Saturday, January 25, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 36: Claiming a promise

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 36, January 25, 2014
Readings: Psalm 35, Genesis 32, 2 Chronicles 9, Acts 1

Last time you spoke to God, what did you say? Did you ask for anything? What were your expectations when you asked? Did you think He'd come through?

I often ask for things from God - but I don't often think about why He might say yes or no. Usually I'm only thinking about what I want. This happened a lot in college when I didn't study for a particular exam. I'd sit down, freak out, and pray that God would somehow give me the right answers, because I wanted to be rescued from my laziness. But I didn't really give a lot of consideration to why God would want to answer my prayer. I just hoped He would.

And I think this happens a lot in our world. Even if I don't think I'm treating God like some genie in a lamp who gives me wishes, if I'm honest with myself, that's what I do a lot. Because without giving consideration to the person we're requesting something from, we're really just demanding it. And while God doesn't have limitations on power, He does have a purpose. And if we don't stop and consider God's purpose when making requests, we're probably going to be disappointed in the answers.

The beauty of the flipside is that if we do stop and consider why, we might just start asking for the right things. And being satisfied with whatever the answer is. Let's consider the story of Jacob, as he's returning home to see his brother, Esau. Last time they were together, Esau swore to murder his brother. And this is no idle threat. Esau is a great hunter. He is certainly capable. Jacob is afraid. And he prays.

And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,' I am not worth of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'" (Genesis 32:9-12)

Jacob reminds himself and God of the promises made. Jacob is staring down death, and he may be literally shaking in his boots. But he doesn't just rub the lamp. He doesn't throw up a prayer without considering why God would save him and his family. He knows that God's purpose is for him to return to his home country. He knows that God has promised him a vast quantity of descendants. He strengthens his own resolve by reminding himself of God's promise, and he asks God in faith to deliver on that promise.

God never promised me success on all my exams. I certainly had lessons to learn when I didn't study for them and therefore didn't do so well. But what He did promise is His love. His Holy Spirit, with us always. He also promised to take care of our needs. (Notice: He did not promise to deliver our wants, like my want of a sports car.) He promised that His approval is all you need. And he promised us eternal life, with Him, if we abide in Him.

What can we consider going forward, in light of this truth? When we pray, what will we ask for? What will we say? How can we combat our fears with the truth of God? He is faithful and listening to our prayers, and He has promised us everything we need. 

So how does this promise change your prayers? 

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