Archive for July, 2007

Claiming promises, the prayer of Jabez, and II Chronicles 7:14

Thursday, July 26th, 2007 at 9:43 pm

In the Bible, we find many promises. Some promises are conditional and some are unconditional. Some promises are to specific people and then other promises are for anyone to claim. How do we know what promises we can claim as our own? Certainly, the promises that anyone can claim can be identified because they are addressed to “whosoever.” These types of promises can be found in familiar passages such as John 3:16 (whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life) and Romans 10:13 (for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved).

A few years ago, a book was written about the prayer of Jabez found in I Chronicles 4:10:

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

The book written about this prayer told us that we could pray this prayer and be blessed as Jabez was – that we could claim this as a promise for ourselves. Is this one of those promises that we can claim for ourselves? Before answering that, let us look at one more popular passage:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

This passage is frequently invoked as a means for the United States to return to a more godly nation. We are told this promise is one that we can claim for our own nation. However, this “promise” is in reality an answer to Solomon’s prayer from chapter 6 of II Chronicles. God was answering Solomon’s prayer. Big deal, you say? After all, God is no respecter of persons and so we can expect Him to answer our prayer in the same way so you think. But that is not necessarily the case. Just because we pray the exact same thing as someone else, that is no guarantee that God will answer it in the exact same way. In fact, one person, David, prayed the same thing twice and he received two different answers from God:

And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them. And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. So they came up to Baal-perazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baal-perazim. And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire. And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley. Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines. David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer. 1 Chronicles 14:8-16

Notice that David was faced with the same situation twice and inquired of God twice. Also notice that God answered David with two different commands. If God doesn’t always answer the same prayer from the same person in the same way, why should we expect that He would answer the same prayer from two different people in the same way? It is presumptuous on our part to think God would do so. Praying the prayer of Jabez is no guarantee that God would grant our request as He did for Jabez. And if Christians in the U.S. would humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, that is no guarantee that God will heal our land. That is what God promised to Solomon. It is not a general promise to whosoever wants to claim it. The answer to Jabez’ prayer is the answer for Jabez. It is not a general promise to whosoever wants to claim it.

We need to be careful about the context and we need to be careful about claiming promises for ourselves that are answers for someone else’s prayer.

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by gahammerle

What God sees and what man sees

Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 2:48 pm

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Men saw whited sepulchres; God saw dead-men’s bones Matthew 23:27.

Men saw two mites; God saw all her living Mark 12:42-44.

Men saw someone who tithes, fasts, and keeps the law; God saw a self-righteous sinner Luke 18:9-12

Men saw a vile publican; God saw an opportunity for His mercy Luke 18:9-14.

Men saw the waste of ointment; God saw an act of worship Mark 14:2-9.

Men saw unlearned and ignorant men; God saw tools meet for the Master’s use Acts 4.

What do you see?

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by gahammerle

God rested

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 at 3:08 pm

I recently read a passage of a book that a prominent Baptist pastor wrote. At first I felt disbelief at what I saw which quickly turned to anger. Apparently this pastor does not believe in the same all-powerful God in which I believe. He certainly is not describing the God of the Bible. Here is the passage from his book:

God must be waiting for somebody somewhere sometime in His lifetime where He says, “Now, that’s a hard one. That’s a tough one.” I want to be the one who makes God say that. I want to be one human being, that in God’s lifetime, He looks at me when I meet him, and will say, “You rascal, you put me to the test.” I want Him to say, “Cottonpick, Jack, you made Me roll up my sleeves, and I even broke a sweat coming through for you.”

Further on, he writes:

I want to go to God, and for God to say, “It’s too hard. Ask for something else!” I want to nag Him, and nag Him, and finally get Him to say, “Okay, you can have what you want, but I’ll have to work at that.”

I want God to roll up His sleeves for some church and say, “Wow! You have asked a hard thing. This will take all I’ve got. This will take My omnipotence; but, I’ll do it for you.” I want something difficult. I want something real. I want something genuine. I want something where God steps back and says, “Let Me rest a minute. That was a hard request. ‘Thou hast asked a hard thing.'”

He continues:

I wonder if God’s ever said to anybody, “Wow, that’s a hard one. I don’t know if I can do that. You’re asking Me something that’s going to take a mighty big God to do that.” That will take the God who only one time in His entire recorded book said, “I had to rest after I did that.”

You haven’t seen it all yet.

Let’s train up a generation to rise up, so God says, “Wow! Even I never thought I could do that.”

Is this god the God of the Bible? Doesn’t the God of the Bible know everything and isn’t the God of the Bible all-powerful? Read more of what this pastor wrote:

I want God to one day say in Heaven, “You know what? There was a generation one time on the earth, and they put Me to the test. I didn’t know I could do what I did, but I did it! I sweated, and I rolled up my sleeves, and said, ‘Look what We did together.'”

I want God to see how big He is. I want God to know how strong He is. The Bible says in II Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong…” God says, “I’m not sure I know how strong I am because I’ve never met anybody who’s willing to test My strength.”

“How big a barbell can You pick up, God?”

God says, “Every one I’ve tried, I’ve picked up. How big of a one have you got?”

“God, how fast can You throw that football?”

God says, “Every football I’ve picked up, I’ve passed it. Which one do you want Me to pass?

“God, how wide a river have You ever parted?”

He said, “The biggest is the Jordan. It was swollen over.”

“What’s the biggest body of water?”

“The Red Sea.”

“How big a body of water could You part?”

“I don’t know. Those are the only two anybody’s ever needed Me or asked Me to part.”

“How big of a church can You build, God?”

“Well, the biggest I’ve ever built is in Hammond. You’re sitting in it.”

“How big a church could you build, God?”

“I don’t know. That’s the only one anybody’s asked Me to build.”

“How big a Sunday school could You build?”

“I don’t know. Nobody’s asked Me much to help them build their Sunday school. They want me to bless them, but they don’t know what that means. They don’t want a double portion. They just want to keep it maintained.”

I don’t want to maintain anything. I don’t want status quo. I don’t want things as they are. I want to sweat and I want God to sweat. “God, I want You to roll up Your sleeves. God, I want You to work so hard You’ve got to say, ‘Time out. I need a break. I’ve got to sit down and rest a little while. Time out. I need to bring you up in the Rapture. I’m getting too old for this.'”

Does our God ever say “I don’t know?” Does our God ever say He needs a break – He needs a time-out? Does our God ever say He is getting too old? Not the God of the Bible. This pastor made up his little, weak, frail god from this:

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Genesis 2:2

This pastor thinks God rested because He was tired from the creation week. God didn’t rest because He was tired. It just means God ended his works of creation. That’s all. Our God spoke everything into existence. It was not a hard thing for Him. He could have kept on speaking things into existence, but that was all He wanted to create.

Don’t paint my God as some weak, little wimp. You will find out on judgment day you were wrong.

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by gahammerle

Matthew 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name

Monday, July 9th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

This verse is frequently taken out of context and misapplied. I think I have only heard this verse correctly preached in its context one time out of the hundreds of times I have heard it. Most of the time, this verse is used in the context of believers meeting together in a church service. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: when you come to church, Jesus is in the midst of the service because there are at least two or three gathered together. While Jesus is certainly in the midst of any gathering of believers, the context of this verse is not dealing with a normal church service and therefore, this verse is incorrectly used if applied that way. The context of the passage is church discipline. When the Lord Jesus Christ says that if two or three are gathered together in his name, that he would be in the midst thereof, he is saying that when church discipline has been carried to its final step (the unrepentant church member has been brought before the church and fellowship has been withdrawn) and the members have agreed to withdraw fellowship, that Jesus supports that action – his being in the midst means that he is in agreement that when someone refuses to hear the church, that person should be treated as a heathen and a publican.

If you think about it, if this verse really meant that Jesus is in the midst when two or three are gathered together, what about when a believer is by himself? Is not Jesus there also? Does not Christ dwell in every believer?

Don’t misuse this verse and apply it to normal church services. We should get the meaning from the context.

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by gahammerle