Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why Does It Seem Like Such a Process for God to Answer My Prayers?

...because, most of the time, it is!

"And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies." 
Exodus 12:51

We pray to the Lord.
We know He hears us.
We believe He is able.
We trust He will answer.


Yet, so often, as we're praying, we forget to remember that God's answers are often accomplished through a series of events--a process.

On that glorious day, when the children of Israel were finally emancipated from 400 years of slavery, they triumphantly marched out of Egypt, experiencing the long-awaited, miraculous deliverance of God!

It's interesting to recall, however, that there were many necessary components in the process through which God wrought their deliverance.

The expulsion of Moses from the palace.
The keeping of Jethro's sheep in the backside of the desert.
The burning bush and God's call upon a man "slow of speech."
The increase in Egyptian brutality upon the Israelites.
And of course, the ten plagues.

Altogether, there was undoubtedly much fear and much doubt, as the children of Israel "sighed by reason of their bondage."

In Exodus 12:51 the Bible says that God "did" bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt!

He did hear them.
He did deliver them.
He did do what He had promised.
He did prove Himself faithful.

He did!  He did!  He did!

But do you realize that it wasn't until ten chapters later that God did what He did?!  You see, the deliverance of Exodus chapter twelve was the answer to the prayers offered up all the way back in Exodus chapter two!

"And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." (Exodus 2:23-25).

There was a long duration of time between Israel's cry for deliverance and God's apparent answer to their cry.  But in that "meantime" there was a lot happening!

God was at work.  God was moving.  God was getting things ready.

Is there something for which you are praying?  Something for which you have been crying out to God?  Do you feel like He's not listening?  Are you tempted to think your prayers are being ignored, or worse yet, that your problems are too big for Him?

Be encouraged...you're probably living in "the meantime" and the process leading up to deliverance has begun!

We don't know all that He's going to do, or when He's going to do it.  But we do know this:

He hears us.
He loves us.
He knows what we need.
His timing is perfect.

And in the "meantime" there is a series of events--a process--that must take place as God works all things together for our good!

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mocking the Poor

"Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished."
Proverbs 17:5

It is not for us to judge WHY the poor man is poor. All God tells us here is that we must not:

1. Mock him.
2. Be glad at his calamities.

When we see someone in poverty or who is homeless, we should not make fun or have a disdainful spirit towards him. We must remember that sin and the consequences of sin always lead a man to more misery, shame, and regret than those who enjoy the blessings of righteousness.

The poor man suffers, whether it seems that way to us or not.  Need proof?  Just ask yourself, "Would I like to trade places?"  Though it's true that many poor men have gotten themselves into a state of poverty because of their own poor (no pun intended) choices, being in a state of poverty is still unfortunate, to say the least.

The poverty-stricken man might be where he is because of alcohol, drugs, gang activity, laziness, anger and violence, or wrong friends. Of course, it would be good to remember that not ALL those in poverty are there because of their own foolish decisions; sometimes there are legitimate hardships that befall upstanding people.  Let us keep in mind also that, oftentimes, people merely follow the pattern that was set before them by their parents. In such a case, though people are indeed responsible for their actions, it would help us to be compassionate if we recognized that these people have only lived the way they were brought up; which, by the way, is probably true, to some degree, of many who are reading this now.

Again, it is difficult and unfortunate to be in poverty and calamity--even if the poverty and calamity is self-inflicted. God is the Judge--not us. People in affliction need love, mercy, and compassion just like everyone else. And the truth is, that most people in this world despise and mock the poor.  May we as Christians do otherwise.

Pharisees are judgmental. Let us not follow their pattern.

Jesus was merciful. Let's follow His!

Aren't you glad that God is merciful to you, even in times when you are merely reaping the consequences you rightfully deserve?

Those who depend on food stamps, or beg at at street corner, or sleep on a park bench... are they in poverty because of their own foolish, sinful, selfish choices?  Perhaps. But the next time you feel justified in mocking the poor, or in rejoicing over their calamity, think about these words:

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7).

May we love those whom God loves and remember:

"They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick...I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
(Matthew 9:13)