Shortcutting the Will of God

We live in a fast-paced culture and are accustomed to quick results. Waiting appears to be an activity of past generations.

It’s no surprise, then, that we have a hard time if God doesn’t answer a prayer right away. But when we refuse to be patient, our only option is to step out of His plan. Today’s passage tells how Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah) took matters into their own hands because they did not like the Lord’s timetable.

Ten years had passed since God promised them a son, and Sarai was aging. So she and Abram decided to let her servant Hagar bear a child for them. Sarah eventually did give birth in her old age, but that lack of patience led to great strife—for their family and for us today. Much of the tension in the Middle East can be traced to two people groups: the descendants of Hagar and of Sarah.

Why would a godly couple choose a path of self-sufficiency? First, their intense desire for a child clouded their thinking. Sarah desperately wanted a son—which was a basis of women’s worth in that culture. Next, they succumbed to wrong thinking. After years of childlessness and longing, they began to think that perhaps the Lord needed human help. Finally, they believed this faulty reasoning, and both gave in to impatience.

These traps still pose a danger today. We’re not immune to strong desire, human reasoning, or the influence of others. Impatient by nature, we could easily justify taking action in our own strength. The best advice is to listen, obey, and wait. God’s timing is perfect, and we don’t want to miss His best.

Spiritual Shortsightedness

What are you pursuing in life? The answer is not found in what you think your goal is but in what you are actually doing. For instance, you may claim that the Lord Jesus has first place in your life, but are you actually pursuing Him above all else, or have you gotten sidetracked with your own desires?

This was the case with the Jews who returned to the land of Israel after being in Babylonian captivity. They had the goal of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple, but they became distracted with construction of their own homes and kept postponing work on the Lord’s house. As a result, God was challenging their efforts.

The Lord described it this way: “’You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away” (Hag. 1:9). The people mistakenly thought that they could put their own financial interests ahead of God’s and still prosper. Today they would probably say, “The faster I go, the behinder I get.”

The same thing was happening in Malachi’s day. When the people failed to bring their tithes and offerings, God called it robbery. He admonished them to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” so he could open the windows of heaven and pour forth abundant blessing (Mal. 3:10).

This principle reaches down to us today, and it encompasses more than financial matters. Peter has given us a list of qualities God wants us to diligently seek (2 Peter 1:5-11). Neglecting them for other pursuits is shortsighted, but those who practice them will avoid stumbling.

The Power of God’s Armor

Did you know that when you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you became not only a believer but also a warrior? That’s why, at the end of his life, Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The apostle knew that there are enemies opposing us all throughout our time on earth—and these include not just Satan, his emissaries, and the world system but even our own sinful flesh. However, Jesus has not left us defenseless. He has provided the armor of God for our protection.

The Word of God promises that we who believe in Jesus Christ will overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5). Yet most of us would have to admit we sometimes feel more defeated than victorious in certain areas of our life. However, the tools God has provided for us make it possible to withstand Satan’s temptations and break down any strongholds he has established in our minds.

When we are dressed in the Lord’s armor, we’re wrapped in truth, righteousness, peace, and salvation and are protected by the shield of faith. And Paul says that with this shield, we “will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). Those arrows are the devil’s lies, and they can be snuffed out with truth from God’s Word.

Our weapons are “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” and prayer (Eph. 6:17-18). Although our enemy knows our weaknesses and is always ready to attack, we have the power of God on our side.

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

The Battle of the Mind

Do you understand how Satan works to bring down believers? Although we may think of his attacks as external, the real battleground is in the realm of ideas. If he can get a church to believe erroneous doctrines, unbiblical philosophies, and false assumptions about God, he can lead it away from the truth and into error.

And the Enemy uses this same tactic on individual Christians as well. The battlefield is our mind, not our circumstances. As the Father of Lies, he knows that deception is an effective tactic. His goal is to influence our thoughts because how we think determines our attitudes, emotions, desires, and actions. Therefore, he seeks to twist our thoughts in order to gain a foothold and wreak havoc in all areas.

Any thought that is contrary to God’s Word needs to be taken “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). And Jesus showed us how: Every time Satan threw a temptation at Him, He answered it with an appropriate Scripture (Matt. 4:1-11). However, we can’t simply wave our Bible in the air, hoping to scare the devil away. To effectively defeat his lies, we need a good working knowledge of God’s Word so that we can fight deception with truth, whatever the situation might be.

For instance, if you struggle with fear and anxiety, cling to verses that affirm God’s trustworthiness and care. If envy is the problem, the answer is Christ’s sufficiency for your life. As you fill your mind with God’s Word, Satan’s lies will become easier to identify, and your attitudes, emotions, desires, and behaviors will align with truth.

Comprehending God’s Truth

The Lord speaks to us in such a way that we may fully grasp His truth. He doesn’t speak in riddles but instead communicates so that we can comprehend.

Now, we may not always understand everything He says to us. All of us struggle to interpret His message at times. However, we must realize that this difficulty is not because the message is foggy. Rather, it is because something in our own life is getting in the way of His truth.

Unforgiveness may prevent us from hearing the Lord correctly. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and prayerlessness can also create spiritual “static” that clogs our ears. At times, though, the biggest distraction is our own minds—that is, our human tendency to figure things out for ourselves. That attitude can create a wall between our ears and the Father’s voice, and it is a wall we must tear down.

Remember, the reason we can hear the Lord is because He put His own Holy Spirit in the heart of every person who trusts in Christ. You see, nonbelievers aren’t able to understand the things of God because they have only their human mind to use when interpreting. As Christians, however, we have the Spirit of God, who works to make the Lord’s communication clear to us.

Do you struggle to comprehend God’s message? If you approach every challenge with determination to understand and master all aspects of the situation, the answer may be yes. Slow down. Surrender your anxious thoughts to Him, letting His wisdom fill your spirit—and your mind.

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