Have you ever had one of those times where you felt God was calling you to do something, but you only partially did it, or maybe you did it but took way longer than you should have because you procrastinated due to fear or doubt? Never right? Well, for the rest of us, this type of behavior can rob us of blessings we cannot even imagine. Sure, we would like to believe that if God told us to do something important we would do it, but the reality is, we often don’t–why do we do this, and how can we stop?
God Usually Tests Our Hearts, Not Our Minds
Rather than test us on things that are easy for our minds to comprehend, God often tests us by asking us to do things we do not understand, or things we do not clearly see the benefit from
We see this pattern throughout the Bible, as God often promises things that look impossible or he asks people to do things that look like they would have a terrible outcome–God expects us to do what we are asked, or believe what we are told, completely out of faith
The funny thing is, we believe in God’s promises of forgiveness, love, eternal life in heaven, etc… but sometimes when it comes to his word or voice telling us to do something we do not want to obey or accept, we ignore it or simply disobey
Behaving this way is like marrying someone for their money, acting like we love them, and then completely disregarding their feelings and requests within the relationship
Kind of gross when you look at it that way huh?
The things we dig our heels in over are the very things that we need to let go of, ie: finding a spouse, being accepted by our friends, having material wealth, sexual relationships, partying, etc… as these things are more important to us, whether we want to see it or not, than how much we value God’s feelings
How much we trust God with our lives when he asks us to do something “impossible”, or when it involves letting go of something we want to hold on to, is an uncompromising reflection of our relationship with him as it reveals the true nature of our hearts, ie: do we trust him or do we back away and trust our own desires?
Miracles And Gifts Are Held Back Because Of Doubt And Fear More Than Anything Else
We can all agree Jesus knew a thing or two about miracles, but because of the doubt the people in his hometown had about him, he was unable to perform many miracles there!
Do not forget that Jesus was the illegitimate carpenter’s son turned Messiah, that everyone thought was a disgrace because his mother got pregnant with him before she was married
On top of this, if Jesus was a carpenter, it meant that he did not pass the training to be a Rabbi (most Jewish children tested for this as it was a very prestigious position in their society and very few made the cut), but here he was, claiming to be the Messiah and having wisdom that blew away everyone–and he went around performing miracles no less
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith
Read this passage carefully, it is really amazing
It says that Jesus showed up to his hometown with his disciples, these were not just the twelve apostles but were potentially dozens if not hundreds of people who were following Jesus because they had witnessed miracles and believed he was the Messiah, but somehow, the people in his town actually took offense at him because of their disbelief despite everything they heard and the testimony of those around him
Not only that, but it says Jesus “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them”
This is the same Jesus who raised the dead, cast out demons, and did all sorts of crazy things, but he was now unable to perform miracles because of the lack of faith and doubt of the people around him
Why was this?
It is simple: God is not going to jump through hoops to prove he is real, if people do not love him he is not going to manifest his glory
A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces
Well, God might show up to prove people wrong who do not believe in him, but when he did people usually got burnt to a crisp, not a good second option!
Another good example of doubting in the midst of a miracle is when Peter walked on water, he was right in the middle of doing it, then for some reason doubted God’s power and fell right in
This would be like watching God raise a dead person and doubting it was happening right in the middle of the miracle, crazy!
“Come,” he said
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
We all kind of laugh at this, but notice that Peter never got another chance to prove his faith in this way while Jesus was alive, which is an important lesson to learn–doubt may rob us once, and forever after, of great blessings
Imagine if Abraham had doubted he would have a son, what if Moses doubted God would deliver the Israelites, or what if Jesus doubted he was the Son of God?
Those Who Truly Walk With God Trust Him With Their Lives
Look at David, Jesus, Elijah, Abraham, etc…
These people all believed in miracles before they happened, often announcing them ahead of time in full view of the people around them, without any hesitation or doubt, knowing full well that God would do something amazing, even if they did not see how, even if it meant they would die or be humiliated if God did not intervene in some way
1 Samuel 17:45-47
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands”
1 Kings 18:36-39
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again”
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend
On the flip side of this, look at the example of the rich young ruler Jesus spoke to, Jesus knew that he loved money more than God, and he did not spare his feelings, but went right after him
(Also, notice that this passage says Jesus “loved him” before he owned his face!)
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth
Are We Prepared To Call Down Fire From Heaven, Or Do We Struggle Just To Write Our Name At The Top Of The Test Paper?
In a lot of cases within our every day lives, God tests us by asking us to do things that contradict the ways we typically think, which only leaves two options for us to respond with: come out of our comfort zones, or burrow into them further and away from God
Since God loves to test us in ways that challenge us, it means he wants us to grow, as what would be the point in giving us tests where the questions are always as tough as: 2 + 2 = ?
That would not be much of a test would it?
But how do we know if we are ready for tests, and how do we know if we will fail or succeed?
We Do Not Always Know Where We Stand Until We Are Tested
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart
The truth is, God does not promise we will pass every test, in fact, there are cases when he knows we will fail, and he allows us to be put in situations where we are humbled in some way, which often reminds us that we need to depend on him more, or it exposes weaknesses in our character that need to be addressed (or both!)
For example, we all know Peter was famous for shooting his mouth off without thinking, and just before Jesus was arrested, he openly told Peter satan had asked to test him
During this conversation, Jesus directly told Peter that he would fail the test as well
And wouldn’t you know it, rather than beg for strength or wisdom, Peter shot his mouth off like he always did!
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me”
God usually only subjects us to these types of situations when we are not learning lessons through gentle correction, but he does it because he loves us
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him
Everyone knows this verse, but it is often totally overlooked that it says “he who spares the rod hates his son”, the word “hate” is a really, really strong word by anyone’s standards
So the next time you feel like God is calling you to do something amazing, lay something down that you are afraid to (he will replace it something better, ie: him!), or even just believe in the impossible, consider that the one speaking to you is the same one who spoke all of creation into existence–it is probably a good idea to not only listen, but also to obey!
Do not settle for standing on the shore or falling into the ocean, boldly lay hold of a faith that can move mountains–you can change your life right now by listening to God’s voice whether in the Word or when he speaks to you in prayer