When the Answer Is “No”

When we have come before God in prayer asking fervently, obediently, faithfully, humbly and persistently for something … what are we to do when God says, “No”?

First, we can realize that we are in good company. God has said “No” to many notables in the Bible: David, when he wanted to build the temple; Paul, regarding the thorn in the flesh; and even Jesus when He asked that the cup be taken from Him. If God has said it on occasion to this most illustrious group, then surely we can expect that He is going to be saying it to us at times.

As we look back on the many things that we have prayed about, we may realize that this is already the case – perhaps many times over. What next then? We need to accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Obviously “No” is not the answer we wanted, and it may even be difficult for us to swallow. This is not the time to lack faith or get upset. Understanding that our God is all-knowing and a loving Father, we should realize that He knows and does what is best for us. If God is completely and totally in charge of our life, then we can take solace and comfort in the fact that the right things are going to happen at the right time.

Even though we get a negative as an answer, it is really a positive. God does not capriciously reply to our prayers. When He says “No,” it is for a reason and a purpose. His hope is that a good result will come out of it. We should pray, “Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths” (Psalm 25:4). We need to learn from the way that God is working in our life, so that we may continue to grow in the Godly righteous character He is trying to facilitate in us.

When we petition God, it is for His Will to be done in our lives – and now that we can better understand it, all that is left is for us to move on in the direction that God is guiding us in, and not on the route we thought to take.

God sees us and hears us (Psalm 34:15, 17), and His arm is not too short that He cannot save us (Isaiah 59:1). Know this! Keep it in mind! In the end, God’s ultimate goal is to see us make it into His Family, and He will do what it takes to make sure that we are with Him in the end.

The “United” States of America

Having just had the Presidential election I can now safely say that in this democratic nation of ours, we are united. Even though the diametrically opposing views of the populace brought out the worst in so many and only served to make us more at odds with one another — we are still in agreement as to how to solve the problems that beset us.

This country was and still is united in the belief that a man of a particular political persuasion can make this a better country. Of course, half of the people believe their guy is the right one for the job and the other half believe theirs is.

Two days ago, Barack Obama was re-elected to the office he has held now for nearly 4 years, and I am telling you now that this once greatly blessed land of ours is going to continue going downhill. Now what you will not read in most editorials and commentaries is that had Mitt Romney been elected or ANYONE else on the ticket for that matter, the same could have been said about them as well.

To have faith that either of the two leading candidates has the answers to this country’s problems is misguided. In the end it did not really matter who won, because we as a nation are going to continue on a path towards self-destruction–and because it is not within man to guide himself or know right from wrong and then do it.

Religion was never heavily brought into this race. Without true Christianity, this society will continue spiraling out of control and into oblivion as is prophesied — it is coming to pass before our very eyes. Our society and the freedom and prosperity it has enjoyed is coming to The End.

After that THEN we will have true unity! This will only happen with God and His Way and the Oneness that comes with His Spirit. No longer will we be divided and laboring in cross purposes and wrong directions. When this time arrives we will begin to act as one body in unison advancing towards the right goals.

For now though, we are to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” and pray to Him in all of this that “Your Will be done” and not what we want or think is right and best for us or for this nation.

Building a Building

In counseling for baptism, we were admonished to “count the cost” before accepting the responsibility of receiving God’s Holy Spirit. We were to do an accounting of what we were getting ourselves into, before we took on the lifelong commitment and all it entailed.
In Luke 14:28-30 we read, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish…”

Now that we have taken on this responsibility, how is our tower proceeding? By now we should have laid a foundation of the elementary doctrines of God (compare Hebrews 6:1-2) and built upon the Rock that cannot be shaken (compare Luke 6:48). That having been done, we are to be working on our tower.

When constructing our building, are we using good quality materials? We need to have Christ as our Cornerstone–the One that will last (compare Matthew 21:42). Is our craftsmanship all that it should be? Is the tower crooked or are there gaps in it? Or is it fitted together appropriately (compare Ephesians 2:21)?

If we use the blueprint we have been given, we can be God’s building (compare 1 Corinthians 3:9)–one that will endure to the end (compare Matthew 24:13); one that will mold and shape us (compare Matthew 21:44); and one that will allow us to house the Holy Spirit, for which we initially counted the cost (compare 1 Corinthians 3:16).

In the Same Way

When Jesus came to Earth as a human, He was able to live a perfect and sinless life. We are to follow our Example (1 Peter 2:21) and keep all the commandments of God (1 John 5:2-3) and move on towards a sinless perfection (Hebrews 6:1).

Being fully human just as we are, how did Christ manage to live to such a high standard? The simple and quick answer is that He utilized the Holy Spirit and kept His eye on the goal ahead. Now the more pertinent question for us today: how are we to follow in the steps of Christ and lead the same exemplary life? The simple and quick answer is in the same exact way that He did!

We have the goal of the Kingdom of God set before us (Matthew 6:33) and to help us get there, we have at our disposal the same exact means Jesus had …that is the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:6, 11). We have access to the very power of God with which all things are possible (Mark 10:27).

Through the Passover Lamb, Christ, the Spirit of God was made more readily available (John 1:29, 36; 16:7). Now it is incumbent upon us who are imbued with the selfsame Holy Spirit to make the most of it by calling upon God for the help that we need in order to live a more perfect life. If we do ask God for this help, He will hear and answer us, enabling us to accomplish THE goal of eternal life in His Family.

Desensitization

Often when we are exposed repeatedly to some outside factor, the tendency, over time, is to become calloused to it. The more frequently that we are influenced by the same event, the less likely we are to be affected by it in the future.

For example, the more that a person reads, sees and hears about the lawlessness going on presently in this world, the easier it becomes to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to it. For instance, there are over 40 conflicts/uprisings/insurgencies (however we choose to describe war) currently in motion; are we aware that the world is in such bad shape? What about the other atrocities that we are cognizant of through the media? Have we turned off because of the inundation?

Even more importantly, have we allowed the sins around us to diminish our need to re-examine our lives continuously and scrutinize every aspect of it thoroughly? In the covenant that we made with God at baptism, we committed to becoming righteous. We promised to seek first His ways and to pursue perfection (compare Matthew 6:33; 5:48; Hebrews 6:1). Are we doing this or are we just “getting by”?

There are many warnings in the Bible for the people of God in the end-time that show that we are not a foregone conclusion. In fact, just the opposite! Do statements like the following resonate with us: “… many are called but few are chosen,” “the love of many will grow cold,” and “you are neither cold nor hot”? Now is the time to be doing what we are supposed to be doing!

As prophecy falls into place and time grows short, we must be moved to action by the events that are going on around us. Let us sigh and cry and not become hardened through some systematic desensitization. But rather, let us distinguish ourselves in such a manner that when Christ returns He will have no problem recognizing us.

While It Is Day

As the days grew shorter and shorter recently, I found myself reflecting on the things I wished I could do, but could not, because it was now dark. I long for the extended days of light when I could do the things that I want to do and need to do.

These days will come again, but the question that remains is, will I make the most of them when they arrive? Have I learned the lesson from the extra hours that I had to spend in the dark? Will I make hay while the sun shines? Will I accomplish the work that I need to do while I have the light to do it?

What about the Church? Will we be productive and fruitful while we have the opportunity to do the Work? Will we perform the work that God has placed in our hands and has given us the responsibility to accomplish? In John 9:4, we read Christ’s words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

There was a time when we had more of the day in front of us, but now the night is near. Do we feel the deadline approaching? Is the onus of that which is ahead weighing heavily upon us? Are we motivated by the fact that we have made a commitment to do the work that God has given to each of us individually?

In Matthew 21:28-31, we read this, “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”

The answer is obviously the one that repented of his wrong attitude and eventually did the work.

Right now it is still day, but we are rapidly approaching the twilight of the Work, and then it will be night. It may then be too late to do the work effectively that we will have to give an account for (Romans 14:11-12). Without delay, let us follow the example of Christ and work the works of Him who gave us this great calling… while it is day.

Groping in the Dark

When the lights go out and we are left in the pitch black, typically the first thing we search for is a source of light – a flashlight, a candle, etc. Without light, we are prone to stumble and fumble. Sometimes the smallest things will trip us up in our quest to find what we are looking for. Also, along the way we will grasp several wrong items as we probe for the right one.

Spiritually speaking, the same condition currently exists today. There is a pitch black that has descended upon this world. Because of it, people are wandering blindly, grabbing and taking a hold of whatever they run into, believing it to be a means of helping themselves.

In the darkness, they have grabbed a hold of guns for protection; politicians or parties for guidance; money for deliverance; man-made or contrived philosophies for salvation; science for true knowledge; war for accomplishing peace; poisons for healing; the unjust for justice; and the list goes on and on as the blind continue to follow the blind.

The world as an overwhelming whole has rejected the ONE thing that can shed light on these subjects and give us the answers we are looking for: God and His Way as outlined by the Bible. Of course, those who have not read and studied the pages of the “Owner’s Manual” will scoff at the idea that this could possibly be the solution for the ills of mankind.

Isaiah describes the condition of man in this way: “Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places” (Isaiah 59:9-10).

BUT, before we begin to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, we need to reflect on whether we still have blind-spots, things God wants us to see, but that we cannot notice because we are not walking completely in the light? Do we see everything clearly that we need to, or is it vague because we have not come completely out of the shadows?

We were once floundering in the dark, trying out the misdirected ways of the world, but God in His mercy has turned on the light for us, “in the hope that [we] might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:27).

“A Work”

Radio had its Golden Age and then Television had its turn. Now the emerging media of the last 10 years has no doubt been the Internet. Never has there been a time when we can reach so many so easily.

One of the main topics that we have to address every year is how we go about fulfilling the commission of Matthew 28:19-20 which as most, if not all, of you know is “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

In thinking about the mediums available for preaching the Gospel to the world, we are moving forward in our effort to utilize the Internet to a greater extent. We will, of course, continue evaluating other means of getting the Gospel out. We are very excited at the myriad of possibilities. As we quickly finish the projects that we are currently undertaking, we plan to delve into several other endeavors.

“No” Is Not Negative

Sometimes, when we come before God in the right manner–petitioning Him fervently, obediently, faithfully, humbly and persistently–the answer that we will receive will be, “No.”
God has said “No” to many before us and will continue to do so for those that may come after us. But “No” shouldn’t be viewed in a negative way.

Often we are unaware of how our request can and will impact our future and the plan of God, and we won’t understand why we got the response that we did. Perhaps, there will be a time in the future when we learn why things didn’t work out the way we thought they should have. But for the time being, we need to realize that God is completely and totally in charge of our life, and we can take solace and comfort in the fact that the right things are going to happen at the right time.

We need to view a seemingly negative answer in a positive way. God knows what is best for us. What He does, He does in love and for our own good. We need to have faith in this! When God says, “No,” it is for our growth and character. Innately, our hearts are deceitful and there is a way that seems right to us, but isn’t (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 14:12). We need to trust God implicitly.

Instead of becoming upset, we need to look at going in a different direction; knock on other doors; move on with our life; and don’t become stuck in a quagmire of uncertainty. We ought to pray: “Teach me your ways, show me your path,” and then take any course corrections in stride.

God DOES hear the righteous (Psalm 34:15, 17). We need to keep in mind that in the end, God wants us to become immortal members in His Kingdom. He will do what it takes to make sure that we are successful. It is not necessary to live a life of luxury, but it is of paramount importance to build character purified by fire.

We should take every opportunity to glimpse into the mind of God and see what He wants for us. When we pray, we need to ask for the strength and wherewithal to accept, learn and move on when God says, “No.”

Fatal Sequence

The “fatal sequence” of an empire is most commonly attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler. It states that a nation progresses as follows:

From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
From Courage to Liberty
From Liberty to Abundance
From Abundance to Selfishness
From Selfishness to Complacency
From Complacency to Apathy
From Apathy to Dependency
From Dependency back into Bondage

There may be debate as to whether they all have followed this course, but when looking at it, there are some undeniable accuracies. For some time now the English speaking countries have been the dominant empires. So this begs the question, where might we be in Tytler’s cycle?

If we are honest, we would have to say that we are near the end… in more ways than one. We are near the end of the list as well as being near “The End.” The Bible long ago predicted that the end-times would come and that there would be indicators that we are living in those times. Those events are presently happening all around us, and harbingers of future events are becoming clearer every day.

There is no question that these prophecies are going to take place and this present day empire will come to an end. This WILL happen! What is not clear is whether we as individuals will get caught up in the surge and suffer the same fate.

What are our tendencies? Is it to head towards bondage and away from godliness? Or is it to head towards spirituality and away from carnality? As we live in this world and walk through it, is the world wearing off on us or are we wearing off on it?

In the parable of the sower, Christians are warned about “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22)–that they will choke off the Word of God and cause us to become unfruitful. If we succumb to these temptations, then we are in danger of receiving a great trial and tribulation (Matthew 24:21) to help get us back on the track.

We have been given a tremendous blessing in the calling and knowledge that has been bestowed upon us. Matthew 13:16-17 says: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

God brought us out of bondage and led us to the spiritual faith of Christ where He has given us courage, liberty and abundance in His way of life. Now we must be ever vigilant not to be caught in the vicious circle that leads back to the ignominy of bondage. Where are we in this “fatal sequence”?