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Thursday, January 23, 2014

God Isn't Bothered by Your Questions

Luke 7:18-28 (ESV)
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John,  19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”  21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight.  22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts.  26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

27 This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’  28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Wait a minute! Wasn’t this John the Baptist who leaped in his mother’s womb when she saw  Jesus’ mother? Wasn’t he filled with the Holy Spirit from birth? Wasn’t he the one who baptized Jesus? Didn’t he say that he needed to be baptized by Jesus rather than baptizing Jesus? He said that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, right? So, what happened that made him ask if Jesus was really the Messiah?

Yet, he asks this question.

Maybe he needed to make sure. His life was given to prepare the way for the Messiah. He preached a message which pointed toward Jesus.  He stood for righteousness no matter what was said of him or to him. He lived an austere life that not only proved his devotion but also drove him to his purpose. His whole life had been lived to prepare the way for the Messiah. Yes, he must be sure.

So, he sent messengers to ask who he hoped to be the Messiah if He really was the Messiah.

Jesus answered with proof. John needed that proof. He had spent his whole life with this purpose. He deserved this answer.

Jesus doesn’t rebuke the messengers for asking John’s question. Instead, He praises John after they leave. He gives John the highest praise.  It was okay to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah.

I realized a long time ago that God wasn’t bothered with my questions when they really sought to confirm what God wanted me to do. These questions weren’t accusing God. They didn’t question God’s goodness, power, wisdom or goodness. These questions were not given as ultimatums whether or not I will do what He wants. They are questions which ask if I am going the right direction. They ask whether I really heard from God. God has never minded my questions.

I think some people think that it is wrong to ask God if they have heard Him. So, they wonder and sometimes miss what He has said because they dismiss His leadings.

So, I have learned to ask when I’m not sure. And guess what. . . God isn’t bothered by it.


Anthony Chia said...

Get our frame right, so as to be right

When the issue is clearly, we seeking confirmation of what God, particularly, wants us to do, we can always go ahead and ask; generally, I don't see scripture exhorting us not to do that. Accusing God of ill and murmuring against God are different matters, these we must NOT do.

Testing God, too, we are NOT to do. OT Scripture has it, and Jesus Himself, when tempted by Satan, repeated that for us, that we are NOT to test God. People also need to understand what falls under testing God and what does NOT; not every request you ask God for is testing God, otherwise why does Scripture exhorts prayer, for others or for ourselves.

From writings on the internet, we can see there is confusion, and it arose because some people did not distinguish the different scenarios. For example, Gideon's putting out of a fleece is not a case of testing God, but some people discussed It as that, and then dished out "we should avoid asking". One of the reasons given was that we have the Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit, Gideon did not. That is not exactly it, for, does that mean you don't make any request of God. No, in fact, Scripture teaches us how to pray, how to make requests of God, only don't test God, and like I said, we got to be clear what amounts to testing God and what does NOT.

Also, at times, this "loose" topic is discussed as seeking signs from God. The verse in Scripture, of Jesus saying no signs would be given, are often used by people outside of its context which included the intent and purpose of Jesus saying what He said. It isn't in all circumstances, God will no longer give signs. For example, In the Great Commission scripture passage we can read that it said signs and wonders would follow ..... Another example, words of knowledge, which I do operate in, can be a sign, too.

If we are strictly talking about seeking confirmation from God, it is not necessary to be a subject of signs; of the case Ps Prentis discussed in this blog entry, John the Baptist was not asking for signs, he was asking his disciples to ask The Lord Jesus, directly. It was just that Jesus did not answer directly but pointed to the signs of Him healing the sick, miracles, etc (listed in the scripture text quoted in the blog entry). When we ask God, He could answer in a number of ways - speaking back to you in audible voice, speaking to you in your thought (you receive the reply in a thought, which come to you, which is not of you. I hear from God this way, it is not audible voice because I don't receive by the ears), giving you a vision, dream, a sign, etc.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

It is common when the uncertainty meter ticks high or "nothing seems moving" or we are confronting great opposition or possible ministry pause/cessation points are encountered, we seek confirmations about what we have done, what we are doing and what we are to do, moving forward; God does not despise our seeking clarification as part of our self-examination. In this respect, both John the Baptist and Jesus were examples. John was had come to almost the end of "he was to decrease and Jesus was to increase"; was imprisoned (Matthew 11) when he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask. Tradition has it that he was imprisoned for 12-18 months. From that imprisonment he went to his death, beheaded. Some people said things very negatively about John the Baptist because of his this asking, but if you look at Jesus' "eulogy given in advance" for John, The Lord gave no lack of positives for him. Jesus, when He was close to end of His ministry, Scripture specifically recorded for us that Jesus took time to seek the face of the Father. What do you think He prayed about? There was a contrasting one, Moses, but I will not go into it, here.
As Ps Prentis rightly pointed out, don't accuse God of ill or murmur against God in these moments, when we should self-examine properly.

Thank you Ps Prentis, from here, I am inspired to write for my own blog, 3 entries, in time to come, along the lines of 1. Seeking confirmation of faith vs excusing our unbelief; 2. Testing God, when it is, and when it is NOT; 3. It is still God we must to go, to calm the sapping seas!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions