Ask for Anything from God (?)

What is your heart desiring? Fame? Popularity? Wealth? Love? Well, ask for anything from God! Afterall, He told us in Matthew 7:7 to ask, and it will be given to us, didn’t He?

But nope, that’s not the way it works. For before He said that in chapter 7, He too has said in Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We ask for things from God most of the time. When we get it, we say God is good. What about when we don’t? Does God stop being good then? Has He stopped listening to our prayers?

The problem has never been with God. Sometimes, the problem lies with our desires. Do the things we desire align with God’s desire? When given to us, will it bring us closer to or further from God? Does it glorify Him, or is it simply an ego boost for us?

Looking back at Matthew 6:33, in order for “all these things will be added to you” to happen, we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”.

The same thing is also said in Psalms 37:4, where it says,

“Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

In order for us to gain the desires of our heart, we must first delight ourselves in Him. Because when we learn to seek after God’s own heart, we will then learn to have the right desires, the ones that align with His, the ones that glorify His name, and not our mere worldly pleasures. And when our desires align with His, count on it, He will fulfill the desires of our hearts!

What we desire for determines who we are. Is God your heart’s utmost desire today?

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Out of All “Better” Ways to Save Us: Why Die?

You know what? Sometimes God doesn’t make much sense to me. Yup, you just heard me said that. Please read on, and you’ll understand.

It has struck me for quite some time, this one single question:

Why did Jesus have to die – like this?

Hideous Death

I guess that question came from a mixture of having too many happily-ever-after-tales, my curiosity, and my stubbornness.

But someone tell me it’s a good question, please. It is, isn’t it?

Now think about it. God created the universe. He created the Law. It was His game, it was His rules. He could have changed them. He could have saved mankind in a less hurtful way. Why should He die? It doesn’t make any sense. He is THE God. He could have forgiven us in any way He wanted to, couldn’t He? Why die?

That question bugged me. And to be frank, it made me feel bad. After all that He’s done on the cross for me, I decided to respond by…questioning it?

Feeling that it was too much of a doubt, too ungrateful of a question and that upon being asked and not finding an answer will cause more harm than good (and possibly impede other people’s faith), I tucked the question away, somewhere in the back of my head. You see, for someone undeservingly saved by grace and mercy, I am a rather ungrateful brat. I am rather curious in nature, and that curiosity too has made me question a lot of things about God. And trust me, you don’t wanna know how logical (re:stubborn) I can get. Until today. I was talking to my best friend about the Bible. And that question surfaced to my conscious mind again.

“Should I ask? But what if I don’t get the answer? What if this question hinders other people’s faith instead?”

But somehow, I just had this urge to discuss this question with this friend of mine. Maybe because I knew that he is spiritually mature enough to handle these kinds of questions without hindering his faith despite not getting an answer. Or maybe I hoped that he could give me a satisfying answer. But now I believe that it’s an invitation from God to know Him and His unconditional love better.

So I asked him.

Hey, don’t you wonder sometimes? Why did God have to die? I mean, He could have just forgiven us without dying, couldn’t He? It’s not like someone has put the rule in place and told Him “You have to die on a cross to save these sinners”. And even if someone did, it’s not like it matters. He is THE God. There ain’t no telling Him what to do. He can do what He wants to, save who He wants to, in the way He wants to.

I was ready for prejudice, to be honest. Or possibly rebuked on how I should not be questioning all the works that He has done on the cross and so on. Yet to my surprise, he said, “You know what? I’ve asked the exact same question before. Why don’t we look for the answer?”

And so we searched for answers. I went through pages, chunks of texts, long paragraphs, and scholarly theological articles. Yet nothing could satisfy my insatiable need for an answer that answers my question. And then the answer that slapped me real hard in the face came in one short yet mind-blowing sentence:

God is the God who achieves what God wants through suffering, self-sacrificial love

-Will Willimon

BOOM. It blew my mind.

Yes.

God could have simplified things to save us.

He could have chosen not to die.

On a cross.

Beaten.

Mocked.

Scorned.

But He didn’t.

The fact that He Himself had to die on a cross, not only showed how great our transgressions were, but of how great the love that conquered it, cleansed it, and made us worthy of His love.

The fact that God was the one to put the laws in place yet instead of going against His righteousness and breaking them when He could have done so, gave His one and only Son for us showed His unchanging, righteous and loving nature at the same time. Our God is a covenant-keeping God. And the good news is Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” – He will never stop loving you. He had to go to such lengths to keep His covenant with you. Even when you were not worth saving, let alone loving. Of His faithfulness therefore, you can be assured.

He could have saved us only with His Word anyway. He could have died a less terrible death anyway. He could have even chosen not to save us anyway. We’re sinners anyway. But He died despite all the reasons He could have decided not to anyway. Because He loves you anyway.

And we wonder why did He have to die? Why didn’t He make things simpler? Why didn’t He die a less terrible death?

Then it  struck me and humbled me. The fact that we thought of such a question (re: why didn’t He save us in a simpler way) shows how finite we are, how humane we are, and how we’re still living in the flesh.

He could have done so, if He wanted to. But He is not us. While we humans want to show our love in the least hurtful way for us possible, He didn’t. His love knows no compromises. And His ways are not our ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts

To sum it all up, let me tell you why He had to die in such a terrible way:

He loves you that much, that He found no reason to lessen His suffering, in order to save you.

Have you done anything to deserve it? No, it was all grace. Can you do anything in return? Not really, nothing could pay off what He’s done. But giving our lives to Him should come naturally as an expression of gratitude for all that He’s done. And I decide to give it to Him. Will you do the same with me?

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Keeping It Burning

Do you remember that one point in your life, where you feel so close to God, and you feel so in love with Him? But that seemed so far away now. Cause most of the time your faith is just idling around, dropping low. Then you start thinking that the burning flame is gone. You forgot how it feels like to fall in love with Jesus that it requires all of you, and you feel like your faith is used up, somewhere along the journey.

Sometimes when I have a conversation with my brothers and sisters in Christ, we’d talk about how we’re doing, spiritually. And here’s a few answers you might have heard (or even said) as well:

“I’m feeling dry”

“I don’t know, it’s not quite there…”

“Not feeling very close to Him”

“My faith is weak at the moment”

“Fire is burning low”

And some of them would then ask me how I deal with these situations, thinking that I’ve never felt that way before. But I do! I felt that way a lot of times. As a matter of fact, I still do sometimes, but I’m grateful that He is guiding me step by step to love and live His word more and more. Sometimes you get so distracted by things around you that you forget how it feels like to have Jesus as your heart’s utmost desire, day in day out.

The answer is actually pretty simple. In most (I say most, because sometimes it might not ne the reason) cases when you feel “dry”, it shows that you are not spending enough time with Him.

Have you been reading your Bible lately? Have you been praying? Have you been spending time with Him? If you haven’t, then you know why you’re feeling dry. Because Romans 10:17 says it all:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Not reading His Word and saying you’re running dry on faith is like not controlling what you eat and not exercising and complaining that you’re not losing weight (I am an expert at the latter). You have to work on it. It’s true that faith is a gift from God, but a gift is not of any use if you do not open your heart to receive it. And how do you open your heart? By loving and living the Word.

And maybe you’re thinking “But I read my Bible everyday, and it’s still not working for me. I’m still dry”. I understand. I’ve been through it too. Those days when you read the Bible, you go to church, you pray, and nothing happens. It only seems like a one-way communication. Why?

Because it is.

More often than not, we screen through our Bible plan or daily devotional and call it reading the Bible. We go to church with our minds elsewhere and call it going to church. We close our eyes and do a soliloquy and call it praying. And yet we wonder, why does God seem so far away?

God always wants to talk to you. Because He loves talking to you! The question is, are you there to listen? It takes our heart to fall in love with Jesus and light up the fire, but it also takes our discipline to stay in love with Him and keep the fire burning. Seek for Him, and make Him your heart’s utmost desire. As it is written in Matthew 7:7, when we seek, we shall find.

We need to set our priorities right. Maybe you’re too busy with something or someone that you no longer have time for God. Whatever is distracting you from God, lay it all down at His feet today. Remember how much He loves you, remember how He brought you to your best, and loved you at your worst. And fall in love with Jesus, over and over again 🙂

“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk. Walking in the rain is romantic, and not annoying. You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you’re crazy about. When you are apart from each other, it’s painful, even miserable. He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together. We need to be like this with God”

– Francis Chan