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Faith Toward God (24)

In our last broadcast, in learning from the lesson of the man of God into whose heart doubt was introduced by an old prophetsomeone who once spoke for God, but who had become an instrument in the hands of the devilwe noted the following:
1. When God asks you to do something, first be convinced about it, and keep on recounting or reciting it to yourself, so that whenever a contradicting statement or event rears its head, you will be sure to hold on to Gods word.
2. Because no one is greater than God, what God says should hold sway; not even what a spiritual juggernaut says should be considered over the word of God!
3. If someone you respect tells you something that is contrary to what God had told you, and backs it up with, God told me to tell you, make sure that you go back to God to verify that He indeed sent that individual to you.

In 1 Samuel 23:1-5, we read the account of Davids inquiry to God concerning the inhabitants of Keilah, a town in Israel, which was being pillaged by the Philistines, the enemy of Israel1 Samuel 23:1-5: Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors. Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. In this story, we see that after David had inquired of the Lord, and had received an affirmative answer to go and deliver Keilah from the hands of the Philistine marauders, the men who would follow him to prosecute the battle against the Philistines, were not forthcoming. In fact, they told David point-blank that they were afraid where they were, which was a place of safety, how much more entering into a war zone. This was enough to introduce doubt in the heart of David, but David did not permit doubt to enter in; rather, he sought another audience with God in prayer, and he got an affirmation and confirmation from God to go and do as He had been told earlier. In the end, what God had told David the first time was correct and not the figment of his imagination or his own selfish desire for personal aggrandisement; for, David and his fearful men overran the Philistines, and Keilah was saved by the word of the Lord!

In our daily walk with God, we encounter similar situations where we are faced with the challenge of carrying people along when we have to do Gods word: for example, a pastor may have been told by God to do something which may not make sense or which may seem crazy, in the mind of the people he will work with to accomplish the divine task; a husband may have been told by God to relocate his household from a place of relative safety to a war zone, and his wife is not buying into it; an individual may have been told by God to pick up a job in an environment outside his comfort zone; and so on. In all these examples, and many more similar cases, we are confronted with decision-making which involves carrying other people along or which no one is willing to go along with us. In such instances, we can learn from Davids approach to dealing with the subject of doubt. Rather than second-guessing himself, he simply went back to God in prayer to affirm what God had told him earlier. You see, when God asks you to do something, it usually does not make sense to any other person but you, and even then, only in so far as there is no oppositiononce opposition sets in, in one form or another, doubt also begins to creep into your heart. But before that can happen, we must be quick to return to God in prayer. Please do not try to reason with the people who are opposed to what God is telling you, because, their arguments may actually be very reasonable to the human mind. But as we have stated in the course of our study on Faith toward God, the subject of faith does not lend itself to reason! Faith is essentially about what God says; not what makes sense! Therefore, when you are faced with a situation in which it appears that what God has told you is not popular (and this is mostly the case), do not capitulate to popular opinion; rather, go back to God in prayer on the matter. Once you have Gods confirmation, do not look back, but go on ahead and implement Gods word. Now, when it comes to how to carry along those opposed to you doing the will of God, also talk to God about it, and He will give you a word which will turn them to go along with you. But even if they do not go along with you, do not lose heart, just go ahead and implement Gods word and He (God) will show Himself strong on your behalf.

A major issue with people who succumb to doubt in their heart is that they are themselves not convinced about what God is asking them to do. Sometimes, this lack of conviction derives from their own desire which is contrary to the desire of God. And when this is the case, it is very unlikely that such individuals will be willing to hear from God a second timethey just capitulate to popular opinion and their own desire. In Numbers Chapter 22, the story of Balaam, a prophet, is told: when the children of Israel arrived at the plains of Moab, Balak, the king of Moab, having heard of what Israel had done to the headstrong Amorites, was afraid, and sent for Balaam, a prophet whose reputation was that those he blessed were blessed, and those he cursed, were cursed. When Balaks elderly messengers arrived at Balaams home with the wages of reward in their hands, and Balaks message to Balaam to come and curse Israel, God told Balaam not to go and curse Israel, because He had already blessed them. So, Balaam told Balaks officials that he did not have Gods permission to go with them, and that they should return to Balak with that message. When Balak heard this, he thought to himself that perhaps, he sent elderly men who did not have the power of persuasion, and possibly, the reward he had promised was not incentive enough, so he sent princes, who were more honourable, and he also raised the reward to Balaam to include a position of honour, as well as whatever else Balaam would want Balak to do for him. This latest approach of Balaks was too tempting for Balaam to resist, and instead of Balaam to turn them back, he went to God, hoping that God would change His mind, so that he could receive the reward. If there was any doubt or confusion in Balaams mind, it was not from what God told him the first time; it was from seeing the enticing reward of Balak slipping away from him; so, he went back to God to see if God would change His mind about cursing Israel, whom God had already affirmed that He had blessed! The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 2:15, that Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness; and in Jude 1:11, the Bible describes false prophets who subvert the word of God, as running greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. Balaam was a man given to covetousness. So, when Balaam went to God the second time, God told him to go with them. Unknown to Balaam, Gods seeming change of heart, was done because he wouldnt have listened to anything to the contrary. You see, Balaam already had his mind made up to go with the princes of Balak for the reward; all he wanted was Gods rubber stamp, because the Bible makes us understand that when Balaam went and God would not let him curse Israel, after several attempts, he then taught Balak what to do to get Israel to sin against God, so that God Himself would be the One to destroy Israel because of their sin. So, when God told Balaam to go with Balaks princes, God was not changing His mind; rather, God was giving up Balaam to his destructive desire for monetary gain, and the position of honour promised by Balak! Ezekiel 14:1-5: Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. There are many believers in Christ today, who say that they are not sure of what God is saying; and it is not because they are really not sure; rather, it is because they want God to give them an answer based on their heart desirethey have set up idols in their heart, and therefore God can only answer them by the multitude of the idols in their heart. When a young lady has been told by God not to marry a particular young man (who is loaded with tonnes of money), and she keeps going back to God to ask if she should still marry the same young man, she is bound to get the same kind of answer Balaam gotGo ahead and marry him! When a man insists on doing a particular business transaction in spite of Gods word to the contrary, he will only get the answer he had all along wished forGo ahead and do the transaction! And then when things start falling apart, rather than return to God in genuine repentance, they wonder why God is not keeping His own part of the bargain! Brethren, dealing with doubt in your heart, must first be preceded by dealing with lusts, inordinate desires, and the flesh (or the sinful nature in man) in your heart. The Bible says in Galatians 5:16, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. One of the major reasons why so many believers in Christ are torn between opinionsa phrase for doubtis because they are yet to crucify the flesh. The bible did not tell us to pacify or gratify the flesh; but to crucify or mortify itthat is, put the flesh (the sinful nature in you) to death! Brethren, for as long as the fleshyour old sinful naturecontinues to breathe or exert its influence in you, you will constantly be torn between doing the will of God, and doing the desire of the flesh. And the bible tells us that doing the desire of the flesh produces destructive results like, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, promiscuity, idolatry, covetousness, the spirit of competition, manipulation, jealousy, envy, busts of anger or rage so strong, it can kill, engaging in fraudulent activities, giving bribes to secure favours and collecting bribes to look the other way, among others. So, for example, unless a young lady has dealt with the lust for a life of luxury and wealth in her heart, she cannot hear God speak to her about who to marry; and if she does hear from God, she will always be seeking Gods permission to marry the wrong man, quoting, albeit erroneously, God says, He will give me the desire of my heart! The pastor who has not dealt with the desire for fame and gain, will be unable to hear from God when God says to keep a low and humble profile; he will keep on asking, and even question God as to what is wrong with having his photo pasted on a billboard, and will justify it by noting that others are doing it. Brethren, others may be doing some things, but that does not mean that God sanctions those things that they are doing!

Very quickly, let us note the following:
1. When you are confronted with opposition to the word of God, even from people you believe have your interest at heart, like your pastor, your spouse, your family, etc., seek Gods affirmation and confirmation, and stick to Gods word!
2. Once God has spoken on a matter, He will not give a different opinion. God does not change His mind! He may elaborate on what He had said earlier, but He does not go back and forth, like a yo-yo.
3. Deal with the war in your heart caused by the old sinful nature in your heart, by putting it to death, before setting out to seek clarification or confirmation from God on something He had said!
4. In Psalm 138:2, the Bible says of God, thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Therefore the written word of God, as contained in the bible, is Gods clear word to those who believe in Christs atoning work. Any message to the contrary is not from God!

Let us pray!