Various attempts have been made by mankind to bridge the distance between God and man, that has come due to sin. Some tried to reach heaven through a self made Tower of Babel while others tried various other means. Simultaneously man started to take control of his destiny by influencing the various cosmic constellations and other forms of crafts. What has been decreed by an Almighty God, how can man, His creation succeed in changing that to an outcome of his choice? But is there a way to change an apparently impossible situation?
Yes, God has laid down the general pattern of life of an individual and his destination and then has given freedom to make a choice about the route or about reaching the destination altogether. Moses sends out 12 leaders of Israel, each a prominent person of his tribe, to find out details about the land to make plans for its conquest (Numbers 13:17-20 & 31-33). Out of the twelve, except Joshua and Caleb, the other ten declared, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we’. As a result all the people got discouraged and refused to go into the land to capture it at that time. After God’s anger was kindled against the people they got together and against Moses’ advice, decided to go and capture the mountaintop (Numbers 14:40-45). The Amalekites and the Canaanites attacked and defeated the Israelites. The entire adult generation of Israelites of that time, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness while they were wandering in the desert. They were all destined by God to enter the Promised Land but missed out through lack and loss of faith in God due to the report of the ten leaders of their tribes.
A rich young man who had probably succeeded in everything he did on his own efforts, wanted to know from Lord Jesus the way to eternal life with works (Mark 10:17-27). The Lord quoted to him the last six commandments concerning relationships with the people, which he proudly declared, he had been following since his younger days. Then he was told about the first two about making idols and having no other gods, for the Lord was aware of his love for money which was almost like his god. The command was to go and sell all and give to the poor and then come and follow Him, which he could not. Answering the disciples question about who can enter the kingdom of God if the rich find it difficult, for wealth was and is considered to be a state of blessedness, Lord Jesus declared, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible’.
The Son of God has promised a life of abundance to all believers and this is here on earth as well as thereafter (John 10:10). It is a life of fullness of joy and strength for body, soul and spirit instead of a life of lack, dissatisfaction and emptiness and only God can give this. Prophet Isaiah was commanded by God to go and tell Hezekiah, the king, about his impending death but since Hezekiah prayed to the LORD God, Isaiah was told to return back and tell the king about his life extension of fifteen years (Isaiah 38:1-8). God even permitted the time to turn back by about twenty minutes to a half hour as a confirmation of fulfillment of this promise.
God created the sun, moon and the stars ‘to rule over the day and over the night’ (Genesis 1:16-18). But after the fall these same constellations cast an adverse impact on the earth as also on the mankind. Astrologers use positions of the stars in relation to an individual’s birth chart to predict and attempt to change the future events of that person’s life. God has forbidden these practices for it involves use of means that bring no glory to God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). Whatever claims may be made but except God himself, no one else can change any situation that has been decreed by Him.
But what about Lord Jesus’ promise, ‘everything is possible for one who believes’ – After the Transfiguration when Lord Jesus came down from the mountain with the three disciples, the father of a boy with a mute spirit, cried out to the Lord, ‘if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes’ (Mark 9:22-24). The boy’s father sought His help to overcome his unbelief and the boy was healed by the Lord through deliverance from the evil spirit. Lord Jesus classified John the Baptist as the greatest among the prophets for he was the only one who had this special ministry about proclaiming Lord Jesus’ arrival as Messiah (Matthew 11:11). But the least among believers has been termed higher than him. It is so because a believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen the believers and be transformed into the likeness of the Lord.
After assuring the disciples about a place prepared for them in heaven, Lord Jesus blessed them in another way, ‘he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father’ (John 14:12). The disciples role on earth was not over but they were promoted to higher works of ‘destroying the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8). The reason for this is the presence of the all-powerful Holy Spirit indwelling in the believers to strengthen them. Apostle Paul mentions the Spirit of God as ‘of power, and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). He further declares that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). Apostle Paul was preaching in Troas and Eutychus, a young man fell asleep during the preaching and fell down from the third floor and ‘was taken up dead’ (Acts 20:9-11). The Apostle brought him back to life and continued preaching till daybreak and then sailed for Assos.
Many believe that the era of works ended with the time of the Apostles but do not have an answer for all these promises of the Scripture. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the empowering agent of God for all believers but He acts only with the Word of God. In Genesis 1 every act of creation was the result of a specific command from God and the Spirit of God executed that command. In like manner, the qualifying cause of fulfillment of prayer is not about tears or any other emotion during prayer but the motive thereof.
Command of God to Adam and Eve to ‘dominate and subdue the earth’ was based on their God given capability to do this (Genesis 1:28). Apostle James clarifies this further, ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain’ (James 5:17-18). The reason that Apostles Peter, James and John were taken by the Lord on specific occasions for miraculous works was to train, build up their faith and reveal His Godly status to them. While James suffered beheading the other two reached out with the Gospel message with miraculous deeds.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, filled with faith in the LORD God could say to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O King. But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your gods’ (Daniel 3:16-26). And the Son of God created a safe bubble in the fire to be with them and save them from any damage from fire. Faith can and will save, but Stephen, the first martyr of the Church loudly proclaimed the sinful deeds of the Jewish leaders in falsely persecuting the Son of God and accepted death by stoning while seeking forgiveness from God for forgiveness for the same people who stoned him (Acts 7:59-60).
An angel of the Lord led Apostle Peter out of the prison in answer to the earnest prayers of the believers (Acts 12:7-10). Apostle Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and put in prison but at midnight when they ‘were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them’, suddenly there was a great earthquake and they were set free from their chains (Acts 16:23-28). They did not leave and as they had preached to the prisoners, they preached to the jailor and his family was saved. Do I panic when my prayer is not answered and the expected relief does not come or do I praise God for His wisdom and mercy and remain thankful?
The woman with the flow of blood for 12 years was ceremonially unclean and could face punishment for touching others (Matthew 9:20-22). Yet she moved fearlessly in faith that ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well’. The Greek word used for wellness is ‘sozo’ meaning ‘deliver out of danger into safety’ used principally for God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin and into His provisions. She expected healing of the body and Lord Jesus sought her out in the crowd to fulfill much more than her expectation. Faith can and does change a situation, provided we are willing to test it and our God with that. He is faithful and will never let you down.
How to avoid fear and receive the impossible? The teaching is, ‘If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small’ and our strength is faith in the name and authority of the Lord (Proverbs 24:10). In a difficult or impossible situation Mary the mother of our Lord has shown us the way. Participating in the marriage in Cana, the groom’s family was faced with a situation that would cause great loss of face, the wine was finished (John 2:3-5). Mary’s prayer to her Son received a reply from Him, ‘My hour has not yet come’. Instead of accepting the situation, she said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it’ and the problem was resolved by the Lord. Apostle Paul advises us to believe with the heart and confess and declare with the mouth to claim freedom and that ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’ (Romans 10:10-11) and water was turned into the best wine for joy of the family. The servants obeyed the Lord to fill up those water pots and the house received the blessing.
First, obedience as Moses warned the Israelites to ‘diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe all His commandments….that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). As a result of obedience ‘your enemies will be defeated’; abundant prosperity and the LORD will make you the head and not the tail.
Second, intercession and outreach with the message of the Gospel –The disciples reached out to others with the Gospel message and ‘the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs’ (Mark 16:20). We are ambassadors for the Lord and God works through us to bless others (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Third, Seek His intervention – King Hezekiah ‘trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah (2 Kings 18:5). When Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah for surrender, he placed the letter before the LORD in the Temple and prayed, ‘O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone (2 Kings 19:14-35). An angel of the LORD struck the Assyrian army at night and killed 1,85,000 soldiers, forcing them to withdraw.
Four, wait patiently for an answer – Daniel prayed to the LORD God and angel Gabriel came with the message, ‘from the first day that you set your to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard’ (Daniel 10:12-13). The delay of 21 days was caused by the devil who tried to stop the reply. Satan makes all out efforts to lead us astray from our faith and when we remain steadfast in prayer and humble submission, God ensures we receive our blessings.
Five, be thankful – ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19). Rejoicing is supposed to be even in sorrowful and difficult times also, for our joy in the Lord. Prayer being conversing with God, this conversation must never cease for He wants to be involved in every aspect of our life. Thus in prayer, speaking is not necessary, posture, place or time for prayer is not important but one should never be in a place where one is ashamed of speaking to God. We do not give thanks for everything but ‘in everything’ for God is Sovereign and in control of every situation to turn it. This is God’s will and it is not that we must but that we can give thanks for His grace is sufficient for each and every situation and weakness.
Mary has set an example for us to ‘do as He says’. She could, for she heard the testimony of the shepherds about the message of the angels, the prophecies of Simeon and Anna about her Son and she ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19 & 51). God commanded Joshua to live as per the ‘Book of the Law’ in total obedience (Joshua 1:8), ‘For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success’. The same is expected of every believer and then nothing is impossible.
No good father wants to see any of his children failing while facing any adversity. Then how can God the Father, who sacrificed His own Son for us, tolerate any member of His heavenly family to not be successful. God desires to lead us into victory in every situation but this is done with our active cooperation. Out part in this is, determined actions of faith in His power working through and in us.