road or be that mature, lest God allow Satan to test me.  After all, what if I cave in and turn my back on God?  Or worse yet my life becomes uncomfortable?  Yet it must be allowed  - I must be fully tested in trials here on earth so that my Father in heaven can fully know how much I trust in him.  How can I be rewarded fully if I am not fully tested? These years are only a test – My true existence is then, not now.  How can I fully understand that?  I look to Hebrews 11:9 – where it states that By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Vs. 13 13 These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Vs. 24 24 By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin's fleeting pleasure. Vs. 35 35 and women received back their dead raised to life. But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life. 36 And others experienced mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, sawed apart, murdered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (the world was not worthy of them); they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and openings in the earth. 39 And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. 40 For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.

So as you can see, I lack faith.  I pray now, God, please give me faith.  I believe, help my unbelief, I know you can do anything God.  I saw how opposed Stephanie was to me going overseas.  Not only was she opposed emotionally but she had good reasoning too.  I didn’t even question her, I just yielded.  She was right.  Yet still, I prayed and asked you to work in her heart and fix the situation.  And you did, just three days later after that short prayer.  Before that, I couldn’t even really believe that she would change.  I thought I knew what your answer to my prayer would be.  Yet you surprised me!  What should I be surprised?  I am surprised at what results in the prayers of a man of so little faith. 

Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire and into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him." 17 Jesus answered, "You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him here to me." 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why couldn't we cast it out?" 20 He told them, "It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you."

Mark 10: 26 They were even more astonished and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" 27 Jesus looked at them and replied, "This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God."

Mark 10 29 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much - homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."….Vs.  52 Jesus said to him, "Go, your faith has healed you." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.

So my faith, when I get some, is able to heal me.  Notice that Jesus didn’t even have to touch this blind man, unlike the others.  Why?  Because his faith was in God, Jesus and he drew from the same power supply.  Jesus didn’t have to heal him – he was able to pull the power directly from God, it didn’t have to go through Jesus. 

Likewise when I, if I go to heaven, it will be my faith that will finally heal me. 

Somehow prayer is linked to faith.  The story of the demon that the disciples could not cast out is told in both Matthew and Mark.  At the end, when the disciples are in the house, Mark reports that Jesus said that these only come out by prayer, but Matthew says that it was because of their little faith, and that even a little faith can move a mountain.  We are to cry out to God for this faith, if we lack it, just the same way the boy’s father did.  Father, I believe, improve my unbelief! 

In and of myself, I am pitiful, just pitiful.  Thankfully, I am wise enough early on to see just how pitiful I really am.  And thankfully, I have the opportunity to see how much better I am with God Power running through me.  And as I live this way, I may do great works, I may be persecuted, but in the end, the first will be last and the last first.  So If I want to be first THEN, I have to be last now.  That would mean that those who were persecuted.  First up is Jesus, who was unjustly persecuted and was without sin.  Then next will be someone who only sinned once?  Eh, I don’t know about that, since sin is sin, and Jesus covers it all and so its not like God will be keeping score.  It’s just something God will give out. 

I need to call things that are not, as though they were.  This is how those in Hebrews’ Hall of Faith did it.  This doesn’t mean being silly like saying – there is no lion in front of me, and then getting eaten.  This means saying that Gods promises are true, even when it seems like all hell is breaking loose in your life.  Therefore, Faith: acting as though Gods promises are as good as fulfilled.  We tend to think of faith as believing in God.  This is actually just the beginning of faith.  The other 99% of faith is living it out as per the definition above. 

I am reading a book now by John Hurston, whose wife was raped.  His whole world was falling apart.  Yet he did not seek revenge, but instead forgave the man.  Would I be able to do this?  I don’t ever want to have to find out.  I told Stephanie how to handle an attacker – to get him by the balls.  Does it matter that the Hurstons were loving and open to people instead of being more careful?  No, not really.  If God wanted to test them in this way, He would have done it either way.  They say to trust the Lord but lock your doors.  But this is not faith.  This is such a lack of faith.  It astounds me to no end, because my very own father displays this lack of faith and has tried to instill it in my own heart through these kinds of warnings.  But I never let them sink in.  I see that they are a lack of faith, and I find it disturbing, to quote the Vader.  But I do try and listen to him still, and agree with him in my heart only when he is right.  I don’t email him right now, telling him how disturbed I am by his lack of faith.  He walks as a man of the world, in the world and knowing the world.  His whole life he has seen the scum of the earth every day in his job and I am sure it has jaded him.  If he had had more faith, perhaps it would have been easier for me to understand faith.  As it is, it confounds me to no end.  I lack faith.  I cry out. 

God, give me faith!  Obliterate my unbelief!  And I pray.  And as I do, I call out the promises He has made me and I believe in them, going forth in all of them as though they were.  For they are true.  Lord, permit me to continue in this daily.  I pray now Lord, for my daily bread.  Help me to forgive others as I have been forgiven and seek forgiveness.  Let me not be led into temptation and trial, but save me from the persecutions of Satan, for this world is yours, and your power is the only power, and your Kingdom will come on earth, and I now claim it as though it already were.  Amen. 

FYI - note how this prayer has stemmed from a greater understand of how faith is related to prayer, trials, and forgiveness - and it ended up being a lot like the Lords Prayer. 
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your Kingdom Come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Leat us not be led into tempptation, but deliver us from Evil, for Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glorly, forever and ever, Amen. 

God, you are holy and I come in reverence.  (This is how faith sets up for prayer to be talking to God).  Faith is believing in Gods promises, and He has promised to come back to earth and bring His Kingdom.  Give us our daily bread - this is a promise that God has made us that we are not to worry, that god will take care of us.  the next part of the prayer is about forgiveness and faith - we pray as though God has forgiven us and we have forgiven others.  Not being led into temptation is how faith is related to trials and persecutions. 

No comments:

google search

click on this video for relevant video on my blog