We've heard that saying quite a few times since the movie "God's Not Dead" came out. But can we truly believe it? I'll be honest with you and say that it's a hard one to say and truly believe.
How do you say that, or believe that, when you experience NOT so good things in your life?
My childhood was growing up with a dad that had a brain tumor. He had headaches EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We didn't have a "normal" nor "perfect" home and it was hard. It effected every decision we made. Vacations, going out, having friends over... even how we lived at home. How is having a father that really couldn't engage in our lives because of pain every day... GOOD?
How is your "not so perfect" life fitting with this saying?
How is someone else's life good when their dreams since childhood of having the perfect marriage comes crumbling down? I follow Lysa Terkeurst on IG, and you should too. Here is her post from this morning:
She ends with this:
God is working it all out. My job is to be obedient to Him. His job is everything else.
(She is an amazing human being who has such a story to share and it IS being used for His glory and His purposes... which by the way, is what it all boils down to. (sorry to spoil the ending)
I woke up this morning and found her post on IG before I did my devotions. I'm going through the New Testament and in Mark 11 this morning I come across one of the most misunderstood verses in the bible. "The name it and claim it" part. And it ties together so well with Lysa's post that I knew the Lord was trying to teach me something this morning.
Mark 11: 20-24: "Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away. Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
Honestly, this part of scripture has confused me for years.
Faith that can move mountains?
Faith that does NOT doubt?
I don't want to have doubt... but honestly I have prayed prayers where I asked for something, I said I believed... and it didn't turn out the way I asked. So then the guilt starts coming in and you wonder? Did I doubt and that's why it didn't come true?
Here's where I think I was misguided and this commentary really helped clear things up for me. It's from "Grace to You" and I'll share parts of it below, but it's a great one to read all the way through when you have the time.
"Now obviously that's not literal. (the moving of the mountains) That's a picture of power. I don't know if you know it but in Jewish literature, a rooter up of mountains was a metaphor for a great spiritual leader. It's in the Babylonian Talmud that they call the great rabbis "rooter up of mountains". In other words, people who could remove great obstacles, people who could solve great problems, people who express great power. "Rooting up mountains" became a metaphor for dealing with difficulty, dealing with impossible situations. And the Lord is saying, "Look, I want you to know that you have this power and this power is available to you through faith. If you would believe and not doubt, you can see God's power." In other words, there's great power available.
This is a tremendous thing. They're saying, "Lord, what power, You wished that tree dead and it was dead." And He says you've got the same power available. And He turns it into a lesson about prayer for them, that you can see the same power working if you believe.
Now let me tell you what He means by this. Faith is not faith in nothing. And faith is not faith in things that you think ought to be, and faith is not faith in you or your ideas or your dreams or your ambitions. Faith is placing your confidence in God. All right? So when it says if you have faith, it doesn't mean nebulous..."Well, I believe in believing...well, I believe because I believe." Faith is placing confidence in something you know that is true. It is believing in God as God has revealed Himself. So to say if you have faith and doubt not is to say if you believe that God is able and will do what He says He will do, then you can see it done. Okay?
In other words, the faith that we must have in prayer is not faith in our ideas, is not saying, "Well, you know, I'd like to have that and if I have enough faith I'll get it." No, no, no. That's that ridiculous stuff that you hear being propagated today. "Well, if you have enough faith, you can have everything. That isn't what He's talking about.
Having faith is trusting in the revelation of God.
In other words, if I know that something is consistent with God's mind, if I know it is consistent with His will, if I know it is consistent with His purpose, if I know it is consistent with His desire, then I believe that and I can see that come to pass. It is faith in God as God is and God as God has revealed Himself to be.
I read another commentary on Mark 11:20-25 that summed it up with these 4 Biblical Teachings. You can read them in depth here.
And here is where we can KNOW and NOT DOUBT God's will, through Scripture:
1. God Saves - Romans 10:13 says: ""Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
2. God Sanctifies - If we have called upon God for salvation, we may now be confident that he will answer our prayer for sanctification. Sanctification is that process by which God makes us into the image of Christ, the process of becoming more holy, more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, etc. (He is working through us... and it's a process)
3. God Supplies - Philippians 4:19 puts it, "My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." If we seek FIRST the kingdom of God, all our needs will be supplied. (no, not our wants)
4. God DOES work ALL things for GOOD. This one is SO important to understand and I think the commentary spells it out so beautiful that I want you to read all of it:
"I want to look at one more biblical teaching with you that should enable us to pray at all times without doubting. The teaching is that "in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." This is the greatest and most far-reaching of all the promises in the Bible. The effect it has on prayer is tremendous. It means that when our specific requests are denied, God is preparing something better for us. He never stops working for the best interests of his children. And therefore, in every prayer we pray we can have complete and undoubting confidence in this, "God will give me what is best for me in response to my prayer." Don't ever doubt that.
Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God (cf. 4:16) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." The faith which pleases God in prayer is confident of two things, that God is and that he rewards those who seek him. When we go to God in prayer we must believe that he will bless us, otherwise we displease him. And we can believe he will bless us because he has promised to work in all things for our great good and to rejoice over us to do us good (Jeremiah 32:40, 41).
Many of our prayers will be for things we do not know to be God's will. So we will whisper, "Yet, not my will but thine be done." And we will believe, on the basis of Romans 8:28, that if our specific request is denied, it is because God is preparing something better for us. This fits so well with Matthew 7:9–11,"What man of you, if his son asks of him bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you, then, who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"That is what God will always give in response to our prayers—good things. "No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly." If God denies our bread or our fish, it is not to give us a stone or a serpent, but cake and steak.
When my one year old, Abraham, sees a shiny kitchen knife and wants to have it, I will divert his attention from it to a big, green can filled with clothespins and show him how much fun they are. Have I answered his prayer? No, I haven't given the specific thing he asked for, but, yes, I did answer his longing to have a good time playing with something. Day before yesterday we opened a box of oatmeal cookies for dessert and they were moldy, so I started to throw them all away. But Benjamin started to cry and say, "I saw one that didn't have any fuzz on it." But I said, "Benjamin, the mold starts to grow before you can see it, and it can make you sick. Let's have gorp instead." So we did, but Benjamin felt like he was definitely getting second best. And that's the way we often feel when some of our specific requests are turned down. We think God is giving us second best. But he is not. To those who love him and are called according to his purpose, he always gives what is best for them. Therefore, when we pray, we may always have undoubting faith that God will give us what is best for us.
Isn't that so good?!
I love when I am confused about something in scripture and the Lord tenderly answers my questions. Sometimes it's through someone like Lysa on social media, or a great commentary of that part of scripture that is a bit confusing. Or sometimes it's through a great devotional. But all of it comes together in His perfect way of showing love. Because:
God is good.
God is good to me.
God is good at being God.
As a side note... I'd LOVE to have Lysa speak at one of my retreats some day. So if you know her... give her my number. :)
And on another side note... life isn't what we think it's going to be. My dad didn't have the life he probably wanted, but He thanked GOD every. single. day.
His life was a testimony to trusting the Lord and BELIEVING He IS good.
Hugs to all,