As I was reading Matthew’s Gospel recently this verse stood out to me, “If you then, being 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!” (Matthew 7:11 NKJV). As the Christmas season approaches I’m sure you’ve recently thought about a gift you could get for your spouse, your best friend, your children, or even a neighbor. How did you know that was a gift the recipient would like? Most likely because they either specifically asked you for it and expressed it was something they would like.
God is the same way. He knows things that we would like, for example a better running car, wisdom at our jobs, or a more peaceful life, but if we never go to Him and ask then we are sadly missing out on His promises. Early in Matthew chapter 7 it says, “For everyone who asks receives..” (v.8 NKJV)
God is a loving, generous, liberal giver, so when we ask Him for anything that aligns with His word, He will give it to us. But the key is that we must ask. I once knew a man who said he never asked God for anything, he would only pray and thank God for whatever he already had.
While that may be nice, the Word clearly shows us that God wants to bless us, and that we need to ask for it! God already knows our desires and our needs, but when we come to Him and ask for something that shows our trust in Him and proves that we know not only can He fulfill our desires but that He wants to.
Remember though, there is always a waiting period. It may be an hour, two days, or 6 months. Having to wait for whatever you have prayed to God about does not mean He’s not answering you! Just like a child may ask their parents for a certain Christmas gift in September, even if the parents purchase it, the child still won’t receive it until the end of December.
This week, determine to ask God for one thing – a need, a desire, something for someone else – whatever it may be, put your trust in the fact that our heavenly Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him.
Naturally our minds first go to our income, living status, and if we have to answer to anyone at our jobs. But spiritually speaking, are you independent or dependent?
It is great to be proactive and work to get things done on your own but for the sake of hopefully growing even more with our heavenly Father, let’s look at a few definitions of “independent”.
- Not requiring or relying on something else: not contingent
- Not subject to control by others
- Not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct
As a believer it’s crucial to your relationship with God to rely on Him, Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith it is impossible to please him”. To rely on the Holy Spirit in our daily activities can greatly increase our ability to hear His voice, as well as strengthen our relationship with Him. No, it’s not necessary to ask the Holy Spirit what shirt you should wear for the day, but putting your faith in Him to give you wisdom on how to talk to unsaved people around you, or to give you better ideas at work is a great way to amplify His voice.
Submission is also important because as a believer we are under the authority most importantly of God, but also of our bosses, pastors, volunteer leads, school professors, etc. Unless these people are asking us to do things directly contrary to the Bible, listening to their direction and showing them respect is honorable to God.
Ultimately, God’s knowledge and guidance is the most accurate and beneficial direction we should take. Still, the counsel of fellow believers or your pastor can help you tremendously. We should always revert back to the Word and make sure whatever we have been told lines up with scripture before we take action. That does not mean though, that we should throw out the idea of receiving guidance from those who have been through what we are going through or are on a higher level than us spiritually.
Can you think of areas in your life where you could further be dependent on God? Here are a couple ways to begin that dependence:
- Read the Bible daily. Take note of God’s character and the stories of triumph when other men and women in the Bible relied on Him.
- Recall your own testimonies. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past is a great way to build your trust in Him.
I know many people who are immensely proud of their independence and their personal accomplishments, which is by no means wrong, but when we look at it from the point of view of our relationship with the Lord, it’s possible we may need to adjust some things.
Personally, I am not a gardener but I do know the basic principles of successful gardening so that what you plant will grow. You plant the seed in good soil, water it, keep weeds away from it, and in a few weeks or months you have the flowers, fruit, or vegetables you were expecting.
So what would happen if I bought a tomato plant, for example, planted it in rich nutrient soil, but then never watered it? That would be pointless, right? We have to nourish the seeds we want to grow! This principle is the same in our prayer life, we must nourish the seed of our prayers.
When you pray for something – a family members salvation, healing in your body, restoration in a relationship, a new vehicle, the finances to go on a missions trip – whatever it may be, we must water those prayers.
I don’t mean that we need to beg God to answer us because when we do that we’re in doubt. No, when we pray we know He answers us and because of that, we nourish our prayers. We continue to thank God that whatever we prayed for is done. That His healing power has gone into our body, that the finances we need are on their way, and that that lost family member or friend’s heart is open to hear and receive His truth and salvation.
Often times we say a prayer, believe in something for a moment, but then forget to water it. Continue to lift up your situation to God in thanksgiving of His goodness and provision until you see it come to pass in your life – then praise Him some more!
Today I saw an old beat up mallet and weirdly enough, it reminded me of us as believers. The stained wooden handle was dented and covered in scratches, while the rubber head had knicks from every angle. As I looked at this used tool, I realized it was still just that – a tool.
As Christians we think that we must be perfect to be effectively used in the Kingdom of God, but God did not call us to be perfect. Just as this mallet with all of its damages could still powerfully be used, in our imperfections, we can too.
This then made me think of Paul and his past. Before miraculously coming to Christ, he zealously persecuted and killed Christians. Most of us would immediately write him off as someone God would never use, but God saw through to his heart and knew that he could be a mighty vessel for His kingdom.
Exodus chapter 4 also came to my mind, when the Lord is speaking to Moses and Moses immediately looks at himself and decides he cannot be a witness for God because he was slow and not eloquent in his speech. God then asked him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11 NKJV)
Our Heavenly Father created us; He knows our strengths and our weaknesses better than we know them ourselves. Which means He knows where to place us in the Body of Christ where we will be the most effective in edifying each other and reaching the lost.
What giftings are in you that God wants to pull out, despite your mistakes or sin, to glorify Him and bring more people into His kingdom?
The devil has a plan to seclude us, make us feel like an outsider, and tell us no one else understands or is going through the same things that we are. He wants us to feel entirely alone because as humans, God created us with a desire for community and fellowship.
Sadly, even in a world occupied by nearly 8 billion people, he succeeds. When we’re having a bad day, we make a mistake, or are going through a challenging time, we often feel alone like no one cares about our situation or could help.
At that moment we have to remember we have the Spirit of God living on the inside of us, comforting us, guiding us, and loving us. John 14:16-17 says, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
Jesus gives us a promise in these two verses concerning the Holy Spirit – that He will be our helper and will abide with us forever. We can never truly be alone because our heavenly Father is always for us and always with us.
There are definitely times in life when we feel alone and overwhelmed by our circumstances, but letting those thoughts dominate our mind can cause even bigger problems like insecurities, anxiety, or depression. Instead, turn to God in these times and remember He sent His spirit to comfort us and dwell in us.