September 7, 2017
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“There is none like unto God…who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellence on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before Thee.”
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
1. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”
2. “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, ‘Because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
“When Your Prayers Go Unanswered”
“Hope is faith in the future tense.”
When I pray and haven’t gotten the answer I want, does it make me ever think that my Father isn’t listening or that in some way He doesn’t care for me?
Have I ever worried that I made such a big mistake or have a failure in my life that is so large it makes it impossible for God to hear me when I pray?
Is there something that has happened in my life that makes me feel as though God’s decisions may be arbitrary?
What is it that I am hoping for in my life right now?
“The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope.”
“The future belongs to those who belong to God. This is hope.”
W. T. Purkiser
Over the past few days, many of you have written to me, expressing the perplexity caused in your life by unanswered prayers. Not only do your notes touch my heart, but I’m with you in every way because I’ve toiled long, arduous hours in the field I call “unanswered requests.” Believe me when I say that it is tough working in hard, rocky soil that never seems to yield anything. No harvest after all our hard work as we persevere in prayer – day after day and night after night. I’ve asked myself, “Am I missing something? Are my prayer requests simply wrong? What’s my problem anyway?”
If you have ever felt you’ve hit a patch of dry earth and are stuck out in the barren land of unanswered prayers, then come along with me. Let’s study together as we see what is going on when our prayers aren’t answered the way we want. And dare I say it, we may find that our unanswered prayers may well end up being a blessing in disguise.
I don’t know if you are old enough to recall a time when ominous messages couldn’t be sent by internet or even by a speedy mail system. So news often took many days to arrive – long after an event took place. For example, when someone died, it took a long time for an envelope to arrive with black tape around the edge. Immediately, the receiver knew what was inside, even before opening the message.
As I was preparing today’s study, I happened upon these words: “God’s choicest love letters are sent in black-edged envelopes. The envelope frightens us, but if we know how to break the seal, we will find riches for our souls.” To be honest, when I read this last phrase, “we will find riches for our souls,” I almost chocked! “How could that be” I wondered aloud!
Well, if you feel that you’ve received one too many black-edged envelopes in your life, let’s head out to the field of unanswered prayers…of unfulfilled dreams…and of unmet expectations and see how the seal is broken by a loving Father who has something healing for our souls.
It may be that you have asked repeatedly for heaven’s intervention in the life of a loved one who hasn’t received the joy of a relationship with Jesus. Or possibly there is someone close to your heart who is battling an addiction to drugs or gambling or pornography or some other destructive habit. For many of you, the need for which you are faithfully praying is for a job – an honest day’s work – which will allow you to keep a roof over your kid’s heads and put food on the table every day. And then there’s the hundreds of prayer requests we receive for healing from a deadly illness or insufferable pain that has bound itself to you night and day. Who wouldn’t want these prayers answered? Who doesn’t need our Father to step in immediately and “break the seal” for us in our hour of need? I know I do and I know many of you do, too.
As I have shared before, the cry of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26: 39, K.J.V.), is what I call the greatest unanswered request in the history of the universe. However, I needed to recognize, as I studied this passage, that God didn’t tell His Son, “I’m sorry but You can’t come home. You have to stay there on earth where You aren’t loved. The answer to your prayer is “No!” Quite the contrary happened.
Let me ask you, "Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation and so you began to have a conversation with yourself -- as a way to help you look at the situation with more clarity?" Well, I've been caught by my husband, who will say to me, "Dorothy, who are you talking to?" Oops! Caught! However, frequently in my own personal case, this talking assists me. Sometimes, I've even answered the question. I believe this is what Jesus was doing when all alone in the Garden of Gethsemane He said, "Is there any other way?" This was really a question which the Bible tells us was answered before the foundation of the world. Jesus knew the answer or He would never have come to earth to rescue us in the first place. It was as if He was reviewing His Father's love and the great plan of salvation and He said, "Is there any other way? No, this is the way I have chosen with my Father to express to this rebellious planet what our universe of LOVE is all about." How thankful we can be that God's plan was based on the unconditional love for each one of us.
Jesus knew full-well what He would do long before He spoke that fateful prayer which resulted, praise God, in your and my eternal salvation. If we recognize Jesus’ cry as the prayer that had a “No” attached to it as the greatest denial ever of any request, then I’d like to turn to what I consider to be the second greatest “No” in response to an earthly request.
Our studies for the next few days will focus on the life of Moses who in Deuteronomy 34: 10 was titled with this honor: “There arose not a prophet in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” The fact that Moses “knew” God and “spoke” to God “face-to-face” tells me a lot about the relationship Moses had with his Father in heaven. This was no casual acquaintance. This wasn’t some surface relationship. The Bible says God and Moses spoke “as friends”.
Let’s not forget that when the rebellious children of Israel cajoled Aaron into building them a golden calf to replace the God of heaven whom they couldn’t see and who they felt was taking too much time on Mt. Sinai with Moses, that after this act of total rejection of God, it was the presence of God, in a cloud, that came down upon His friend, Moses’ tent, in a show of Divine love for such defiant children. Time and again, these disobedient people of Israel, with rebel hearts, were insolent toward God and were rude and ungracious to Moses, until the day came, when in a fit of ill-temper, after being harangued beyond human endurance and after another demand for water, Moses, instead of striking a rock once with his staff as instructed by God, hit the rock with great force, twice. Numbers 20: 10, 11 (K.J.V.) really paints a vividly colored picture of the scene: “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and He said unto them, ‘Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts, also.”
God provided – as He always does! But in this particular instance, Moses went against his Father’s instructions and we read in Numbers 20: 12 that God, Moses’ close, dear friend, informed His the care-worn servant that he would not be leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land – in other words, Moses’ life-long dream was to be left unfulfilled. And when Moses went back to God and told his friend how sorry he was for his mistake, God’s words to Moses were, “Don’t bring this up again – the decision is final.” Talk about an unanswered prayer. This is a huge one in my book! Especially after all Moses had put up with and all he had done for God!
If you want to read a passage in the Bible about unanswered prayer that will bring tears to your eyes, go to Deuteronomy, Chapter 34 and read about Moses, God’s friend, and see how at the end of his life, at the age of 120 years, he walked alone, up from the plains of Moab “unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho…Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.” But the story doesn’t stop with Moses dying, for he wasn’t all alone at the very end! Praise God! And rather than the life of Moses ending with what might look like an unanswered prayer due to the impatience of an over-wrought servant of God, this is a story of immense hope, eternal grace, and God’s fulfillment of our dreams in ways we’d never imagine.
I invite all of you who have endured, to the limits of your strength, throughout your life, only to reach what you believe to be your unfulfilled dreams as everything around you falls apart, please come back tomorrow and take another look with me at Moses’ unanswered prayer, and this time we aren’t going to look at the view from a desert camp, surrounded by a bunch of griping, ungrateful people who rarely recognized the blessing that was theirs in the untiring love and tender solace of a “servant” leader like Moses. This time we are going to take a look at the heavenly view God gave Moses from the top of Pisgah. And we are going to see why a seemingly unanswered prayer, became one of the most spectacular blessings ever afforded to a human being who walked this earth.
“(She) who rises from (her) knees a better (woman), (her) prayer has been granted.”
“I asked for strength that I might achieve.
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for.
All that I hoped for.
My prayer was answered.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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