Step Towards Transformation
God is a giver, not a taker! Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) It is the devil who is the thief. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to give us life more abundant. (John 10:10)
Romans 8:32..He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Then why is that we do not receive?
There are things we do not receive because we do not ask for them!
“..Yet you do not have BECAUSE YOU DO NOT ASK.”(James 4:2). For some, it’s pride that keeps them from asking God. “I don’t need any help” is their attitude. There are some things you could have had already in your life, or some that God will never give you because you will not ask Him for them, so, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Why haven’t you asked God? You don’t want to get your heart right with God? You forgot? Lack of faith?
Many people get through life without God’s help, but that’s a low plan to live on! When we get to heaven, the last thing I would want to hear is, “See all these things I wanted to give you while you were on earth, but you forgot to ask!”
Illustration : Mr. Jones Goes To Heaven: There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angels that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse-it has no windows and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. “You really don’t want to see what’s in there,” he tells the new arrival. “Why would there be any secrets in heaven?” Jones wonders. “What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there?” When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure. Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr. Jones almost knocks him over in his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons. “These boxes all have names on them,” Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, “Do I have one?” “Yes, you do.” Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. “Frankly,” Peter says, “if I were you….” But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the “J” aisle to find his box. Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition and lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before. Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth … but Mr. Jones had never asked.
If I do not receive something from God, I don’t want it to be because I didn’t ask for it.
Illustration: There is a passage of scripture in Joshua 15:18-19 where Caleb’s daughter had received some land from her father, but it was a dry land without water. She said,“Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.” She was not afraid to ask. If you have the thought, “I should just be satisfied with what I have and not bother anyone,” then you may end up with a south land with no water on it! True, this would be better than no land at all, but why not have both? Notice she did not ask for one spring but for “springs,” and her father gave her at least four (see verse 19). When she asked, she could have said, “May I have a spring?” But hey, if you’re going to ask, then ask for “springs!” If we are going to ask just for our own selfishness or self-interest, then yes, that would be wrong. I also do not want to imply we should be unsatisfied or ungrateful with what we have in this life. But I thought we were in this for our Lord and getting souls saved, and if money and buildings will help accomplish this, then ask God for them!
Here is the verse where this powerful and profound revelation is being given direct to us by Jesus Himself:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened … If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11)
Simply ask the Lord for whatever it is you are needing or wanting, and He will grant the prayer request
Illustration: Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. “A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. ‘Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won’t feel so lonely.’ That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, ‘If God sent that, I’m sure He also sent a doll!’ And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child’s sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies’ group to include both of those specific articles.”
Illustration: Things looked bleak for the children of George Muller’s orphanage at Ashley Downs in England. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whose father was a close friend of Muller was visiting in the home. Muller took her hand and said, “Come and see what our Father will do.” In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was there no food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home’s account. Muller prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.” Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. “Mr. Muller,” he said, “I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 o’clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is.” Muller thanked him and gave praise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give the children the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.
Illustration: A story is told of a man who borrowed money from a widow lady, promising to invest it safely and at good interest. This man not only made poor investments with the money but failed to pay any interest to the lady. The only thing the lady could do was pray. The matter dragged on for several years. One day a Christian businessman, who had known about this situation, asked if he could buy the entire indebtedness and try to collect it. He said that if he didn’t succeed he would just write it off as a business debt. This lady and her family had prayed about this matter for many years and had just turned it over to the Lord. It was such a joy to them to see how God heard and answered their prayers through the kindness of a wealthy Christian brother
Illustration: When Luther’s puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes; he (Martin Luther) said, ‘Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope.”
“Ask,” promised Jesus, “and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Mark 11: 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, BELIEVE THAT YOU RECEIVE THEM, AND YOU WILL HAVE THEM.
The Bible says, “When you pray, believe that you receive, and you shall have.” If I’m not having, I know I must be missing it somewhere. I know God’s Word isn’t wrong.
Illustration: Suppose today was your birthday, and I told you I had bought you a watch and then held it out to you as a gift. And suppose you replied, “I believe you got me a watch. You said you did. I believe you did. I’m just waiting for it to come into manifestation. I believe it will sometime.” Well, you missed it entirely. The watch is yours. I’ve tried to give it to you. You just have to act on your faith that the watch belongs to you and then reach out and receive it.
God has already provided healing for you. In the mind of God, you’re already healed. God remembers when He laid our sickness and disease on Jesus, and in the mind of God, that was the moment we were healed. Remember First Peter 2:24 says, “By whose stripes you were healed.” It’s past tense, a done deal.
I like to say it this way: Whether it’s a headache, toothache, toe-ache, cancer, paralysis, or the worst thing you can think of, in the spirit realm your healing is already packaged with your name on it.
Some may ask, “Why don’t I have it?” It’s just waiting for you to come and claim it. When do you claim it? After you pray? A week later? Next month? When the symptoms are gone? No! The Bible says to believe you receive when you pray. Right then, when you pray, is present tense. And you shall have it!
It may not be manifested on the outside yet, but we know it’s ours because we received it in our spirit. Many times I’ve known on the inside I had received a certain thing that hadn’t shown up yet. But I kept my faith in God’s Word, and it wasn’t long before it showed up. Some things may take time, but when you believe you receive when you pray, and you’re willing to stand your ground, believing you received, you won’t wait long!
Unbelief is really taking sides against God’s Word. Some people are always believing that God is going to do something for them, but faith believes that He has done, and is doing. They just see everything getting worse. They keep looking at the wrong thing – at the symptoms, at conditions, at themselves – and so they walk in unbelief and destroy the effects of their praying.
F.B. Meyer once said that “Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.”
Illustration: One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”
See yourself as having received. It is simply wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong talking that defeats us.
Acting in faith is equally important to us today if we expect to receive from God. We must act like the Word of God is true. When I speak of acting like the Word is true, I’m not talking about writing checks when there is no money in the bank, or throwing away medicine when a life-threatening illness or condition exists in one’s body. Such actions do not demonstrate faith — they are acts of foolishness and presumption.
One way we act in faith is by saying what God says about our needs. Do our words line up with God’s Word or do they contradict God’s Word? Often faith is negated simply through wrong speaking or through allowing worry and fear to dominate our thinking. We say we are trusting God to provide for our financial needs. But at the same time, we worry and fret about how we’re going to pay our bills. One minute we’re saying that God’s Word is true, and the next minute we contradict everything we’ve said with our words and actions.
Our actions must correspond with our believing if we are to receive from God. Or it will be dead faith
Illustration: To illustrate dead faith, “It is that kind of faith which would lead a man to take a bottle of medicine from his medicine cabinet. Looking at the instructions on it, he says, ‘I’m sure they’re correct. I have all confidence in the source of the medicine. I know who wrote these directions. I believe everything about it. I know this will relieve my headache, if I just take it.’ But he takes the medicine bottle and puts it back on the shelf. He doesn’t lose his headache. It continues on. Yet he can say I believe that medicine. I believe all about that medicine. But still he won’t take it. That’s dead faith.”
Until our actions correspond with our faith, we will experience continual failure in life.
Illustration: I can say that the Lord is the strength of my life, but if I continue to talk about my weaknesses and lack of faith, I will be defeated because there is no corresponding action.
Faith or belief is acting on God’s Word!”
Illustration: Some Go To Church…
Illustration: I remember while preaching in one church that a man and his family joined our church in a short time. It wasn’t long after that he was calling members trying to sell them some kind of insurance. I don’t think they stayed very long in our church. I talked to the man as to why they had stopped coming to our church and he said he had some differences with our teaching and/or doctrine. Honestly, I don’t think that was the problem. I think he’d sold as many insurance policies as he could and then he quit and went to another church.
Why Do You Go To Church? What’s Your Motive? Do You Go For The Right Reason Or The Wrong Reason.
Recently I dreamed, and in the dream I saw Jesus. Jesus was crying in my dream. He was broken hearted. I asked Him, Jesus, Why Are You Crying? He replied to me, I have more request for new cars than I have for lost souls.
God is not Santa Claus? Prayer if properly prayed is for the benefit of the whole and is not selfish.
Pleasure becomes many Christian’s motive. God’s glory should be the motive.
When Christians prayed in Acts, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, Peter’s chains fell off and an angel lead him through locked gates and past sixteen Roman guards, and earthquake split Paul’s prison wide open without hurting anyone, the church grew from 120 to 3000 to 5000 to a great multitude with God adding daily those who were being saved.
James 4: 3 When you ask, you do not receive, BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Less than thirty years later, James writes to a church that doesn’t receive answers to prayer because they are not even praying! When they do pray, they do not receive because they ask with wrong motives.
Selfishness paralyzes prayer. When the church in Acts prayed, they received power and God received glory. When we pray, our goal must be God’s glory and not our own.
Have you ever thought about the possibility of praying wrongly?
We might think that -all that matters is praying. But how we pray does matter. James says that they prayed asking for things that they could spend on their passions. To state this another way, they were praying selfishly. They were not praying toward God’s will or what would best for them spiritually, they just prayed selfishly.
Some examples of this type of praying would be this:
All these are asking or praying amiss and those requests are never granted, at least not by God, of that I’m sure.
God will not honor such selfish prayers. I do not mean by this that is wrong to pray for ourselves or things that are going on in our lives. What I mean by selfishly is that they were praying to fulfill their passions and desires. It is the picture of turning God into the genie of the lamp who will fulfill our wishes
When you pray and ask God for something, what’s your motive?
Illustration: – We have heard people joke about someone asking God to win the lottery or something similar. Now honestly, you know that if someone is buying lots of lottery tickets and that person asks God to help them win, they might as well be spitting against the wind. God will not answer that kind of selfish prayer!
Some people live for pleasure and I guess some would even dare to ask God help them get all the pleasure they can in life. However, 2 Timothy 3:4 speaks of those who are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. The two are opposite of one another.
We may be praying for the right thing, it may even be the will of God, but because we pray with the wrong motives our prayers are not answered.
Why Do I Pray For The Things I Pray For?
If you are praying for financial blessing in your life, Why do you want that blessing? Is it so that you can
Or is so that you can get More things for yourself A new car, A better home, More respect, A higher position or social standing Or power
God wants to bless you but He will not bless you at the cost of your soul.
1 Tim 6:9…9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Illustration: I have seen over the year’s men and women give their hearts to the Lord and Begin to follow His way /laws. I have seen the blessing begin to flow into their lives but instead of that blessing drawing them closer to God it takes them farther away.
It would have been better if they had never been blessed at all! It would have been better if they had gotten a job that would have kept them humble. Because now they are in danger of losing their very soul.
Mark 4:19…19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
It is not necessarily the thing for which we are asking that is wrong, but rather the reason we ask for it.
Illustration: A member in a church where I was pastor expressed a concern for the salvation of her husband. She had gone to several members of the church, asking them to pray for his salvation–a legitimate request. One day I asked her why she wanted her husband to get saved. She answered, “Because we would be so much happier in our married life. We could share the same interests, and life for me in the home would be much easier.” I am not critical of that woman for wanting those things. A home is doubly blessed when husband and wife walk together in the Lord. But to pray for her husband’s salvation for the reasons she gave was selfishness on her part.
The right motive should have been that the husband might serve for God’s kingdom.
If you ask for things from God with the wrong motive, asking for them just so you can keep feeding your passions, God is not inclined to give you anything. In fact, a lot of times He just says NO.
Illustration: For one woman it seemed like it was impossible to make ends meet. She would take care of the kids while her husband worked during the day. The husband would take care of the kids while she worked part-time in the evenings. She never would come to church on Sundays and also to life group on Wednesday, giving the excuse of working overtime to make ends meet. She asked the pastor to pray for promotion of her husband. The motive she said was that, life would be so much easier if her husband got a promotion and that they could even go to life group meetings on Wednesday nights and also attend Sunday worship service.”
But even after praying the husband never got promotion. But one day the pastor overheard from a friend of that woman that you this woman really had other plans. She and her husband had already planned that if he gets the promotion, he will go playing cricket on sundays and she will join her friends for ladies kitty party on wednesday.
There was a wrong motive behind praying for her husbands promotion.
Illustration: One scriptural example of praying amiss would be where Jesus talked with some who trusted in themselves. He spoke about a Pharisee and a Publican going into the temple to pray. As the Pharisee prayed, he listed off all of the things that he does, even in the prayer itself, he says that he’s thankful that he’s not like other men, so there was great pride in the Pharisees heart. As the Publican prayed, he was very humble and didn’t even look up, he smote his chest, and prayed for mercy because he knew his sinful state and where his hope is. Jesus said that the Publican was justified and the other was not, and He goes on to talk about those who will be exalted and those who will be humbled. (Luke 18:9-14).The examples of the prayers themselves show an acceptable prayer, and praying amiss.
Illustration : Suppose I invite you to my house for dinner. I told you we were having chicken biryani. I was going to make it. Just suppose! I told you I would need pancake mix, baking soda, brownie mix, water, milk, vinegar. You would think I was crazy. Those ingredients don’t make chicken biryani. You say “Why can’t I make it the way I want too?” God says love and obey me, I’ll give you such happiness that you can barely handle it. But we tell Him that we want to do it ourself. We put anger, hostility, sex, narcotics, pride, and we wonder why it don’t work. God says you don’t have what you want because you demand to do it your way and You create hell on earth and most of the time blame God when the biryani of life you make is a disaster and don’t taste good anymore.
God may not be blessing you the way you want to be blessed because He is trying to save you from a bunch of future problems.
Illustration: There is an old legend that Midas, one of the Phrygian kings, performed some acts of kindness for which the gods promised to give him whatever he should ask. His request was that everything he touched should turn to gold. For a while it seemed that he was most fortunate in his request, but as the very food he touched was changed to gold, he soon besought the gods to take back their fatal gift. Aren’t you glad that our God does not give us everything we ask? How terrible it would be if God did answer our selfish prayers. We ought to thank Him that He doesn’t instead of complaining against Him.
As a child of God we need to be aspiring to higher motives, not leaning to the old lust of this world.
Illustration: Many pray for revival , Many pray for church growth. These are not bad things God wants our church to grow. He wants us to have revival. He wants to pour his spirit out upon us
But ask yourself- Why do we pray for these things? Do we pray for revival out of selfish motives?
Or do we pray for revival because
1 Cor 10:6..6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
The danger of praying amiss or praying with a wrong attitude is that you will be led into captivity.
The devil hears your prayers. Many times he is right there leaning over your shoulder. He is Listening in On your conversation with God. He hears our prayer And if he knows your attitude is wrong he is going to try to answers your prayer. Knowing it will lead you astray and knowing it will lead you into bondage.
Illustration: You’re praying for a husband or wife. So the devil sends along this Romeo. He isn’t saved. He doesn’t want to live for God But you think God has answered your prayers because he is every thing you ever dreamed about Or along comes Juliet. She is perfect, Beautiful. Every thing you ever wanted in a women and more. But be careful because she is going to lead you into bondage. She is going to lead you astray. Right out of the will of God.
Illustration: I have seen others pray for jobs. Suddenly they are offered the perfect job. The best pay they have ever had. Benefits like A company car. The only catch is they have to Move to another city, Work on weekends. Be careful of who is answering your prayers.
If you are praying with a wrong attitude or motives the devil will try to use your very prayers to lead you into captivity. But there is hope.
2 Chr 6:37-40..37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; 38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: 39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. 40 Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
Illustration: I recall reading Roy Hession’s auto biography titled My Calvary Road. Roy had been praying for revival. He has seen some fruit in his ministry but he wanted God to do greater things. As God tarried he realized his motives were off base. He was not as concerned with the glory of the Father so much as he was concerned with becoming a well known evangelist whom God would greatly use. Revival would be a way Roy could make a name for himself. Motives matter to God.
So what do you do if you realize your motives for prayer are crooked, even if the things you are praying for are actually something you know God would want?
Do we just wait until our motives are right? Do we stop praying?
Shortly after Roy realized his selfish ambition and impure motives he was asked to come speak at a series of evangelistic meetings. Roy declined the invitation and informed the organizer that his motives were not right. He was afraid he would desire glory for himself if people came to Christ. The wiser older man who organized the event wrote back and said this, “Roy, if you wait until your heart is free from every aspect of sin and impure motives before serving God, you will never serve God. No. Instead you need to come here to preach. Confess your impure motives to God as sin, repent, and preach the gospel.”
That’s good advice. John tells us that when we know we have sin we should confess it (1 John 1:9). You deal with false motives the same way you deal with any kind of sin, confess it and repent.
God will hear our prayers. He is faithful to answer those prayers.
1 Jn 3:22..22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1 Jn 5:14..14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
The key in these two scriptures is that we ask for things that are pleasing in His sight and according to His will.
Many times we feel God is not hearing our prayers because they are not being answered
The truth is, He is hearing our prayers and He has chosen not to answer them. He knows if he does, it will cause more harm than good.
The key to having your prayers heard and answered by God are in turning to Him with all your heart and all your soul and Asking God to forgive you for your wrong motives and wrong desires.
God desires to meet with us, to move in our behalf, but it must be according to His will
God Will Bless You To Be A Blessing. God wants to Bless you but God wants your motives to be pure. Can you give up anything that you have right now that God would ask you to do? Abraham was asked to give up his promised son and he was willing to do it. That is why Abraham was so blessed in every area of Life.
Think through what you ask God for, examine your heart, look for real to figure out your motive and the return to God either to ask for nothing, to confess your sin or ask God once again assured you know just why you are asking. So, let’s make this a moment of action or mission- Ask God to show you where you ask with poor motives and ask forgiveness.
“Father, purify our hearts. We desire you to move in our midst in order that your name would become famous! Lord, forgive us for the silly notion we sometimes have in our hearts that we are making a name for ourselves. We confess our motives are often to spend what you give on ourselves. Forgive us and bring glory to YOUR NAME which is above all names.”