Monday, January 11, 2010

God had a Plan,
Finding the Balance

Recently I posted some thoughts on what we choose to believe regarding such things as suffering and poverty. I believe God has also put it on my heart to “balance the message.” Because truthfully speaking, we can get any message out of perspective, or out of balance, and a message that is out of balance is distortion, not truth.

So what is the balance? Having now understood that God does have a place for human suffering, does that mean that whenever adversity comes along, do we simply accept it without question, saying something like, “Well, I’m just suffering for Jesus.”? That is going to an unscriptural extreme, or imbalance, in the opposite direction.

When we encounter any difficulty, we should begin with prayer.

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

Concerning his “thorn in the flesh,” Paul sought the Lord three times before the Lord gave him an answer – and no, it wasn’t the answer Paul was looking for, but it was the only answer that was the will of God for Paul in that situation at that time.

2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

God wants us to learn from this event in Paul’s life, however it is not a formula to be applied dogmatically any time we encounter any trying circumstance. Isn’t that what we often try to do – rather than seeking God each and every time, don’t we often just want a formula to apply? At least in part, the reason we do that is because it’s easier, after all, than having to get answers from God, isn’t it? Not much different from other kinds of legalism, is it?

From James, chapter four, we find that often the reason we don’t have something is that we don’t ask God for it. However, if you read the entire chapter, you will find that God is far more concerned with things like our attitudes and motivations than He is with our being able to ask for and obtain things. Near the end of the chapter, you will even find that assuming something we want to be God’s will, not including the simple words in prayer, “If You are willing…” amounts to evil boasting. Evil boasting!

James 4:2-3 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

James 4:13-16 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

The fourth chapter of Philippians also has a lot to say about asking God for things.

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I like the word ask, because it shows humility before God, it allows God to be God, and it shows the need to wait on Him for answers. Truth faith is not afraid to do that. So, in keeping the balance of the scriptures, don’t ‘name it and claim it,’ but on the other hand, don’t forget to ask either, trusting Him to supply all your needs in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.


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