Here I was asking God why He hadn’t done certain things in my life.
God, don’t you care?
You said You would take care of me.
Then an opportunity that I missed years ago came around again.
And now I realize that God had answered my prayer years ago, but when the answer came, I didn’t recognize it because all I could see was fear and unbelief.
I’m not smart enough.
This is too good to be true.
I was like the church who was constantly praying for Peter to be released from prison, but when God released the answer – when the answer to their prayer knocked on the door, they didn’t open the door because they didn’t believe. Rhoda, a servant girl – a slave girl, recognized the answer. Not the church. And she just didn’t believe that it was Peter, but she knew his voice.
But thank God Peter knocked and knocked again until they opened the door.
And thank God that He caused the opportunity that I missed last time to knock again – until I opened the door.
For some of us, the answer has already been released and I pray that we all recognize it when it comes.
[Reference scripture: Acts 12:5-16]
Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me…that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth (Isaiah 30:1-2).
The Assyrian army was going to attack Israel first and then Judah. God already knew what Judah was going to do. They were going to try to make their enemy, their friend. They thought they would have greater success if they joined forces with Egypt, but it was already prophesied that Egypt would fall to Assyria, which meant that when Egypt fall, Judah would fall also. God didn’t have to send a prophet to His people, but because He loved them, He warned them.
Judah was aware that they needed help, but they were asking for advice from everyone except God. They never asked God if it was okay to go to Egypt. They just made a decision without Him. They thought Pharaoh was the answer, but Pharaoh was really the problem. Egypt couldn’t protect them and in the end, they would only be disappointed and embarrassed because the Egyptians are only men, not God (Isaiah 31:3).
The reason why some of us don’t ask God for advice before we make certain decisions is because we are afraid He is going to say no. We are afraid that God is going to tell us something that we don’t want to hear.
Let’s say for example, you’re dating someone. Because this is the person YOU want to marry, you refuse to ask God for advice because you don’t want Him to tell you that this person is not the wife or husband He picked for you. You’ve already made plans and you don’t want God’s plan to change your plan.
Maybe you’re tired of being single and you think you’re ready for marriage now, but God sees what is going to happen in the near future if you make a decision without consulting Him first. What you think is going to be an answer just may become a problem. Remember, the person you are about to join yourself to is just a man or a woman. They are not God. They are not a Healer and they are not a Savior.
If you’re not sure about anything else, know that God loves you. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t warn you before you go in the wrong direction or convict you when you do wrong. He does care for you and He doesn’t want you to make a decision that will only bring you disappointment and shame.
Jesus is called our Counselor and God has placed counselors around us. I know Proverbs 11:14 speaks about the condition of a nation without wise leadership, but even in your personal life, where there is no counsel, you will fall.
Before you make a permanent decision, seek godly counsel, ask for advice and then follow the advice.
Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
The Lord told Elijah to hide by the brook, but I don’t want you to look at this from the point of Elijah hiding from Ahab. The purpose of him being hidden had nothing to do with the past, but it had to do with the future. God was preparing him for what was about to happen.
Not only did Elijah have water to drink, but God commanded the ravens to feed him every morning and evening. He knew exactly when the ravens were coming. Inside of Elijah was a gift, but in order for God to get out of him what He placed in him, he had to create a situation to stir up the gift that was in him. He had to make him uncomfortable.
One day, the brook dried up because there was no rain. Now, he had a thirst that he didn’t have before – and I’m not talking about a physical thirst. Had not the brook dried up, Elijah would have remained where he was, but someone needed his gift. What God had given him, wasn’t for him. It was for others. It was to serve others.
Not only did God tell him to move, but He told him where to move to. Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you. This woman had a need and God wanted to use Elijah to meet that need, but he never told Elijah about her need. He just told him that he was going to take care of him through this woman.
If you take care of what concerns God, He will take care of what concerns you.
Some people are still looking at the dried brook, crying over what they lost. The only thing lost that we should be concerned about is lost souls, not the things that we have lost because God can restore those things.
This widow didn’t want to die and she didn’t want her son to die, but she was preparing to die because she didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. It didn’t look like things were going to get better and now she had a man – a perfect stranger – asking her, a widow and a single mother, to give him her last and the only thing that she had left.
Through instructions, Elijah showed her how to get out of her situation. All she had to do was obey the instructions. All she had to do was give the very thing that she was afraid of losing.
We were created to do more than what we are doing. There is plenty of work to do. The harvest is plenteous (Matthew 9:37). But one person cannot do it alone. Every one of us has received a gift. Our job is to discover what that gift is and then put it to work. When you don’t do what you are supposed to do, someone else suffers. Jonah is a great example. God sent him to Nineveh, but he went where he wanted to go. When a storm came, Jonah was sleeping, but the people on the ship were suffering with fear and a near death experience.
Had Elijah not gone to where God sent him, the widow and her son would have died. It is important that we stop waiting for someone else to do what God told us to do. And stop comparing ourselves with others. Stop thinking that someone is better or can do it better than you. God gave gifts to the body of Christ to complete, not to compete with each another. Your gift is needed. Someone needs what you have.
You may not be the answer to everyone’s problem, but you are the answer to someone’s problem.
Use your gift.
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants [stewards, managers] of God’s various gifts of grace (2 Peter 4:10, EXB).
On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church. Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team. Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few.
I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character. First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most. What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her. She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful.
One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned. She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it. Who wants to do it? She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess. Yes, the new girl!
Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.
But that’s the wrong attitude. You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things. Maybe your attitude was like mine. You don’t think you should do certain things. You think you’re better than that. That’s not your job. That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else. If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?
To serve means to obey. It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed. Sometimes you will have to go out of your way. Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others. We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem. Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem. People have enough of their own problems. They are looking for an answer.
One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something. They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it.
Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us. Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23). Serve Him with gladness. Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money). Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you. Give Him your best!
I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined. I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7). I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). I waited for someone to tell me what to do.
But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?
I can change.