Thursday, July 3, 2008

Will You Believe?

(this one's a long one, but i hope you'll find it worth it!)

Mmmm... How I love Wimbledon. I miss it and wish I were there now. Last year a friend and I went. We arrived with no tickets but queued up and hoped for the best. They ran out of wrist bands just in front of us. We were so disappointed.

Feeling we had nothing to lose, we began to pray. Seems silly to pray for tickets, but what the heck? Then, we just decided to believe. We knew we would get tickets to exactly the court we wanted (Court 2).

We were almost surprised when we arrived at the ticket counter and they told us there was nothing left. So surprised, that I kept asking if she was sure (much to her annoyance). We really believed God would deliver those tickets!

I believe God is real, creator and sovereign over the universe.

Jesus: "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14:13-24

Just then a man entered the booth with “obstructed view” tickets for Court 2 and asked if we wanted two. We jumped with glee, grabbed the tickets, and head out to seats that were in no way obstructed. We'd believed God and he delivered.

Being Diligent In Prayer

Yes, this is somewhat of a silly story with all there is to pray for. But apparently, this prayer was within God's will because he answered it. We’d later find the reason to be the HUGE lesson he wanted to teach us. God loves to use the things we love, to make us mature and complete.

For the remainder of the summer, and fall, and winter, and now... I'd deal with various struggles. I'd look to God in prayer, but sometimes was filled with doubt as to if he was even listening. God doesn't like it when I doubt. :) Time and again I'd hear, "Remember the Wimbledon tickets? If I listened then and delivered something so inconsequential, do you really think I'd fail to show up when its really important? Don't you realize how I love you?!"

I believe God loves us more than we can comprehend and longs for us to speak our hearts to him.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:24

Sporting tickets, parking spots, they're all little. Even how to deal with a coworker, or a significant other, or other responsibilities, they're all manageable. Once in a while though, we face trials so overwhelming, we can't imagine how God will fix it. All the odds seem against the outcome we desire. And yet he wants us to believe, remember his character, remember his power, and keep hoping.

"Lord! Help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him." Romans 4:18

"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:23-24

God is especially pleased when we praise and pray together. Beyond all we're asking, it grows and binds us, as people, as family.

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:19-20

When life is painful, God wants us to BOLDLY come to him. He, in all his splendor and power and might, allows little ol' us into his throne room to ask. He wants us to sit at his feet and believe the impossible. How great is our God who is personal enough to allow us to speak to him and present requests!

I believe God can perform even miracles if he so chooses.

The miracles of the bible are endless. The old and barren had children. Circumstances changed. Kingdoms were conquered with small stones, shouts, and prayers. The sick were healed. The death brought back to life!

Many will say that miracles today have ceased. I don’t agree. I think God is bigger than we can imagine. Miracles may not be normative, but my friends, BELIEVE and see what God might do, just to strut his stuff because you had faith!

Think about who you’re calling on!

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Psalm 121:1-3

Hezekiah was given 15 more years (2 Kings 20) because he called on God, reminding God of his wholehearted devotion. He actually believed and changed God’s mind! Jacob wrestled with God until he got his blessing (Genesis 32).

"The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him." Exodus 15:2

Moses says this right after God parted the Red Sea. Moses couldn't see a way out, but God performed a miracle!

What will you ask for?

Standing Firm in Unanswered Prayer

What happens though, when God doesn't deliver your miracle? How will you react? Will you still love him? Will you still trust him?

I've seen people go through some pretty painful things, as prayers were left unanswered. Some people have impressed me though. When all the world fell apart, when things were taken away, loved one’s destroyed, I’d watch them, hands held high and thanking God for just being him! What a witness!

I believe God is good and trusthworthy, even when we don't get our way. I believe he has a higher plan for our suffering.

The mark of a true disciple, of true devotion to God, is the ability to pray your little heart out, but at the end of the day, surrender and trust. We humbly realize he knows more than us and if he doesn't answer our heart's cry, its because he has a better plan. He's going to do even greater things through going another way. He will be more glorified and we will be more blessed. He's not trying to spite us; he loves us far too much to allow pain for no good purpose. Silly people, if you think otherwise, that's just the enemy messin' with your head. Tell him to go away and remember the truth of who God is. Your God is mighty to save and he loves you!

(Do you know who God is? Have you forgotten? Get in the bible and read John, Genesis and Psalms. You'll remember... or if you don't know... you'll learn.)

Can you still praise him in the tough times? We must! How can we ask good things of God and yet not be ok when he has to do what he knows is right, knowing the bigger picture?

Job’s wife said he should curse God. Job said “No way!” (paraphrased)

Habakkuk wrote this when God told him he'd have to allow Israel into Babylonian captivity to fulfill a long term plan:

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior." Habakkuk 3:17-18

No matter your circumstance, how will you relate to God today? I’m going to hope all hopes, pray all prayers, but above all, praise his name, no matter what. You in?

Father God, I praise you with all my soul. As scripture says, my heart longs, even faints for you. You are mighty! You are faithful! You are perfect. You love us for no reason at all and overflow blessings to us we don’t deserve. You are full of mercy and grace. You are our protector, our guide. I’ll sing of you in the morning and the night. None is like you. God, in difficult times, help us to pray hard… and praise hard, no matter what you deliver. You are good. Your ways are right. Your Word powerful. May I prove as faithful as you. AMEN.

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