If you’ve been following my blogs long, you know I’ve been studying and putting into practice the teachings of Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker. It’s an excellent book, based on Biblical principles and one I highly recommend reading. The book is about believing God for things far beyond our individual ability to achieve.
There’s another teacher that I feel a great respect for. He is also a teacher of Biblical truths and his video Life Lessons are worth every minute watching. This teacher is Ray Vander Laan teaching his lessons called That the World May Know.
On the one hand we have the teachings that if you believe, the Lord will give you what you are dreaming for. On the other hand, we have the teachings that tell us through suffering we draw nearer to God and have that which we truly desire. If both teachings are true, then How does this work?
One of the beautiful things about being a Christ follower, a Christian, is that we are free to go directly to the Almighty with questions. James tells us
”If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:5-6)
“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come talk with Me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I’m coming!’” (Psalm 27:8 NLT).
So we know when we have questions we can go right up to Dad and ask Him. In fact, He wants us to ask Him and He wants us to ask the hard questions. I am so grateful to Him for the love He shows us in this and other ways.
And so I talked with the Lord this morning and I felt Him give me a partial answer.
I believe God brings us closer to himself in the deserts, when we suffer for him and when we are persecuted. It's not a coincidence that yesterday I read Revelation 7:14-17
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows (who these people are).”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in[a] the great tribulation.[b] They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
It's no coincidence that today I read Mark 11:22-25
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
I talked to him today about his will and his way in our life, again, giving him that total authority we need to give him. Isn't that what we're supposed to do every day anyway?
And as an aside: Jesus said "you can pray for anything, and if you believe you received it, it will be yours". He used the past tense when he said received, meaning "if you believe you've already received it..." I never noticed that before.
God is good, and no matter where He leads me, in the deserts or in the circle experiences I want to always get closer and closer to Him until I feel His presence with me no matter where I am.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8