Feb 7, 2012
Above all powers, above all kings,
above all nature and all created things,
above all wisdom and all the ways of man,
You were there before the world began.
Above all kingdoms, above all thrones,
above all wonders the world has ever known,
above all wealth, and treasures of the earth,
there’s no way to measure what You’re worth.
Crucified, laid behind a stone,
You lived to die, rejected and alone.
Like a rose, trampled on the ground,
You took the fall and thought of me above all.
Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard… Luke 1:13
Perhaps you know those who have become cynical toward Christ because of unanswered prayer. They’ve been disappointed, and their disappointment has settled into indifference or bitterness. Many biblical heroes grappled with unanswered prayer—Abraham wanting a son; Moses longing to lead Israel out of Egypt; Paul desiring freedom from his thorn; even Jesus asking for the cup of suffering to pass.
God did answer their prayers, just not as they expected. Prayer isn’t a matter of getting our wishes fulfilled on earth, but of God’s drawing us into His will and working all things for His good.
The angel Gabriel told aged Zacharias, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard.” What prayer? Years before, Zacharias and Elizabeth had pleaded earnestly for a child. They had grown into old age thinking God hadn’t answered their prayers. But not a syllable of their petitions had been neglected by the Almighty.
Don’t worry. God always answers the sincere prayers of His faithful people, though it be at His time, in His way, and for His glory.
You may not think God cares about your problems, but He does. Even now, because you are His child, He is working on your behalf. David Jeremiah
Valley experiences are those where the heartache is so deep or the hardship so difficult that we find it almost impossible to stand. Like a six-foot wave crashing on the shore, such events can threaten to overwhelm us.
Realistically, situations of this kind will at times be of our own making. When we disobey God, we can wander into a painful place, made worse by the knowledge that our fellowship with Him has grown cold (1 John 1:6). In other instances, the actions of others cause us to suffer—perhaps through unexpected job termination, marital infidelity, or betrayal by a friend. Then there are occasions when our heavenly Father Himself leads us into the valley. Although He could guide us around the hardship and suffering, He chooses not to. He has a purpose in mind, which would not be fulfilled if we took the easy way. Whatever the source, valley experiences are inevitable.
Psalm 23 uses four words to describe this valley time: shadow, death, fear, and evil. These terms evoke images of oppressive circumstances, grievous affliction, deep discomfort, and great adversity. There is no way to hurry through an ordeal marked by emotional or physical distress. Both the trial’s depth and length are determined by the Lord’s will, but He walks with us and protects us through it.
God promises that He will use every valley—even those of our own making—to benefit us. (See Rom. 8:28.) Our part is to walk steadily, with eyes firmly fixed on Him, spirits attuned to His presence, and minds trusting in His promises.
“And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:10-11)
In context, this “wickedness” was the crime of rejecting and influencing others to reject the Lord. While this is not a capital crime in a Christian context, this passage does show how God feels about the sin of unbelief—especially trying to persuade others into unbelief—in the infinite love and sacrifice of Christ who suffered and died for their sins. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28-29).
Unbelief in Christ is, in fact, the only sin which God cannot forgive, and thus is the most wicked sin of all. Christ died for all our sins, and thus will provide full forgiveness for all who will accept His gift of salvation. Christ Himself said: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
One of the final words of the Bible warns: “But the fearful, and unbelieving . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). The Lord Jesus is speaking of those who have spurned His sacrificial love. It may seem a light thing in our modern society to ignore or reject Him, but it will eventually prove “a fearful thing” (Hebrews 10:31) to face Him in judgment. HMM
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. —Romans 4:21
I must confess that in my ministry I keep repeating some of the things I know about God and His faithful promises. Why do I insist that all Christians should know for themselves the kind of God they love and serve? It is because all the promises of God rest completely upon His character. Why do I insist that all Christians should search the Scriptures and learn as much as they can about this God who is dealing with them? It is because their faith will only spring up naturally and joyfully as they find that our God is trustworthy and fully able to perform every promise He has made….
God’s eternal blessings do not depend on how you feel today. If my eternal hope rested on how I felt physically, I might as well begin packing for a move to some other region! Even if I do not feel heavenly, my feelings in no way change my heavenly hope and prospect.
I dare not relate even a fraction of my faith and hope to my emotions of the moment and to how I feel today. My eternal hope depends on God’s well-being—on whether God Himself is able to make good on His promises. And about that there is no doubt.
Lord, forgive me for my faltering faith. Remind me constantly that my hope rests on Your good character, in which I have confidence. Amen.
Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
We will never be delivered from the pride of our own selfish condition until we allow the Holy Spirit of God to demonstrate God’s own victory within us.
I have had disobedient believers assure me: “But, Mr. Tozer, I already know that I am bad. I am a believer in total depravity!” My reply: it is possible to be a confirmed believer in total depravity and still be as proud as Lucifer; to still trust in yourself in such a way that the face of God is hidden and you are kept from spiritual victory.
Our concern here is not with theological depravity. There is no argument with the fact that as soon as we are big enough to sin, we go directly into the business of sinning! But God is trying to reveal by His Holy Spirit the utter weakness of the child of God who is still putting his trust in himself.
Why does it take us so long to put our complete trust in God? He has made it so simple, so rewarding to yield what we are to Him!
We have each of us peculiar gifts and special manifestations; but the one object God has in view is, the perfecting of the whole body of Christ. We must, therefore, bring our spiritual possessions and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and make distribution unto all of what God has given to us. Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil, or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul. We too must bear our witness concerning Jesus.