Hoping and Wishing...
"When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you"
Jesus Did It!
Ah, were life so simple! Wish upon a star. Cast a coin into a fountain, into a wishing well. Carry your "good luck" charm everywhere you go. Lady luck will surely shine. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Life gets rough--life gets tough--and eventually, we get enough!
But, are you aware the Bible plainly says that God wants to give us the desires of our heart? How sad that billions of people in the world today know little or nothing about it. For so many years, I was one of those persons, depending on luck, good fortune, or just "hoping" and "wishing". Even after I became a Christian, it took me many years to understand how the system works, for I often thought of God as some heavenly cookie jar, and that simply because I joined myself to Him I would be living in the "bless me mode" which obligated Him to give me any and everything I wanted. But that was not quite how it is....Here is what I had to learn:
Number One: I had grossly underestimated Him.
"The thief cometh not but for to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly," Jesus said. (John 10:10)
The Greek meaning for "more abundantly" means exactly what it implies: beyond, super-abound, superfluous...until it overflows! Are you aware that Jesus not only came to give us salvation, but also AN ABUNDANT LIFE HERE ON EARTH?
"God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we dare ask or think...infinitely BEYOND our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, and dreams." (Ephesians 3:20) No matter what you may be desiring at this very moment, what He desires to give you goes so far beyond your wants it would probably end up in the stratosphere!
Is your life enjoying this kind of abundance right now? Or are you barely getting by, sickly, with no peace and no joy?
Number Two: Sometimes I was unable to get things for the simple reason that I didn't ask for them. Can you believe that? I just assumed that since He knows everything, (including my thoughts), it would not be necessary. Wrong again.
"You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. (James 4:2)
Once, I drove from Texas to Colorado with several friends. We had two cars and had decided to spend the first day driving from Dallas to Raton Pass, New Mexico and there to spend the night. But when we got to Raton Pass, there were no motel rooms available. All were full. We were very tired, but I mentioned we should pray for God to give us one and so we did. Then we drove down the road about two miles, and there was a luxury motel with a sign "Vacancy". How happy we all were, until we opened the car doors to go inside. An awful smell permeated the air! I looked across the highway, and there was a STOCKYARD full of cattle!
"No, No! we cannot stay here. That smell...!" they cried.
"But we prayed, and God gave us a room," I argued. But I could not persuade them.
"We will drive on, and there will be another one up ahead," they said to me.
But as we drove on, I began to get an uneasy feeling--- we had asked God and He supplied. Ungrateful...
Sure enough, we drove all night and the next morning we crossed into Colorado...thoroughly exhausted. We took the first miserable motel we could find, and fell into bed. After several hours, we awoke. God began to speak to my spirit.
"Yes, you were ungrateful. You asked for a motel, and I gave you a nice one. But because of the smell of cattle, it was not good enough for you. My son was born in a manager and made his bed among the animals...but not you. Don't you know, if you had asked me to change the direction of the wind, I would have done so?"
There I was---not knowing I could ask abundantly, and that He would give abundantly and beyond my desires. But I had never even thought to ask...
Abraham had a similar experience. The angels of God came by one day on their way to Sodom. They were going to destroy it. But they let Abraham know their intentions. It frightened Abraham...his nephew and family lived there! So he began to intercede for them with the angels.
"If you find 50 righteous living there, will you spare it?" he asked.
"Yes, we will spare it for 50" they answered. "45?" "Yes, 45".
"How about 40?" "Yes, 40". Hmmm..., Abraham thought.
And he was mentally counting up how many were in Lot's family. But he was uneasy to provoke the angels...and timidly kept asking until the number got down to 8. Surely that would cover Lot and his wife and all his children too. The angels agreed. But Abraham should have kept on asking...for as it turned out, only three followed Lot out of Sodom before it was destroyed.
Other times, our motives are not right.
"You ask, and receive not because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:3)
Once, when I was in Indonesia, a lady came to me for prayer. "I need you to pray for my boyfriend" she said. I asked her what was the problem. "Well, he married the wrong woman. He was supposed to marry me!" she explained.
I was flabbergasted and shocked. "But he made his choice...and it was not you" I answered her. "You must surely realize that you are coveting another woman's husband" I continued.
"But God told me he was to marry me. And they have not had any children because he disobeyed!" she said.
I looked at her in the eye: "Woman, you are coveting, and that is a sin. I will not pray for you until you get on your knees before God and confess your sin and ask forgiveness. Then I must hear you pray for them to have a child and never again try to interfere with their marriage."
Yes, she wanted her heart's desire...but it was asking amiss. She had come to me for prayer because she knew in her heart that she could not ask God herself. It was not God's will to force that man to divorce his wife and marry her...it was contrary to His Word. She asked amiss.
"Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth". (Luke 12:15)
Our throwing coins in a fountain is not how we get things from God. Just hoping and wishing doesn't either. Asking has a three-fold requirement that determines our receiving:
I must not fail to ask. I must not ask amiss. I must ask in faith, believing.
WHERE DO WE MISS THIS ABUNDANT LIFE?
Jesus never did things the ordinary way. When He prayed, nets broke with the load of fish, fragments were left over, the best wine was saved for last.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. You shall receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:23)
I once spent Christmas as a guest of a friend in Malaysia. She took a large group of people to a beach resort house. This woman had been so kind to me, and I loved her dearly. She had a beautiful house, and had also built a fish pond and decorated around it with lovely plants and sea shells. I wanted to give her a Christmas gift, and thought to myself; perhaps I might find a shell on the beach that she would like. So I went down to the water and began walking in the sand hoping to find something. But I walked and walked and walked and found nothing. Finally, my ankles were tired and I stopped awhile to rest. I prayed, "God, please help me to find something that Winne would like and enjoy." Immediately, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. "If you would stand still, I will bring it to you!" Stand still? Really?
So I stood right at the water's edge, perhaps for about ten minutes. I did not see one shell come in. But then, I looked and saw something in the water about 20 yards away. It kept bobbing up and down. Then the waves came crashing in, and at my feet was a round object...it was a fishing float ball. I picked it up, and saw some strange Chinese writing. I took it inside the house and showed it to Winnie. She almost screamed in excitement. "That writing is the name of my ancestral home in China! It had to have come off a boat from that village!" What treasure! Nothing I could have given her would have made her any happier! Again, super-abundance!
Thirdly, we must be willing to yield to the will of God.
Rebecca was a beautiful 25-year old girl. Unmarried. I was sleeping in her bedroom at night in India, so we often had long talks. One night I came into the room and she was crying. "Rebecca, what is happening?" I asked her. Sobbing, she told me. "My father and mother are arranging my marriage. I am so frightened. What if I get a man who will treat me horrible like many of my girlfriends." I knew what she was talking about. Indian streets are full of unfortunate women who have been abused and even thrown into the streets because they did not produce a male heir. Customs and traditions influence all of Indian life and culture.
"Rebecca, let's pray and ask God to help," I said. "I will ask you a question, Rebecca. Are you willing for God to choose your husband? Not your father, not your mother, not yourself...just God?" She agreed. "Then you tell Him what you desire, Rebecca". She thought a minute then said, "Well, I would like for him to be tall, and to have a mustache. Also, that he be a Christian man and like music. And, (she paused) I would like for him to live in another country. I want to get out of India."
"Okay, Rebecca. We will now pray." I held her hands and began to talk to God. "Father, Rebecca needs your help. She is about to be married. But she wants you to make the choice. You did that for Abraham when he sent his servant to find a wife for your son, Isaac. You have heard what she desires, Lord, so grant her the desires of her heart. And give me a dream tonight. I want to see him." That was my prayer.
That night I had a dream. A tall Indian man with a mustache came to me. "Tell Rebecca about me," he said. Then he took me to his apartment. It was very tiny, but also very clean and neat. I saw his shirts folded in the closet, and in the kitchen I saw a refrigerator and an electric stove. Then we went to church, and I saw him worshipping God and playing a guitar. That was the dream.
I told Rebecca about the dream when she awoke, and she was so excited. I went over every detail of the dream with her, but then she looked at me puzzled. "An electric stove? There aren't any electric stoves in India. They are all gas." "BUT I ASKED THAT HE LIVE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, THAT IS WHY!!" she exclaimed.
Several months later, after I had returned home from overseas, I got a letter. It was from Rebecca. "I am getting married. A man from Kuwait came to visit his father in South India. My uncle was visiting in that house too. While he was there, the man mentioned that it was about time he got married, as he now was settled and had a good job. Rebecca's uncle told him about me, and he came to Madras to talk to my father and mother. They called me into the room, and once we saw each other...we knew! I am so happy!"
When I returned to India, I called long-distance to Kuwait and talked with Rebecca. "Rebecca, are you happy?" "Oh yes! I am SO HAPPY!". "Was he everything you asked for, Rebecca?" 'Yes. He is tall, with a mustache, and he loves music like I do. We both attend church together." "What about your apartment?" I asked. "Oh it is very tiny, but clean and neat."
God had kept His word down to the last item, for I just HAD to ask her: "Rebecca...is there an electric stove in the kitchen?" "OH YES! I EVEN HAVE AN ELECTRIC STOVE!!" she cried.
"Thou anointest my head, my cup runneth over..."
God, who knows all, also is able to see beyond our present circumstances. He knows the end from the beginning! And no matter if He denies our request, it is only because His love will overshadow us for our good. That is why we must pray as Jesus did: "...nevertheless, not my will but thine be done".
When we examine all these things, we find one last problem: unworthiness. That can have two aspects: if we have never become a follower of Jesus Christ, we are not in "the Vine" as a branch. If we are living in unconfessed sin, have no fellowship with our heavenly Father, do not believe His Word, we will find it difficult to come to God with our requests. Usually, this person seeks others to do their praying for them.
"If our heart condemn us not, we have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."
Self-condemnation is one reason why many never get to the point where faith can take hold. But how easy it is for us to become worthy! Remember the story of the prodigal son? He left home with his inheritance, eager to taste all that the world could offer him. After all his money was gone, his friends leave him and he is destitute...eating with the pigs. It was then that he "came to himself" and began to see what a fool he had been. "My father's servants eat better than I do. I will go home to my Father and tell him, "Father, I am no more worthy to be called your son. But if you will just let me be as one of the hired servants, I will be grateful." His Father was so overjoyed to see his son return, that he had the fatted calf killed for a celebration dinner, had a robe and a ring put on his son, then embraced him with total acceptance and restoration.
That is what God wants us to know. His love for us is indescribable, inexhaustible, and infinite. We can never know its depths.
What is your need today? What is your heart's desire? Don't just hope and wish. Get rid of every hindering thought and action that stands in the way of praying and asking God for your need. If it is sin, confess and repent of it. If you are in self-condemnation, read the Word of God to see how much God loves you and is always willing to forgive you.
Search your heart and mind--are you willing to submit to God's will, acknowledging that His care, love, and purposes for your life are far beyond your understanding? Then, having done all...stand!
"...let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."
Throwing coins in a fountain is not such a bad analogy to use if we think of it in the right way. For the coins that are tossed make many ripples as they break the surface of the water, then they fall to the bottom of the pond and lay there as the ripples once again dissipate into nothingness.
That is also how we walk in His abundant Life: a prayer sent heavenward
disturbs the powers of darkness for a moment, but faith will keep it lying
before the Throne of Grace....
MARY E. ADAMS
MARY E. ADAMS
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