When it comes to religion, I’ve learned to never confuse love for God with following man-made rules. It can get confusing, especially if you’re taught that following God and adhering to rules are one and the same. You want to respect a person’s title, position or rules but there are boundaries and precise lines that you must draw to avoid practicing any religion with the wrong mindset, and silence about wrongdoing should never be part of that mindset. Continue reading
Here’s a little lesson from the Book of Samuel. The worst thing we can do is act while in a state of frustration. Take time to cool off. Make sure you’re being led of God and not trying to move things along in your own strength. I recall the trial of two young converts who were being persecuted by their parents for being born again. They wanted to move out of their parents’ home and get an apartment together but needed a third person to handle the rent. Somehow they found another young girl who had recently come to the Lord. Although this girl had a job, she also had emotional problems and really put the girls through some difficult times. Part of their agreement was that she would take care of providing money to buy groceries. She never actually gave them money to shop, however; she always had to accompany them to the store. This sounded OK at first, but as soon as they took the groceries to the cashier, she always refused to pay, claiming she couldn’t find the money.
So my husband and I went along one day to see what was going on, and sure enough, when she got to the register, the cashier told her the cost and she did not release the money she had in her purse. So these poor girls were stuck with this person because they wanted to be on their own so badly and wanted to get out of the persecution but ended up in a worse situation.
Sometimes we think we need or want something and we beg God to give it to us. We’d better be sure, however, that our desires coincide with the will of God. In 1 Samuel 8, the children of Israel not only asked for a king, they demanded one out a knee-jerk reaction to a scandal in the temple. Samuel’s sons were taking advantage of the people, and the people decided to correct the problem themselves instead of letting God correct it.
After Samuel’s sons were exposed as hypocrites, they said, “We want what everyone else has—a king,” because they thought a change in regime would make things better. They let this scandal affect their trust in God—who, incidentally, had done no wrong. The prophet Samuel told them they would face many hardships with a king, but they would not listen. The point is that a king was Israel’s own solution to the problem; they did not pray to find out God’s solution. Israel also misidentified the problem; it was not Samuel, but rather the two sons, who were not worthy of their position. Plus, Israel was ruled God, not a man.
Samuel was distressed about Israel’s request. After all, how could he not take this personally? It was his sons that were causing the trouble. The people failed to realize, however, that even though Samuel’s sons were rotten, Samuel was still God’s man and God’s representative. They’d forgotten it is the Lord who not only grants position and power, but He also takes it away when needed. He has always been the One to set up kings and then take them down. This is why God let Samuel know “They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting me.” In essence, the people were telling God, “You cannot handle this. We’re the ones who have been hurt and we’ll decide how to fix this.” So the people stopped trusting God’s help and rejected God’s rule altogether. That is why He called their request “wickedness” in 1 Samuel 11:17. In the end, however, God gave Israel what they asked for in 1 Samuel 8:22, but Israel’s kings caused them a lot of sorrow and eventually split the nation.
We tend to demand that God give us what we want—right now! When one of our friends gets a new car, for example, we rush to get one ourselves. When someone we know gets married, we demand God give us a spouse, too. And when He doesn’t, we try to solve the issue ourselves. But God is a God of order and time; He works in His time and will not be rushed. Often what we want is not what we need.
Desires can become idols and replace the will of God if we let them. All desires are not evil, but if our methods for dealing with those desires or our frustration over not getting what we want, crosses the will of God, those same harmless desires can be deadly to our connection with the Lord.
-excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Survial Guide for going through Trials.