Just Keep Praying

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Just Keep Praying’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 4/26/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1Q4i4Sz

Taking His Time

Let’s acknowledge the obvious: not all of our prayers are answered right away. First John 5 says that if we ask according to God’s will, He hears us; and if He hears us, our prayers are as good as answered (vv 14-15). But we don’t always get our answer right away.

So what do we do in that awkward calm: when we know God hears us, but we haven’t seen anything happen yet? How can we make sure we keep ourselves in a posture where we’re ready and able to receive when He’s ready and willing to bless? And how can we avoid falling into the trap the enemy sets for us in his attempts to steal our blessings from us?

All of us are praying for something. Whenever we pray, God can have one of three responses: 1) yes, 2) no or 3) not now. But what about cases of physical healing, where we know God’s will is to heal? Why do our prayers bear fruit right away in some cases, and take a while to develop in others? And when we don’t see fruit right away, what does it mean?

If we don’t see an answer to a Biblical prayer, it can mean one of two things: either 1) we are not adequately prepared for God to resolve our concern, or 2) Satan is trying to keep God’s answer from us.

In some cases, we’re simply not prepared for God to bless us in the ways we ask to be blessed. In Proverbs 30:8, King Agur makes a strange request of God:

“Give me neither poverty nor riches – feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.”

The king knew that if he stayed poor, he would compromise God’s name by disobeying His commandments. But he also knew that if he got too rich, he would do exactly the same thing!

God promises to bless us with everything we need to go out and accomplish His will for our lives. This is Biblical prosperity. When it comes to promotion, God might withhold what we’re asking for until we’re truly ready to receive it. When was the last time you asked God to increase your income? Probably very recently. But when was the last time you asked Him to hold off on the increase until you were really ready to use it wisely?

Our son, Clive, is ten months old. He reaches for everything. If he can get his hands on a cup or glass on the table, he’ll knock it to the floor. He doesn’t do it on purpose; he just sees something, and he wants it; so he asks for it in his own, aggressive way. Because he grabs for everything, we have to be very careful as his parents. The other morning, he reached for my hot mug of coffee (don’t worry; he didn’t get too close). He thinks he wants it, but doesn’t realize that if he actually got a hold of it, he would get burned. Do you see where I’m going with this?

It’s actually in your best interest for God to hold onto your blessing until you’re ready to receive it. But this only applies when it comes to promotion; wanting something more than what you already have. It rarely applies in cases of restoration: asking God to restore something that has been lost or stolen.

Restoration vs. Promotion

When it comes to restoration, waiting on an answer to prayer likely has very little to do with you. If you’re contending for physical healing and you haven’t seen it yet in your own body, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. This is where we go wrong in the church. In cases of restoration, unanswered prayer usually means that the enemy is trying to prevent something from getting to you.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Eph 6:12

I am not one to harp on spiritual warfare. Satan has already been defeated. Death has already been beaten, and Jesus conquered the grave. There is no fight left to be won. There is, however, territory left for us to repossess in Jesus’ name! While we don’t have to go out and fight our enemy, we do have to be aware that Satan is real so we can take authority over him!

Case Study: Daniel

Daniel was a man of prayer. On several occasions, he prayed to God that He would reveal what would happen to the people of Israel. He was so committed to prayer that he even risked his life to pray , and ended up in a lion’s den, after King Darius made prayer illegal. But even Daniel didn’t always get his answers to prayer right away:

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. – Dan 10:1-3

Daniel prayed, and he fasted. He did all the right things. But he still had to wait to hear from God. Finally, the answer came:

Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. – Dan 10:10-13

We see several things worth noting here. Daniel’s prayers had an immediate impact on heaven: his words were heard on the first day he prayed, and God’s messenger was immediately dispatched.

But Satan was standing in the way, trying to prevent Daniel from receiving the answer to his prayers. Daniel’s adversary sent a messenger to block God’s blessings from ever reaching him.

Could this be happening in your life? Is there something God wants to get to you that Satan is making sure doesn’t arrive? What’s your response in a situation like that? Do you cry out to God, and ask why He doesn’t want to bless you? Or do you acknowledge God’s faithfulness, identify the enemy you have in common with Him, and ask Him to send reinforcements?

Satan’s goal is to convince us that everything God sends is never going to arrive. When we take a delay in answered prayer to mean that God doesn’t love us, or want good things for us, Satan wins. But all we have to do to take back the victory is just keep praying.

Daniel didn’t see his prayers answered immediately, so he just kept praying. We see that as the result of his first prayer, God sent a messenger. We also see that as the result of his continuing, persistent prayer, God sent another messenger: Michael, one of the chief princes.

When you ignore what you don’t see yet, and just keep praying, God sends reinforcements. As reinforcements arrive, the enemy gets so tired and worn down that he abandons his opposition and we receive God’s blessings! We need to be persistent so the blessings God sends to us actually reach us!

Persistent Prayer

Jesus exhorted His disciples to pray persistently:

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.

- Luke 18:1-8

Paul exhorted the disciples to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Jesus said we should always pray, but then took it one step further: we should also pray without losing heart.

The widow in this story was seeking action from an unrighteous judge, and he complied. How much more will our Righteous Judge in heaven come to our aid! The widow in this story also had no advocate to fight on her behalf; but we have an Advocate in heaven Who is always willing to fight for us!

Notice that the widow never questioned if the judge could actually grant her petition. She knew he had the power and authority to make things happen. When she didn’t immediately see justice, she just kept asking. She was persistent, and eventually he sent more resources her way. The widow refused to be bound by the legal process (the Law), and made her petition directly to the Judge. The writer of Hebrews tells us to, “…boldly approach the throne of grace” (Heb 4:16) in the same way!

This widow knew how to be persistent. But there is a difference between being annoying and persistent. Persistence recognizes there’s something to be gained; annoyance, on the other hand, assumes there’s nothing to be had.

The point of praying without ceasing is not to be so annoying that God gives in; but rather to be so persistent that He is moved with compassion! Persistent prayer is a demonstration of faith. It means showing God we’re not afraid to hold out for the fullness of His promise. The enemy would love it if we settled for counterfeit blessing, and came up short on what God wants for us. But our responsibility as Christians is to hold out for the real thing!

God instructs us, His people, to never silence our prayer requests:

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Give Him no rest. – Is 62:6-7

God’s hope for our lives is that we would just keep praying until we see something happen! He needs change to take place on this earth, and you and I are the men and women He will use as prayer warriors to make sure it comes to pass!

Just Keep Praying

 

In Luke 11, Jesus tells His disciples how to pray, with the prayer we’ve come to know as, “the Lord’s prayer” (Lk 11:1-4). Then, He goes on to tell His disciples to keep seeking, asking and knocking, until they receive what God needs them to have (Lk 11:9-13). But in between those exhortations, He sandwiches another lesson on persistent prayer:

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. – Lk 11:5-8

The disciples had just learned how to pray, and Jesus immediately follows that teaching with instruction to never give up. When we are persistent, God will give us all the resources we need. Even when the enemy tries to intervene, God will continue to pour out resources from heaven until the enemy is completely overwhelmed by all the blessing coming towards us!

No matter what happens, just keep praying. If you feel like you can’t pray any more, just keep praying. If you feel silly, like you’ve made the same request one hundred times before, just keep praying. Your breakthrough might be released as you pray just one more time. If you can just pray one more time, you can get through anything. Even if you don’t see fruit right away, just pray one more time, and continue doing it until you see breakthrough!

There are other practical steps we can take when we’re waiting for our prayers to bear fruit. First, we can recruit more people to help:

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

- Matt 18:19-20

God’s Word constantly exhorts us to stay in community: to live life together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Your church family is here to pray for you. God guarantees that whenever we get together and pray for other people, He will be right there in the middle!

There is also such as thing as spiritual momentum. Find someone in your church, or your community, who has recently had prayers answered. Find someone who has been seeing miraculous testimonies in his or her life. When God starts to deliver on some of His promises, the rest of the answers often come speedily:

For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

- Matt 13:12

As we experience miraculous testimonies, our faith grows; and as our faith builds, we have the confidence to step out and pray for other people! Find someone in your church who has been experiencing breakthrough, and ask him or her to pray for you!

He Will Act

God will act on our behalf. Whenever we pray, we must know that He will deliver on His word. He does not do it only for our sake. In fact, He has much more at stake than we could ever imagine:

For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; for how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another. – Is 48:11

When we pray to God, according to His will, His name is on the line. He will not prevent answers – heavenly resources – from getting to us when it is His will to supply them. But until we see them, we have only one task: just keep praying!

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Day 120: Put Down Your Weapon

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Thursday, April 30th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 11:1-12:15
John 1:1-28
Psalm 101:1-8
Proverbs 14:13-14
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1o19jdQ

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, saying, “What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?” – Judges 11:12

Even though Jephthah knew that war was imminent, he communicated before he fought. He opened his mouth before he picked up his weapon. He approached his enemy and asked how he had wronged him. He went to great lengths, and calmly pursued logic, to make sure his cause was just. He pursued God’s will, and asked God to show him the right course of action.

How often do we take up arms before even finding out why our enemy approaches? How often to we fail to follow the Biblical model for conflict resolution, to approach our brother before we complain to everyone else (Matt 18:15)? How often do we assume that everyone else is wrong, and we are right?

When you feel like jumping into battle, take a deep breath. We don’t have to fight if God is willing to fight for us. And if He is not willing to fight for us, we should not fight at all.

Prayer:

Father, my flesh always tries to get the best of me. Help me to control my emotions, in Jesus’ name! I know You are fighting for me, so I have no reason to jump into battle unless You lead!

Day 119: The Power of Communion

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Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 9:22-10:18
Luke 24:13-53
Psalm 100:1-5
Proverbs 14:11-12
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1ivY8o6

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…” – Lk 24:31

Jesus was raised from the dead. The disciples on the road to Emmaus had no idea they were walking and talking with Jesus. But when they took Communion, everything changed.

Communion opens our eyes so we can see Who Jesus Is. The disciples did not know they were face to face with Jesus until they took bread, blessed it and broke it. Once they had celebrated Communion, they saw Him clearly!

Communion is the most powerful meal we can ever eat. It is the key to refreshing our relationship with God in a tangible, concrete way. It is essential for our physical health. It’s a reminder of everything Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross for us: the Old Covenant was fulfilled on our behalf, and we were baptized by the blood of Jesus Christ into a New Covenant ruled by grace and mercy. Don’t forget to take communion!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the power in the Communion meal. Thank You that as I eat the bread and drink the cup, I remember Your promise to me. Thank You that by the blood of Jesus, I am healed!

Day 118: Remember How He Spoke to You

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Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 8:18-9:21
Luke 23:44-24:12
Psalm 99:1-9
Proverbs 14:9-10
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1IhgXN5

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Remember how He spoke to you… – Lk 24:6

Jesus had already told His disciples that He would be crucified, and rise again on the third day. But as soon as calamity struck, and Jesus was led off to be killed, they forgot everything He had promised. Even after the women at the tomb ran to tell the eleven that Jesus is alive, they “…did not believe them” (v 11).

Sometimes, when stuff hits the fan, we forget how God spoke to us before everything seemed to go wrong. Remember what He said. As surely as Jesus rose from the dead, God’s promises will come to pass.

Remember how God spoke to you when you experienced the greatest season of intimacy you’ve ever had with Him. Remember how He spoke to you when you were in the toughest trial of your life, and how He delivered on all His promises. Remember how God spoke to you before you found yourself between a rock and a hard place. If Jesus was raised from a tomb, God can resurrect you from the darkest, deepest place you’ve ever been!

Prayer:

Father, help me to remember the promises You have spoken over my life! Thank You for Your faithfulness, mercy and compassion. I will trust in Your word until I see it come to pass!

Day 117: Final Moments

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Monday, April 27th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 7:1-8:17
Luke 23:13-43
Psalm 97:1-98:9
Proverbs 14:7-8
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/QNFzWM

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – Lk 23:43

Jesus hung on the Cross next to two criminals. Both of those men were deserving of the punishment they received. Yet Jesus had done nothing wrong.

As they were dying, one of the men blasphemed Jesus, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us” (Lk 23:39). The other man recognized that Jesus Is the Messiah, and asked Him to remember him when He entered into the Kingdom of God. Jesus answered with a promise that his sins would be forgiven!

Salvation is possible up until our last breath. No man or woman is beyond saving. All of us deserve to die for our sins, but every one of us can receive everlasting life when we trust in Jesus Christ. Don’t wait until it’s too late: give your life to Christ, and rest in the fullness of His promise!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that salvation is a gift! I love You because You loved me first. I give my life to be used by You!

Day 116: Too Busy Complaining

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Sunday, April 26th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 6:1-40
Luke 22:54-23:12
Psalm 95:1-96:13
Proverbs 14:5-6
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1imDvL4

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about…’” – Judges 6:13

When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon to encourage him to walk out his destiny, Gideon mocked Him. “The Lord is with you,” God said (v 12). But Gideon was using all his energy to complain. “You [are a] mighty man of valor!” God said. But Gideon was so busy complaining that he didn’t realize God was in his midst!

Gideon was weak (Judges 6:15), but God made him strong. As soon as Gideon stopped complaining and believed God’s words, two things happened: 1) the Holy Spirit fell on him (v 34), and 2) he was filled with boldness.

Gideon went on to become one of the greatest warriors Israel had ever seen. What is God getting ready to do through you?

Prayer:

Father, help me to stop complaining! I know that whenever I complain, I give place to the enemy (Eph 4:27). But when I believe everything You say about me and step out in faith, my destiny cannot be stopped!

Day 115: Avoiding Temptation

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Saturday, April 25th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 4:1-5:31
Luke 22:35-53
Psalm 94:1-23
Proverbs 14:3-4
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1nsKE4p

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Lk 22:40

Jesus instructed the disciples to pray, in advance, that they would not enter into temptation. Psychologists have defined this principle as self-care: making necessary arrangements to give our souls what we need before we burn out.

Very few of us sin because we hate God. We rarely sin because we have malicious intent. We sin because we’re tired. We get weary, and we forget to pray; and at that moment, the enemy dangles temptation in front of us to entice us to sin!

Practice a lifestyle of Sabbath rest. Stop and listen for God’s voice. Pray often, and in advance. Take care of your soul. God will help you to avoid temptation before you ever encounter it.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the power of prayer! Thank You for watching over me, and teaching me to avoid situations where I’ll find myself compromised and without hope. Help me to avoid temptation, in Jesus’ name!

Day 114: Do Not Fear

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Friday, April 24th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 2:10-3:31
Luke 22:14-34
Psalm 92:1-93:5
Proverbs 14:1-2
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1ijgfxv

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you…” (Lk 22:32).

Satan asked for Peter, just as he had asked for Job. But whereas Job had no mediator to intercede for him, Peter did! Jesus stood in the gap and prayed for Peter so that Satan would not have access to him. Under the New Covenant, He does the same for every believer!

Jesus is our Mediator. Whenever Satan asks for us, Jesus stands in between Satan’s request and God’s ears. He holds up His hand, and refuses the enemy access to us as we stand our ground in faith.

Do not fear the enemy. He is already defeated. What’s more, Jesus has given us complete authority over Him:

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. – Lk 10:19

Prayer:

Father, thank You for giving me complete authority over Satan. When I feel weak, remind me of the authority and power You have given me in the name of Jesus! Help me to use that authority to expand Your kingdom.

Double Restoration

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Double Restoration’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 4/19/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1Jzmddh

The God of Restoration

The Lord has been speaking to me this week about a place in which we can all find ourselves from time to time. We pray with faith, according to God’s word. But nothing happens. What do we do in the interim: between releasing our faith through prayer, and seeing that which we’ve prayed for manifest in front of our eyes?

We’re dealing with that next week. Sorry! This week, before we get to talking about persistent prayer, we need to establish that God is the God Who Restores. He’s in the business of complete restoration. Better still, He doesn’t just want to restore everything you’ve lost: He wants to restore double!

Restoring Job

Job went through a lot. Satan asked for Job (see Job 1:7-12). That’s right: Job’s suffering was brought on by Satan, not by God. Satan asked for Job, and there was no Mediator to stand and tell him Job was off limits. However, under the New Covenant, Jesus Christ is our Mediator. When we give our lives to Jesus, He stands and dictates that Satan is not allowed to touch us.

At the end of forty-two chapters of agony, we see Job restored:

So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. – Job 42:9-10a

When the text says God “restored” Job’s losses, it means that Job was redeemed from captivity. All the blessings in Job’s life, which the enemy had taken from him, were given back into his hand.

Notice that Job was restored as he prayed for his friends. Sometimes, our breakthrough comes when we forget about our own problems and start to pray for other people.

My wife and I run the Healing Rooms at CityLight Church, and we see this principle in practice all the time. We have some volunteers who have been, at times, contending for miraculous breakthrough in their own lives. When they devote themselves to prayer for their own situation, nothing happens. But when they show up and start to pray for other people, God releases the miraculous in their lives!

God will get blessings to us if He knows He can get them through us! By praying for others, we demonstrate to God that whatever He gives us is going to be multiplied. So, are you in need of a breakthrough? Forget about yourself and start praying for others!

After Job prays for his friends, we see Him restored:

Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. – Job 42:10b-11

God gave Job twice as much as he had before! We see God’s promise of full restoration come to pass: everything the enemy had stolen from Job was completely restored. When you trust in God, and stand on His promise for double restoration, He will do exactly the same for you as He did for Job!

God gives us something else to note here. Job had some subpar friends. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (v 9) had already made Job’s life miserable. Job needed his friends to simply show up, shut up, and bear his loss with him – in total silence. Instead, all of his friends chimed in and offered their opinions as to why God was punishing Job. They added insult to injury. We must be careful to ensure we don’t do the same when we set out to minister to our friends!

After Job is restored, it gets even worse! All his friends, “…came to him and ate food with him in his house” (v 11)! When Job needed help, and consolation, these people were nowhere to be found. But once he was restored, all the rats came out of the woodwork.

As God leads you out of lack and into full restoration, remember this: people are funny. As God blesses you, friends you haven’t heard from in years will reach out to you. Those people who ridiculed and despised you when you were going through a really tough time will show up at your doorstep and ask to share in the spoils of victory.

We should expect this. We can’t get upset when people abandon us in our hour of need; and we shouldn’t get upset when they use our restoration as an opportunity to get back in our good graces. Don’t let your “friends” catch you by surprise. Be ready for this, and it won’t hurt nearly as much when the moment arrives.

Despite his funny friends, Job ended his life in a state of total blessing:

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters…After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days. – Job 42:12-13, 16-17

At the end of his life, Job was completely satisfied. Satan did his best to make him miserable, but God used the evil brought on by Satan for Job’s good. All things worked together for his good because he never lost sight of his first love (Rom 8:28).

Loss of Possession

Some of us have lost our most prized possessions. God has promised us amazing things, but they just haven’t been happening in our lives.

Sometimes, we fall into sin, and give up God’s promises. We cede control of God’s blessings over us, just as Adam and Eve did, because we reach out and grab something Satan wants us to have instead. Our human nature constantly puts us in a state of being willing to forsake God’s promises through disobedience.

Other times, the enemy steals something from us. We trust in God and stand on His promises, but we don’t see His blessings materialize in our lives because Satan is working overtime to make sure they never get to us. If we don’t recognize his attempts to steal, and rebuke him in the name of Jesus, Satan can steal that which rightfully belongs to us.

No matter how we lose our inheritance – whether it’s some fault of our own, or the result of Satan’s crafty deceit – God will always restore us when we trust in Him.

When we lose out on the blessings God intends for us, we get trapped thinking we’d be lucky just to gain back what we’ve lost. Satan wants to convince us that we didn’t deserve what we had, and that even getting back to a prior state is the best we could ever hope for from God.

But God needs us to know that He has better for us. Our temptation is to settle, and wish we had a counterfeit for God’s promise; but He wants us to double down, and hold out for the real thing!

Israel in the Wilderness

The children of Israel came up out of Egypt with boldness (Ex 14:8). They trusted in God’s promises, and they had a fearless leader to lead them into everything God had prepared for them. But as soon as they hit adversity, something switched. They were filled with fear, and they suddenly doubted God’s willingness to bless them:

And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” – Ex 14:10-12

We know, as people with the benefit of the full counsel of God, that Israel was just about to experience the greatest victory the world had ever seen! They approached the edge of the Red Sea, and God was about to showcase His power through the hands of Moses. But then fear took root.

The Israelites experienced their moment of deepest despair when they were right on the verge of breakthrough. Have you ever noticed this principle in your own life? When God is about to do something amazing, Satan shows up to try and convince you that God isn’t real, or that He doesn’t do what He says He’ll do.

Two chapters later, the Israelites find themselves in a similar situation. Finding themselves without food, they lift their voices in complaint: against Moses, but also against God. They had already forgotten that the Lord had just caused an ocean to stand upright so they could pass through it. Fear took hold again:

And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

- Ex 16:1-3

The children of Israel were so hungry they could die. Yet instead of crying out to God in faith, they cried out to Him with complaint.

When we feel like complaining the most, God is right about to do something supernatural. When we feel like crying out to God, and questioning His goodness, He is right about to do something great. He did it for Israel:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.

– Ex 16:4

And He will do it for you! Don’t settle for partial restoration; hold our for double restoration. Don’t be content with the shadow of His promise; instead, hold out for the fullness of His promise!

So what do we do as we wait for restoration? We’ll devote an entire to that question next week. For now, let’s keep it simple: trust in God, and feed on His faithfulness (Ps 37:3). Know that His desire is to restore everything you’ve lost, and then add to your blessings so much more!

Double Restoration

God promises us double restoration. It does not matter what the enemy would have us believe: if we are to glorify God, we must hold out for the fullness of His promise to us.

Don’t settle. When the children of Israel came up against an obstacle, they wanted to run back into the arms of their captors. When they couldn’t find food, they longed to be back in Egypt, eating meat and bread as slaves. When Job was given over to suffering, he wished he was dead! He wanted to return to a pre-Promise state: devoid of pain, but also lacking blessing.

Our natural reaction whenever we find ourselves in a time of immense trial is to settle. But God doesn’t want us to settle. He doesn’t desire that we accept counterfeit blessing, and allow the enemy to convince us that we aren’t meant for anything more. Don’t accept anything less than everything God wants to deliver into your hand!

Isaiah prophesied of double restoration. He outlined the promises to which we would be entitled after Jesus died on the Cross for our sins:

“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.” – Is 61:7

Jesus died for our shame; and in exchange He gives us His righteousness. Not only are we restored from sin, but we’re also promoted to a place of eternal blessing. That’s double restoration at work. The by-product of double honor is rejoicing; and the fruit of double possession is everlasting joy!

Zechariah also spoke of the double restoration that would come after the Messiah lived and died for us:

“As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” – Zech 9:11-12

We live in the time Isaiah and Zechariah were waiting for! We are meant to inherit the full promise of God. We are designed to experience double restoration: not because we deserve it, but because Jesus purchased it on our behalf!

 

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Day 113: Ask Questions!

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Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Judges 1:1-2:9
Luke 21:29-22:13
Psalm 90:1-91:16
Proverbs 13:24-25
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1icG0FJ

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” – Judges 1:1

When Joshua died, God didn’t stop speaking. The children of Israel still expected to hear from God, even though their designated spokesman had moved on to life after death. We know they expected to hear from God because they asked Him questions!

Asking questions is one of the best ways we can open ourselves up to hear from heaven. Too often, we pray in statements. We know what we want, and we simply ask God to make it happen. The built-in assumption is that what we want is best.

But what God wants is better! Ask God questions, and make room to listen. “Where do you want me to go today? What do you want me to do? Who do you want me to talk to?” When we call, He will answer. This is the promise God has made to us:

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. – Ps 91:15

Prayer:

Father, help me to ask questions. I know that when I call upon You, You will answer. I’m going to make time in my daily schedule to stop and listen to You!

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