The Bible contains much encouragement and many promises. New Christians need to be guided in understanding verses like 'Ask and it will be given to you' (Matt.7:7). It is easy to get the idea that the Bible is like a catalogue. You study the Bible to find out all the wonderful things God has in store for you, put in your order through prayer, and it is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring them to you. The only thing is that they don't last, so you have to request them again at frequent intervals.
In reality, the things God has in store for us are not commodities, but character. The things asked for are to be an active expression of the presence of God in your life. He wants to bring out his qualities in your life.
2 Cor.4:11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
Eph.2:10 For we are God's workmanship …
The idea that God will give us anything we want falls down when bad things happen and trials come. We would not wish for them so we can start to wonder if we are being punished for being unfaithful in some way. This is dangerous thinking. Even the bad things in our lives can be used by God for our benefit.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be pure and complete, not lacking anything.
James goes on to say, 'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.' (James 1:5). Understanding why we do not get all we ask for and the place of suffering in our lives is important to prevent discouragement. Ask God to help you understand.
Another mistake is to try and do things for God, instead of letting him do things through you.
1 Thess.5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
Phil.2:12-13 … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Exodus 14:13-14 … Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Heb.12:1-2 … let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …
Phil.1:6 … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
If you have given your life to Jesus, be sure he will keep it safe. But he wants to perfect it for you to present it before God at the end.
2 Cor.3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
[Based on Christ For Real by Charles W Price]
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