Jesus didn't say, "Ask, and if I feel like it, I'll give", or "Seek, and if I'm in the mood, you'll find".
He spoke in the declarative. This is not about a fickle God, playing favorites. This is a powerful reassurance to those who petition Father God . . . assurance that when they pray, when they seek, when they knock, He responds. And responds with good things. Always.
It's me, with my expectations and limitations, that doesn't see, doesn't recognize, doesn't follow God's leading into the amazing things that He has planned for me. He gives. Good things.
Father God, help me believe You more, open my heart and show me any strongholds, any stakes, any areas where I'm not willing to simply believe what You have said, and trust You. I want to be Yours, to follow what You say, and to live in Your presence. In Jesus' name, amen.
Earlier yesterday evening, I thought over how I had let the day get away from me early on, not staking out time to spend in the Word of God. And I regretted it. I had needed the strength that comes from time spent in scripture, as had my family, and yet I didn't have that strength to offer, that day.
In discussing a few things with Vern shortly thereafter, I shared that I felt like I lived some kind of strange, dual life; that half of the time I felt capable and confident, that I could handle whatever came my way, and things would be all right; but the other half, I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, utterly incapable and full of despair. It seemed surreal, to me, that I could alternately experience such totally different states of mind, and that whichever one I was in seemed just as real as the other did when I was in it.
Not long after that, Holy Spirit brought to mind a little grain of knowledge I had tucked away: the word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psycho.
from Greek psukhē ‘breath, soul, mind.’
Current practitioners call psychology the study of the human mind, but as the Lectures on Faith explain:
"And he [Jesus] being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, . . . "
I continued to think on that little revelation into the evening, meditating on how it applied to my earlier heart cry. How could I experience two such totally different states of mind, states of spirit, and have them both feel like actual reality? Then this came to mind:
And so now we find ourselves having to choose. It's a healthy thing. You ought to have to choose. You ought to have your salvation at peril on how you choose. . . . You should have to choose. And your eternal peril should hang in the balance as you make that choice. That is a perfect conundrum, in my view. Grow up. Accept the burden. Find out. Learn about God. Or be damned by your carelessness, by your indifference, by your refusal to go forward. It ought to be so. And it ought to be put to you plainly. And you ought to have to choose. And you ought to have to choose every time you hear [the enemy] offer something to you. . . . Because [he is] either offering you something . . . that will save you, or [he is] offering something that [he] hope[s] will damn you, because [he's] signing you up on the wrong team. It ought to be so. Everlastingly, it ought to be so" (Denver Snuffer, Lecture 2, "Faith", September 28th 2013, Idaho Falls, ID).
It's a choice.
Which do I want?
Do I want to exist in the reality of damnation?
Or thrive in the reality of salvation . . . the reality determined by the wishes of the enemy of my soul, or the brilliantly-lit and deeply powerful reality framed by the words of the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One who gave His all for me, the perfectly loving, perfectly just and astoundingly generous Jehovah?
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.
Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13, AMP)
Who do I choose to believe?
To whose words do I give power?
I've spent years and years under the rule of the lies of the enemy . . . lies of defeat, of believing I had to give my all first, and then hope for salvation at the judgement day. That I had to laboriously trudge through life, hungering for the occasional crumb from the Lord's hand to palliate the desperate nature of my existence. And the crumbs would always come . . . God gave them to me as soon and as often as I would accept them. But I didn't look for His grace, I didn't understand His love or His extravagant generosity, and so I lived the life of a spiritual pauper while the riches of Heaven lay strewn all around me.
I think you can guess Whom I choose to believe, now.
Which "reality" I choose is up to me. God has said a LOT about my life, about all of our lives. In Him we WILL overcome. He hasn't abandoned us. He won't abandon us.
We can't do it on our own, but with Him, we can do ALL things.
And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. (Moroni 7:33)
Jesus said, "If ye will".
It's a choice.
And I choose FAITH. I choose LIFE. I choose Jesus Christ.
When confusion's my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near
When I'm caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I'll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near
My help comes from You
You're right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness
all on Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don't have to see to believe
that You're lifting me up on Your shoulders
You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless
My help is from You
Don't have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don't have to see it, ‘cause I know,
‘cause I know it's true
Here is the fuller Christian context of that quote:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." ~John 14:12
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit." ~Romans 8:1-4
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:38-39
Or, in the English Standard Version:
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~Romans 8:37-39
Danny Lee Silk wasn't saying we'd never feel anything from the atmosphere around us. Look at the words he used: because of our victory in Christ Jesus, we don't have to be affected, or infected, by what we experience around us. None of it has to change our course, impinge upon our faith, or inspire fear or despair. We don't ever have to lay blame, or responsibility, upon anyone else for what we do, or what we believe. Jesus has offered us all that He has . . . and as we seek Him, we can become more and more the way Danny described. Take Elijah, for example:
"Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.”
So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind.
Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.
About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” ~1 Kings 18:25-27, NLT
Then there's Enoch:
And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. ~Moses 7:13
Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the mighty and powerful King of Heaven's Armies of the Old Testament. He is the tender and careful Good Shepherd of the New Testament. He is the Risen Lord, who will wipe away our tears, and He is the Glorified Messiah who sits at the right hand of the Father, an advocate for us with Him. He didn't go through all He went through just so we could be limited here. If one child of God was able to receive power from heaven to part the seas, or to raise the dead, or to set at defiance the armies of nations, or shut the mouths of lions, then it is within reach of us ALL to do incredible things, for our God is no respecter of persons.
So . . . what are we waiting for? What does your heart long to do, in the name of the Lord, to bless His children? Is it to sing praise? To heal? To hear and understand such that you can comfort those who mourn? To preach the Gospel of the Risen Lord, so all mankind can come unto Him and be saved? Look deep inside your heart, and see what God has placed there . . . because whatever He has planted in your heart, He has also provisioned for you, and He will show you the way to realize the dreams and longings you cherish.
Now, let's go forward in faith, and obtain the word of the Lord, as Enoch did, so, once we have obtained His word, and our faith grows ever stronger, we might do His will, and be conduits for His power in the earth.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us." (Romans 12:1-3 NLT)
I love love love this passage of Paul's to the Romans. It contains keys of knowledge to understand how to come unto Christ (as a living and holy sacrifice), how to allow God to transform us (by listening to Him, and not following the world), and that God transforms us by changing the way we think. And lastly, I love that we can measure ourselves by our faith.
"Wait," you say. "How do we measure ourselves by our faith?"
I'm glad you asked. :o)
In order to measure ourselves by our faith, we take a good, hard look at our faith. Is it dormant? Is it expressed in the way we live and in the choices we make? Does it produce good fruit? And, most of all, do actual signs follow our belief? If there is no evidence in our behavior, no signs, no miracles, then faith is not.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? (James 2:14-19)
James isn't saying we prove our belief by what we do. He's saying that we show what we believe by what we do. So, for example, if you actually believe in Christ, your actions will commonly include loving kindness and provision for those in need. If you deny those in need, it shows you believe in something else, for God surely has said (many, many times) that we are to care for the poor. Not just give them a handout every now and then, but to actually care for and support them. In the Doctrine and Covenants it specifically mentions the fatherless and the widow (I believe "widow" includes single mothers). And the Book of Mormon uses the phrase "no poor among them" when describing the most righteous state of followers of Christ.
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” (Mark 16:15-18)
I love that Jesus made it simple for us to know who actually believes in Him, and who doesn't. Along with their actions showing clearly what they believe, those that believe will have signs follow them. And in true Jesus-fashion, every one of the signs is for blessing others.
If these signs don't yet follow you, don't give up. They will.
This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
We are all, spiritually, coming out of Babylon. When we pray, in these days, the Lord will listen. He will be found!
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." (Matthew 7:7-11)
I love Luke's expanded version of Matthew's commonly-quoted verses:
Then, teaching them more about prayer, [Jesus] used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:5-13)
Our God IS the God of All Good Things. He is the God of All Supply, the God Who Heals, and the Lover of Our Souls. Trust Him. Love Him. And BELIEVE that He will do what He has said. Because He will. As soon as He possibly can, without His fiery presence consuming us entirely.
"I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble." -Proverbs 4:11-12 ESV
David taught Solomon that his steps would be sure and strong, that he would find solid solid footholds where he went. I had always assumed the path along which God would grant that travel looked a lot like this:
But reading this morning, I realized that there was no guarantee of level ground or mild weather in those verses . . . that sometimes the path our Lord leads us over looks like this:
Father of Heaven and Earth, I trust You. When You speak, I choose to BELIEVE what You have said above ALL ELSE. Above the wisdom of men, above traditions, above what my own eyes and flesh and intellect may assert. When You say my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble, I will step out boldly, in full confidence in Your Word! You ARE the God Who Provides, the God Who Heals, the God Who is Faithful. You are Truth, Love and Light! I rejoice that faith is such an unconditional thing, that I need not second-guess or labor long and hard to decide whether or not You are Trustworthy. When I seek You, You ARE found. When I dive into Your Word, You feed my soul. When I turn my heart and mind to You, You do not leave me with deception and emptiness, but fill me with pure knowledge that enlarges my soul and fills it with faith, hope, and love. Lord, lead me today, I pray with all earnestness of heart. Whatever You have in Your heart for me, I will accept, for You are the Lord God Almighty . . . the One who desires nothing more than true closeness with me, with each of Your children. You long to care for us, to bless and strengthen us; and Lord, I accept whatever You have before me, today. I choose to lay my life down for those You have placed in my care, for those I am called to love, and to lead to freedom in Christ, in the name of Him Who I love every bit as much as You, my wonderful Jesus. Amen!