“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24
I didn’t know I would come back to this verse, this truth today, but here I am. But I want to take a look at it in the terms of what was gleaned from yesterday’s time with You, Lord. And yesterday we started with a fig tree that wasn’t even producing immature fruit in it’s season, to mountains, or false teachers, raising themselves above God, and being thrown down, and back to a withered fig tree. And I want to think of this truth today in terms of false teaching because I believe there are a lot of mountains around me that need to be cast into the sea.
God’s calling is not like the world’s calling. And check me if I’m wrong, but it’s an individual calling. He speaks to us one on one about each of our specifics. He gifts us individually. And sometimes others don’t see those giftings or understand that calling for us because maybe it’s just not the direction they are looking. Maybe they are so focussed on God’s different calling for them, they can’t see it. Or maybe they haven’t even found God’s calling and don’t know how, so how can they understand someone elses? But what if I hear God’s calling, specific calling in my life? And what if I get excited about it and start preparing for it and living in it? How do I handle the opposition?
Well, I think that has a two fold response. First, I have to look at all opposition as God-ordained and God-allowed. After all, Lord, You do all things for my good. So, when people throw negative comments my way, I do need to examine them for truth. Maybe there is something in my life I need to correct. And like David, when he was having rocks thrown at him and being cursed as he walked along, he accepted the criticism in order to examine himself first and left it in the Lord’s hands to justify him. But what of the attitudes and criticism and disinterest that appear to fly in the face of Your calling, Lord?
Unfortunately, one of my responses after repeated and much criticism and misunderstanding is to be discouraged and overwhelmed. But You are telling me that is not a correct response. Because if I become discouraged and overwhelmed it will lead me to discourage someone else. And then I become a “false teacher” teaching wrong attitudes to others. And the fact is, our actions follow our attitudes and our actions show what we really believe. You tell me I am to “have faith in God.” I’m not to have faith in what other people say or think or the circumstances around me. I am to have faith in You.
This is what Paul reminds us in 1 Peter 5:8-9. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Chirst, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Now how is that for preparation for the storm and encouragement?! I ought to expect this opposition. But the devil sometimes uses others careless words or fears or own ambitions. Sometimes we make his work easy. It happens inside the church and outside. And it’s not even that we are to be watchful of him, but we need to be watchful of You. Because there is no resisting wrong thinking outside of firm faith in You.
“Without firm faith you will not be firmly established.” (Isaiah 7:9b) We live in a wavering world, tossed to and fro by a multitude of ideas. But only God’s ideas are firm and steady and grounded. I resist wrong ideas by being grounded and rooted deeply in You, Lord. How? I spend intimate time in Your Word seeking out Your heart for things. I make Your ways my ways. I let You teach me to love the things that You love. I obey. I rely on You. I trust Your words and Your whispers to me more than I trust any other word I hear. Does it agree with Your Word? Then I can believe it and count on it.
And another thing I can count on is that afflictions will come. When I choose Your way, I will undergo hardship and pain. People will try to influence me otherwise. It will become emotional. I suppose that’s because You are calling me and the world won’t want to let me go. It’s why parents don’t want their kids to be missionaries. They don’t want to let go. And You say that Satan is ruler of this world. Well, he certainly doesn’t want to lose someone to You. But he’s already lost me. And he’s already lost a lot of other people. And we know that nothing compares to being in the middle of Your will.
So any amount of afflictions is 100% worth being in the middle of Your will. But that’s not the only thing I have faith in. That is not the only encouragement You give me. You tell me that when Your time for me in the afflictions has come to an end, and when You have completed Your purpose in preparing me and building my faith, then in Your ongoing grace, You will perfect me, establish me, strengthen me, and settle me. Sigh of relief! I am looking forward to that day!
I can have faith that You are using everything in my life and arranging things so that I will be thoroughly fitted for what You have called me to. I will be able to handle wrong attitudes with grace and love and firmness. I will be able to handle difficult times with the same grace and love and strength in You. I will be set fast in You. I will be deeply rooted. I will not be swayed or my roots torn up by the storms people or events bring into my life. I’ll be entwined with You so deeply that there can be no separating us. You will strengthen me and I will find my vigor, my strength in You and from You. I will know You spiritually and in power. I will be settled and established in the midst of all the tumult, I will be at peace because You are my peace and You are the One I am settled in. You are my basis for belief and living. You are my basis for acting and singing and walking and breathing and being. And this is the promise I have in You.
So, I examine my calling. Does it line up with You? Is it from You? If so, whom shall I fear? “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God- those whom He has called according to His plan. This is true because He already knew His people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of His Son. Therefore, His Son is the firstborn among many children. He also called those whom He had already appointed. He approved of those whom He had called and He gave glory to those whom He had approved of. What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us!” (Romans 8:28-31) Lord, You are using these rough times to strengthen, establish, and set me firmly in You. You want my every thought. You want all my trust. You want my fear and my awe. I have no right to share it with anyone else. Your thoughts are above theirs, and I am to follow Your thoughts and Your ways. In all my ways I will acknowledge You and You will direct my path.
Therefore, I know this. “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” I know what the Lord has promised me. I know what the Lord has spoken within my heart. This is not only my prayer for me, this is His prayer for me. And when something is already His prayer for me, when I ask in agreement with Him, I can absolutely believe that I have received it and He is in the process of granting it to me. Even in the middle of pain and heartache and physical or financial suffering, I can know and believe that He is working out His beautiful individual plan for me and those around me. And it doesn’t have to matter what other people think. Because they aren’t the ones working out that plan. You are. I just need to learn to productively bide my time and keep my ears tuned on You.
Lord, right now it is so easy for me to fall into discouragement and doubt and fear. But all those things are of the enemy, not of You. I want my thoughts and my heart and my actions focussed on You. I want to learn to let the other thoughts being thrown at me roll off me like water on a duck’s back. I’m different. You made me that way. Actually, You’ve made us all uniquely different but for some reason we try to fit into molds, maybe because it’s easier and less painful. But I’m different, and simple, and plain, and unskilled by the world’s standards. I play with balloons. I dress up like a clown. I fiddle with illusions. Not serious stuff to the world, right? But anything when placed fully in Your hands becomes serious stuff that can tear down strongholds. You know, Lord, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m much by the world’s standards. I just want to be satisfied by being loved much by You and loving You much. Really, I want You to be much in me, and that will be more than enough. So Lord, that’s my prayer. That’s what I’m asking. And thank You that You are already doing this in me according to Your Word which is forever faithful.