Monday, December 28, 2015

Leaning on God’s Strength

Brief Book Update: Dear Brethren, incase you missed it, we want to share the good news that both the paperback and Kindle format of our first book “Preparing for the Kingdom of God: True Divine Encounters and Teachings from the Lord Jesus Christ – Book 1” are now published and available on Amazon. We give all glory to God for His great help in writing, editing, and publishing it!

As we approach the New Year, many of us expect new things to happen, and some of us are looking forward to the Lord’s coming. While we patiently await that most BLESSED DAY, let us continue in obedience and faithful service to the Lord. We as a ministry would like to express our greatest love to all our brethren who faithfully supports us in prayer and in everything else that helps to keep this work stay afloat. In humble gratitude, if you did not return your love for us by praying, supporting and reading the work we publish here, we would have no joy in our work. The Lord gives us great comfort and joy, and He has blessed us with you and your fellowship, even if it is through this platform. Once again, we pray that you all have A BLESSED NEW YEAR in Christ Jesus, and we pray that this message blesses you more and more in faithful service to our Lord.

The Word of God exhorts us to trust in God and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). There is also another very powerful and familiar portion of Scripture, which is often quoted on the same topic:
“This is what the Lord says: The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord is cursed. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8 HCSB).
Encouragement to Depend on God

As Christians and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be depending on God. We will be sharing some real experiences from the Lord on this subject for your encouragement. It is worth mentioning that the Lord Jesus Christ is aware of our every suffering and the challenges we face (Hebrews 4:15). Evidently, some of our sufferings stem from panic and fear, forcing us to become dependent on man instead of depending on the Lord (Genesis 3:10). If we will literally denounce our dependence on the arm of flesh and choose to trust in the Lord, the Lord in His power, love and might will move the heart of whomever else He pleases to use or supernaturally meet our need. He is true to His promises to "… never leave you or forsake (abandon) you" (Hebrews 13:5). Furthermore, if we have a solid faith in God and are not being shaken by fear and panic, we are guaranteed deliverance, provisions, and protection (Psalm 125:1). The Bible also assures us: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children (descendants) begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Furthermore, as we know, our Christian journey is based on faith and the ‘evidence’ or proof of our faith is God’s response in the natural to our prayer requests (Mark 11:24; 2 Corinthians 5:7).

Godly Counsel in Needy Times

With the Scriptures being our guide to truth and encouragement, below we examine some Scriptural references about real people who literally trusted in God for protection and provision.
  • When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon gave an urgent order to execute the wise men of Babylon, Daniel did not panic in fear; instead, he and his companions trusted God and sought Him to provide a way out of the situation (Daniel 2:14-19).
  • Similarly, when Sennacherib King of Assyria threatened King Hezekiah, he did not go and make a treaty with some foreign army like King Asa did (2 Chronicles 16:7-9). Instead, he went to the Lord, the Shield of Abraham, in prayer and the Lord was faithful and help him (2 Kings 19:1-7).
  • When the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab, we read in the Bible that, "They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him" (1 Chronicles 5:18-21).
  • King David, when he was fleeing from Saul, did not take matters into his own hand to fight Saul; he sought Godly counsel in prayer and followed God’s plan and fled (1 Samuel 23:12; Proverbs 15:22).
  • Likewise, when our Lord Jesus was arrested by the Roman soldiers, He did not depend on the swords of His disciples for protection but trusted in the LORD God Almighty (Matthew 26:50-53).
Dependence on Men and Ourselves Yields Cursing

We often hear these popular statements: "Believe in yourself!" or “Trust in yourself!” While these statements may sound quite encouraging and uplifting, as Christians we know in whose strength our faith must truly rest (1 Corinthians 2:5). God has not called us to believe in our own abilities, (2 Corinthians 10:17), but to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, for in Him we have given up our rights and surrender to Him in full (John 6:29). Thus, we can do all things through Christ (not through ourselves) who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). If it is by our own strength, then we glory in the flesh (Judges 7:2).

As it is, there were some people in the Bible who trusted in themselves and even followed ungodly ideas of men and in return, they received curses rather than blessings:
  • When King Rehoboam chose to take the bad advice of his young friends, Israel rebelled against Him (2 Chronicles 10:10-19).
  • When Nabal chose to return evil for good by not acting in kindness to King David, the Lord struck Him down and he died (1 Samuel 25:5-38).
  • When King Ahab chose to listen to his wife Jezebel’s wicked advice to kill Naboth and steal his vineyard, the Lord promised punishment and disaster for Ahab's family (1 Kings 21: 17-24; 22:37-38).
  • Likewise, when King David relied on his own power and authority to get rid of Uriah the Hittite and took his wife Bathsheba, the Lord promised to raise evil against him from his own household (2 Samuel 12:7-12).
Therefore, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8).

We should not be Giving Orders to God

After my conversion in 1990 and being born again, like most new Christians, I was quick to blame the Lord when the reality of test appeared, crying, “this is not working!” and “God is not answering my prayers!” I panicked in fear as Peter did (Matthew 14:30). However, as I matured in my faith, I learned that I should not demand of God to act as if I am ordering a servant. It is true that most Christians have this perception that we can simply order the Lord around when we face steep challenges. One of the most popular but false teachings advocated by prosperity teachers is that Christians have a right or entitlement to God’s blessings and should, therefore, “name it and claim it”, demanding of the Lord to give us whatever material wealth or health we desire. In humility and truth, we are to be patient and steadfast in the midst of our situation, and the Lord will grant deliverance as He wills (Daniel 3:18). Over the years, I have since learned to employ faith, patience and humility to win God’s favor, because the Lord is not moved by our ‘quick and urgent’ and demanding attitudes (Isaiah 40:31). God responds to a humble request in faith (James 4:6). In one of our previous articles (please refer to Patience: An Essential Fruit to Inherit God's Promises) we mentioned that the fruit of patience slows us down and it helps us focus on God's salvation and deliverance. From my own experiences, consistent prayer might appear arduous, tedious and wearisome, but it brings forth trust, endurance and a patient faith (Luke 18:1-8). I can tell you, it pleases the Lord when we show our faith and dependence on Him. In a message to me recently, I sensed the Lord’s joy when He appraised my faith and in His good pleasure, He granted my request. Hallelujah!

In 1991, when I was retrenched from my first formal job, I had my first taste of frustration as a Christian. I had no income to pay my monthly rental, and after experiencing a few months of frustrations and disappointments of not finding a job, a brother whom I truly regard as a faithful mentor in Christ advised me to go on a fast for a few days and stop my dependence on people. I willingly followed the brother’s counsel and I went on my first ever fasting experience as a Christian, which was a three-day fast. On the last day of my fast, the Lord spoke to me through the Bible and said that He had opened a door of employment for me (Revelation 3:7-8). As confirmation, and what made this verse so shockingly true, was that those words of ‘an open door’ were similar to the wording in my page of prayer request, and back then I was not aware that such a verse of open door existed in the Bible. A few days after my fasting, I had a dream from the Lord in which I saw a man coming to me with a job offer. About a week after this dream, a man who lived in the same block of flats as I did, came and told me that the company he works for was looking for people. I was suitably qualified and when I went to the interview I was offered the job. In His faithfulness, the Lord honored my faith and granted my request.

In a similar experience, a brother in the Lord recently told me that he had failed his motor car driver’s test twice because he was depending on the ‘mercy’ of the officer to overlook his mistakes and give him a pass to obtain his driver’s license. However, after realizing that he had made man his dependence, he repented and went on a one-day fast and on his third attempt the Lord fulfilled a promise He had made to him a few months earlier in a dream that He would receive his driver’s license.

In another test, in January of 2010, I was unable to provide for my family and pay our mortgage. I had relied on many people to help me find a job, and to give us whatever money or groceries they had. In my desperation, I even approached my pastor, who had many contacts, for possible jobs but her promises did not yield anything. To add insult to injury, someone even told me: “You are praying so much, but God don’t seem to answer your prayers for a job!” I was hurt by those words, and I regard them as mocking to the Lord. My family’s suffering and frustrations drove sharp arrows of conflict at home, dividing the family. In another desperate act, I humbly went to God who had helped me previously; I fasted for seven days, giving myself literally to God (you may read my full testimony in our Preparing for The Kingdom Book 1, under the chapter on “Prayer is the Key to Solving All Problems – Part I”). After seeing my position of humility and helplessness, the faithful God took mercy on me, answered my prayers, and provided the financial means that we needed.

This is what the Bible says to encourage us:
  • I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • Call on Me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Psalm 50:15)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, put your trust and faith in God’s hands, and He will not overlook your situation as many think He does. God knows your anxious thoughts and CARES FOR YOU (Psalm 139:2; 23; 1 Peter 5:7). The Word also says: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).

As we conclude this message, we must consider our attitude when asking help from the Lord. From our experience, we have learned that we must be submissive to God and not have a demanding attitude. We should also not base our faith on some formulated prayers or dogma, or look to a certain preacher for answers. Our hope and trust must be in the Lord alone to help through any trying situation we ma face.

A few years ago, I learned from someone about a Christian woman who, while lying on her sick bed, earnestly desired her pastor to pray for her healing. Due to his busy schedule, the pastor could not make it to her bedside to pray for her. This led her to think that her pastor didn’t care about her. In her desperation for her pastor’s prayers, this precious sister did not value the worth and power of her own prayers and that of other believers. If we would only turn with desperation to the Lord, He who sees everything is READY to take over our situation. As it is, after a few weeks the young woman died without receiving healing, because her dependence and faith rested on her pastor’s prayers and not on God’s ability and promises to heal her. This is the unfortunate situation of many Christians: their dependence, hope and confidence are in man and they like piggybacking on others. This should not be the case, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15 NKJV)

We encourage you to read further on how prayer releases God’s blessings and deliverance by studying your Bibles. You may also reference our articles on Prayer: The Key to All Problems - Parts I and Part II. To accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Have a blessed new year trusting in God alone, and may your year be filled with Jesus’ love!

Brother Glenn van Rooyen and Preparing for the Kingdom Ministry Team.