So you have a question and ask it. Are you going to be OK with the answer? What if the answer is no? What if the answer is not yet? What if the answer is yes? Does it matter what the answer is for you to be able to receive it? Does it matter who gives you the answer? Will the tone of the answer make a difference to how well you receive it? Are you asking to get an answer or just to challenge? Are you asking to learn or are you trying to stir something up? Are you asking to grow or just cause trouble? Consider your heart when you ask! Consider the intentions when you ask! Consider the possible answers and what impact that will have!
Day 30: Bible In One Year 2017 Devotional, Psalm 17:13-15, Matthew 20:20-34, Job 15, Job 16, Job 17, Job 18
So what if you are asking God in your prayer? Do you believe that God answers all prayers? I do! He knows what is best for us! He knows beyond our present circumstances! He knows the work that has to be done or get done! He knows the past, the present, and the future! God does answer and it is usually one of yes, no, not yet. Imagine if you had of received what you asked for rather than the better thing God had planned for you. Imagine times when you hear yes and just move on, do you ever wonder what if the answer had of been no or wait for it? Imagine times when you hear no and then either sulk or move on, do you ever wonder why not or do you wonder what God has in store that will be even better than what you were asking for? Imagine times when you hear not yet or wait for it, do you argue about it or do you realize that the timing is right and you don’t or shouldn’t jump the gun?
How many times no matter what the answer is that you try to do it your own way anyways? Have you learned anything through those experiences? I know I have! I remember a time many years ago now when God prompted me to start looking for a new job. I remember saying “but God I have a great team with great bosses, I’m so comfortable here” and didn’t start looking. Through that disobedience I learned a lot and the next time I got that memo of getting out of the boat during a morning reading, I ask God about it on my way to work and received a text that reinforced get out of the boat! Oh the stories of when I did listen and obey to the answer compared to the times when I didn’t. It makes a difference! God does know what He is talking about!
So as we look at today’s devotional (Day 30) that has the topic of “Does God Answer All Our Prayers?” The short answer is yes, God does answer all your prayers! The longer answer is that it may not be the answer you want, we don’t always get what we asked for, and sometimes the timing isn’t right and we eventually do get it. So does God answer all your prayers? Yes and the answer either gives you affirmation (a yes), gives you a denial (a no), or gives you a wait for it (a not yet). We know from God’s Word that He is a good father! Ask, Seek, Knock! So we need to understand that if He says no, He’s got a good reason. His reason probably aligns to “if the things we ask for ‘are either not good in themselves, or not good for us or for others, directly or indirectly, immediately or ultimately’“. One thing I learned is that you may not know why it was yes vs no vs wait, but I know that walking in obedience to His answers makes a big difference!
1. God says ‘yes’ … Psalm 17:13-15
13Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;with your sword rescue me from the wicked. 14By your hand save me from such people, Lord,from those of this world whose reward is in this life.May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;may their children gorge themselves on it,and may there be leftovers for their little ones. 15As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. –from Psalm 17
Let’s start today and everyday with God! Let’s not go out trying to do it all in our own strength, our own wisdom, or our own way! Let’s not be satisfied in trying to do it alone! Let’s wake up and be satisfied to go through this life with God by our side!
Let’s start each day not asking or thinking like a child “me, me, me” but rather, let’s consider what God would have this day be and mean and produce! Let’s be looking to start our day with God and walk it out with God!
2. God says ‘no’ to one request, ‘yes’ to another … Matthew 20:20-34
20Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked.She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”“We can,” they answered. 23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 29As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
–from Matthew 20
If the request is wrong, God says, “No.” If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.” If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.” But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!” –from Too busy not to pray by Bill Hybels
Consider your heart! Consider your intentions! Consider your question!
Today’s reading from Matthew shows 2 different questions being asked with different answers. First we see the question that gets a NO
20Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked.She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”“We can,” they answered. 23Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
–from Matthew 20
The second question came back with a YES:
29As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
–from Matthew 20
What was the heart of the matter? What was the intention behind the questions? How did Jesus respond to that knowing that He knows the heart of the question? Jesus had compassion on both of the groups of people who asked. In the case of the blind men, the compassion for their situation got Him to touch and heal them and they followed Him! In the case of the brothers, the compassion was because of the suffering He knew He was about to go through and didn’t want that to be put onto them. He also knew the mother was asking not out of humility but as we read in today’s devotion “for glory, power and promotion for her boys“. Today’s devotional goes a bit further to into speaking of the cup that Jesus was about to drink in this way…
Shockingly, Jesus speaks of drinking this cup himself. He is going to ‘give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28). The Greek word for ‘for’ (in ‘ransom for many’, v.28) is ‘anti’, which means ‘instead of’. This is the clearest example in the whole New Testament of Jesus explaining his death in terms of substitution.
The apostle James writes, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives’ (James 4:3). Behind the requests here lay different motives. Both requests were to do with lordship. The request of the blind men came from the recognition that Jesus is Lord, and a desire for something good (Matthew 20:30–33). On the other hand, Jesus points out that the mother’s request came from a desire to ‘lord it over’ others (v.25).
Jesus points out that true greatness does not come from lording it over others or from what the world regards as success (wealth, position, fame or having a ‘successful’ ministry). Rather, he says that true greatness comes from becoming ‘a servant’ – following the example of Jesus who came ‘to serve, not be served’ (vv.26–28). This is an example of where the disciples were wrong and God said ‘Grow’.
I think I have learnt more in my own life from the times when my prayers have not seemed to be answered than from the times when they have been answered with a ‘Yes’. Certainly the disciples must have learnt a huge amount from this ‘unanswered’ prayer.
No is still an answer to your question! Wait is still an answer to your question! Yes isn’t the only time there is an answer!
3. God says ‘wait’ … Job 15:1-18:21
Do you remember that we have Jesus sitting on the right hand of the Father interceding for you and for me? God is looking out for our best! God’s plan is to give us a hope and a future! Be prepared and be OK with the answer God gives you!
Don’t lose hope because of what others are saying! Don’t start to worry based on their words! Put your hope and trust in God! In this world you will have troubles but Jesus has overcome the world! So let’s consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because we know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let’s allow perseverance to finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Compare what they are saying against God’s Word! Let God’s Word be the scale on which we weigh out the truth, the power, and the relevance to the point of life we are now in! It doesn’t sway from side to side, the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a lamp unto our path!
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. –from 2 Timothy 3
When we see others who are suffering, let’s morn with those who morn! Let’s have compassion on them as Jesus had compassion on so many! Let’s not try to be judge but rather let’s be salt and light into this dark world! Let’s take hold of Job’s advice at being comforters by being people who ‘encourage’, ‘comfort’ and ‘strengthen’ them and ‘soothe their suffering’! Let’s intercede for them
20My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. –from Job 16
Even as we intercede it may get an answer of yes, no, or wait. If it is wait then don’t stop! Keep interceding for your friend! Keep being a friend – encouraging them, comforting them, strengthening them and soothing them.
Job knew his intercessor was up in heaven and so do we! Put our hope and our trust in Jesus! He is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and for me! Yes we may end up both getting a wait for it, just like Job did but eventually it come to fruition when Job’s life was restored! Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! Keep your focus on Jesus! Keep your hope and trust in Him! And be that friend God positioned you there to be! You have been put there for such a day and such a time as this!
Today’s devotional reinforces this point as follows:
Who is Job’s intercessor? Job says, ‘Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high’ (16:19). In the New Testament we see that the one ‘who represents mortals before God’ (16:21, MSG) is Jesus. He is your ‘advocate with the Father’ (1 John 2:1, RSV). He is interceding for you (Hebrews 7:24–25).
Jesus was Job’s advocate. He was interceding for him. Jesus was pleading with God ‘as one pleads for a friend’ (Job 16:21). We see here a similarity between Job’s experience and that of Peter. Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail’ (Luke 22:31–32).
As John Wimber used to say, ‘The good news is that Jesus is praying for us. The bad news is that we are going to need it!’
Today’s reading concludes with:
1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: 2“Would a wise person answer with empty notions or fill their belly with the hot east wind? 3Would they argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? 4But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. 5Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. 6Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. 7“Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? 8Do you listen in on God’s council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? 9What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have? 10The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father. 11Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? 12Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, 13so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth? 14“What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous? 15If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, 16how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt, who drink up evil like water! 17“Listen to me and I will explain to you; let me tell you what I have seen, 18what the wise have declared, hiding nothing received from their ancestors 19(to whom alone the land was given when no foreigners moved among them): 20All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him. 21Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. 22He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness; he is marked for the sword. 23He wanders about for food like a vulture; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. 24Distress and anguish fill him with terror; troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack, 25because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, 26defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield. 27“Though his face is covered with fat and his waist bulges with flesh, 28he will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble. 29He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land. 30He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots, and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away. 31Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return. 32Before his time he will wither, and his branches will not flourish.
33He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms. 34For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. 35They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.”
–from Job 15
1Then Job replied: 2“I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! 3Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? 4I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. 5But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief. 6“Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away. 7Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8You have shriveled me up—and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes. 10People open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. 11God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. 12All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; 13his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. 14Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior. 15“I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. 16My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; 17yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure. 18“Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! 19Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. 20My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; 21on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend. 22“Only a few years will pass before I take the path of no return.
–from Job 16
1My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. 2Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. 3“Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? 4You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. 5If anyone denounces their friends for reward, the eyes of their children will fail. 6“God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. 7My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. 8The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 9Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger. 10“But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. 11My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart 12turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near. 13If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, 14if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ 15where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me? 16Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?”
–from Job 17
1Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: 2“When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. 3Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in your sight? 4You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place? 5“The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning. 6The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out. 7The vigor of his step is weakened; his own schemes throw him down. 8His feet thrust him into a net; he wanders into its mesh. 9A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare holds him fast. 10A noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path. 11Terrors startle him on every side and dog his every step. 12Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. 13It eats away parts of his skin; death’s firstborn devours his limbs. 14He is torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors. 15Fire resides in his tent;
burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling. 16His roots dry up below and his branches wither above. 17The memory of him perishes from the earth; he has no name in the land. 18He is driven from light into the realm of darkness and is banished from the world. 19He has no offspring or descendants among his people, no survivor where once he lived. 20People of the west are appalled at his fate; those of the east are seized with horror. 21Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who does not know God.”
–from Job 18