<strong>Restraining God</strong>
It pleases God to reach out and fill the hands raised towards Him in earnest prayer and expectation, where hearts are overflowing with gratitude for what is already received.

Restraining God

      God has promised to be with us and not forsake us in any situation that we may face in our lives. But we also must remember this to avoid following the ways of the devil instead of God. In this manner, by turning to evil, we step out of the protection and empowerment of God. Is it possible that by our works we can stop God from showering His blessings upon us and our family members?

            How can predestined events get changed? No one can stop God from doing what He desires to do for us, but we can definitely miss the destination where He wants to lead us. At no stage did God force anyone to do anything against his own will. Lucifer was the covering Cherub created to lead in worship of God in heaven but he decided in his pride, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:13-15). God had created him as one of the three important angels with Gabriel to proclaim God’s Word to others and Michael to lead in prayers. Blinded by his own beauty and wisdom, Lucifer decided to rebel against God by seeking his own worship and tried to steal what was rightfully due only to God. As a result, he was cast down to the earth and will finally ‘be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit’. Thus he, by his evil desires stopped God and lost out on all the blessings that were coming his way.

            David was the youngest son of Jesse and was left to tend to the sheep, not considered worthy to be called to meet Prophet Samuel but God chose David only as king and he was anointed (1 Samuel 16:11-12). When he found the entire army of Israel hiding in fear of Goliath, the giant, he volunteered to fight the giant (1 Samuel 17:33-36). But King Saul tried to stop him by saying, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from youth’. In our journey of life, even when we feel capable of successfully handling a situation, we meet many people who tend to discourage and stop us. David, the man of God’s heart, answered Saul, ‘Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God’. David did not plan to face the giant in his own strength but could confidently say, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine’. Goliath ‘cursed David by his gods’ but David ignored that and fulfilled God’s plan for him.

           The command from God to Moses was to send out twelve men to explore the land ‘which I am giving to the children of Israel’ (Numbers 13:2). The decision to give the land was already made by God and they were to go bring the fruit of the land to encourage everyone. But only Joshua and Caleb believed God’s promise while the other ten created fear in the minds of all 20 to 30 lakh Israelites, of the giants who inhabited the land. As a result, out of all the adult population of Israel, except Joshua and Caleb, men above 20 years of age, perished in the wilderness. God revealed the Mission of Moses from the Burning Bush, ‘I have come down to deliver them (My people, the Israelites) out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them from that land to a good and large land flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8). Through their unbelief, the provision was missed out by a large number of Israelites and others could receive the blessing forty years later only.

           The psalmist declared, ‘O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You’ (Psalm 84:12). God desires to bless each and every human being and does not want even a wicked person to perish but to ‘turn from his ways and live’ (Ezekiel 18:23). For any of us to receive any blessing from anyone, we must first believe that the individual is able and secondly willing. In like manner we must have faith in God to please Him and ‘believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6). God has blessed the whole of mankind with salvation and eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ but many stop God from giving them this by refusing to believe and receive.

              What actions stop God to bless us? Asaph described the past history of Israel, ‘How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God and limited the Holy One of Israel’ (Psalm 78:40-41). Moses came down from the mountain after forty days with the Ten Commandments on stone tablets but found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf that they had made with Aaron. The LORD God was so angry at this that He wanted to destroy them and ‘make of you (Moses) a great nation’ (Exodus 32:10).  Many in the Scripture have restricted their Creator and confined Him by their perspectives, lack of trust, sin or from just by their fallen human nature. We release God into our lives by holding Him in a bow and releasing the arrow only on Sundays or some special days.

         We restrain God in various ways from acting in our lives – First, lack of trust, while faith is ‘evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). We want God to act in a certain way in answer to our prayers and when that is not evident, we start out with our own strength and ways to move our mountains keeping God out of our plans. David and his men returned to Ziklag and found the whole place burnt down and their wives, children and all that they had, taken by the Amalekites. ‘David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him’ but he still sought the LORD for the next course of action (1 Samuel 30:1-8). When assured by God’s word, he went after the Amalekites, attacked and destroyed them and recovered all that they had lost and much more.  

          Second, fear – Adam and Eve hid from God instead of turning to Him after their sin and lost their chance of forgiveness. We also fear lest God ask us to do something that we do not want to do or cannot do. This can be about our money, time, possessions or even some sinful behavior.

         Third, personal effort instead of God dependence – Relying on our own talents and resources, we limit God, for we were created to be God dependent. We are ineffective and incomplete without God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in every believer is for that completion only. We are taught to ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5). Depending on our own strength is to be vulnerable to forces of darkness who will stop us from achieving great things in our life and thus fulfilling our destiny. When our lives are centred on God, we can ever afford to leave circumstances to the compulsion of the One in Whom we trust. The occasional is always affected by the habitual.

          Four, focusing on the senses for when we are distressed, we start feeling God has deserted us. Asaph cried out to God, when the sufferings of Israelites were continuing, ‘God, why have You cast us off forever?’ (Psalm 74:1). We tend to forget that the same God has promised to never leave nor forsake us. By focusing on our feelings, we restrain God to fill us with His joy by working out the solution for our situation.

         Five, our sinful actions stop God and remove us from His mighty presence and protection. Our free will is the license to do what we want but when it is in opposition to God, He steps back and lets us live the way we want, outside His Garden. God is merciful and ready to forgive, but only once we turn to seek Him (1 John 1:9). Our sin blinds us and stops us from hearing God’s Word and leads us away from Him.

          Six, by lack of expectation – Not expecting an answer to prayer is lack of faith and doubting God. Under such circumstances, God is not bound by any of His promises. Lord Jesus has emphasized this, ‘whatever things you ask, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’ (Mark 11:24). God searches the heart and tests the mind of everyone ‘to give every man according to his ways’ (Jeremiah 17:10). When someone does not expect an answer, he is tossing his prayers in the air like the seed of the sower that fell by the wayside and yields no crop (Mark 4:15). Disobedience of His Word limits His actions in our life. The people of Nazareth looked at the Son of God as the local carpenter only. Their inability to expect any big things from Him restrained Him and ‘He could do no mighty work there’ (Mark 6:5-6).    

          Seven, pride and wrong partners – Lord Jesus has blessed us with the Holy Spirit as our Helper but only the humble reap the reward. The devil was perfect in everything but then his ‘heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor’ (Ezekiel 28:17). His pride caused him his place in heaven. When blinded thus with pride, God allows us to partner with people who lead us along the path of destruction and evil. God steps back and permits us to do our will instead of His will for our lives. God is ever ready and willing to answer our call but only when we turn to Him and let Him, for He is God and does not go even to His children without being called (Jeremiah 33:3).

         Filled with pride or low self-esteem we self-assess ourselves as either too good or absolutely worthless. God created a perfect human being and tasked him to take charge over everything on earth and ‘subdue it’. Without first properly equipping us, He would not put us in such a situation and does always provide a way out also. We ignore our God given gifts and stop Him from helping us to use these, which are like a bank cheque presented in His name alone.

             Essential actions to remain in God’s blessings – Joshua fought with the Amalekites at Rephidim while Moses took Aaron and Hur to pray to God to seek Divine help for the battle (Exodus 17:11). It was so that ‘when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed’. God knows everything in all of creation and nothing is hidden from Him (Hebrews 4:13). It is better that we bring to Him every small or big thing of our life through prayer and faith, rather than being forced by the devil or the circumstances to do so.

         God cares for everyone, for He has ‘inscribed you on the palms’ of His hands while keeping watch over our walls, thus stopping any undue interference from the enemy and helping in increasing our area or boundaries (Isaiah 49:16). But we must trust Him and surrender to His will.   Abraham called God Yehowah Yireh and God provides for all our needs, though it may not be what we want but what is best for us. Instead of asking all and sundry things, it is better to seek God to meet all our needs, for He will provide ‘according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19).

          Therefore, we must admit we need help and that too from God. This could be during sickness, financial crisis, attacks by the enemy which could be verbal, spiritual or physical; when facing threat to life or even while undertaking any new responsibility.

         All those who receive and believe in the Son of God as the Messiah are blessed to be children of God (John 1:12). Any relationship is always a two way process, for both parties must accept to continue to be together. God’s promise is very clear, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ but if we leave His hand and turn away in sin, we will miss out on His blessings.

         There are some things in life that are decreed by God which will definitely happen but there are other things that raise us up to a higher level and may be missed out. Adam and Eve decided to eat the one fruit and missed out on everything in the Garden of Eden and were removed from there. Lord Jesus willingly answers prayers that glorify God, the Father, in some way. Check your motive for asking anything from God to ensure His name is exalted on the earth.

        When God is the center point of our lives, we need not look at the circumstances for our trust in Him will ensure a solution. We must be habitual in seeking God and not an occasional one for then He becomes our true hiding place that reveals His bounties every day.

         God has Sovereign control over everything on and under the earth but He has entrusted all this to mankind to care for it. Though all things on earth are for us and our benefit, how do we perceive this as our right or as God’s gift? It is the attitude of submission that binds us in a Father child relationship with God. It is only ten that we develop a sense of gratitude to Him and then God also extends His hand of blessings towards us! 

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