Summary: Conversations we have with God. A series focusing on prayer
Conversations With God
When God Says No!
April 24, 2016
We’re in a series called Conversations with God. Today is part 3, and we're going to talk about something that's a little bit more difficult than our discussion 2 weeks ago . . . the joy of Lazarus coming back to life. In the story about Lazarus, our theme was when God seemed to show up late. The good news was that God did what Mary and Martha hoped He would do. Lazarus got to live. God just seemed late. All turned out fine! But waiting is no fun!
Today's message is not as much fun. We're going to look at a time when God said NO, when He doesn’t give us what we want and seems uncooperative. Times when we believe God could do something, and then He doesn’t. I believe this will help us better understand the God and learn to trust Him even when God says NO.
Have you ever lost something? Something like your car keys . . . they’re gone. You know they’re somewhere because your car is there, but you can’t find the keys. Maybe you’re at a store and after an intense search -- nothing! No keys.
Finally, you get this crazy idea in your head. I’m going to pray about it. God, help me find my keys. I’m freaking out and I need to find my keys. Thanks God! Then it hits you, you put them down when you were checking out the tomatoes. You go over there and WA! LA! There they are.
You may say, "Well, it was just a coincidence." Maybe or . . . Amazing, God, wow God. I can't believe He did that. That's awesome.
Now fast forward to prayers for a loved one who has cancer or a terminal illness. We pray passionate prayers . . . we thank God for what He’s going to do, but nothing gets better.
Here's my point - - - God, why in the world would you do something seemingly so insignificant in answering a prayer for keys, and why do I hear a NO when I’m praying for healing. God, that doesn't make sense to me.
We all have some version of that story in our lives. God gave you the parking spot at the mall, but won't take away your migraines. Or, you're praying for your marriage, or for some ongoing pain, or challenge, or a job. Whatever it is, we believe - - God, you can do this!
I want to look at one specific story in the life of the Apostle Paul - - - and give some thoughts about prayer which may help. The first one is this, prayer isn't about getting our way, it's about surrendering our will. It's not about getting God to do what we want, it's often surrendering our will to what God wants.
Remember this is exactly how Jesus prayed in the garden, before going to the cross when He said, "Father, if there is any way, would you remove this cup of suffering from me? Nevertheless, God, not my will, but your will be done."
When Jesus taught us to pray, He said ~ "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." We ask God again and again, but ultimately, we’re called to surrender our will to God’s. Paul would discover this. And if there’s anyone who deserved a YES to prayer, it was Paul.
Paul grew up Jewish and was a scholar. He was being groomed to be a high priest. You could say - - he was very Jewish! And Paul hated Christians. He hated them so much, he had them killed. Then Paul had a miraculous conversion where his whole life was changed and he went from hating Christians to being one of the most effective Christians in the history of the world. This guy was amazing, passionate, on fire for Jesus in everything he did.
He wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. He went on missionary trips to tell others about Jesus. He healed people. He raised the dead. He had visions. He risked his life, was whipped and beaten 5 times - - each whipping lasting for 39 times. He was imprisoned numerous times. Stoned for his faith, ship wrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, beaten with rods and left for dead. He paid an incredible price. And endured more than you could imagine.
What was his reward? If I’m God, I’m saying to Paul ~ “You've done all of this. I'm going to make sure your retirement is better than your earlier years . . . because that’s how good a God I am.”
We’re going to read from 2 Corinthians. Paul was writing his 2nd letter to this church in Corinth. We’re nearing the end of the letter and Paul wrote ~