Deals and No Deals With Our Father

soldier

Have you ever been in a bad situation when it looked like there was no way out,  so you tried to strike a bargain with God? It is safe to say that most Christians have, or at least have thought about it. I certainly have. Despite what many people might think, the Bible doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t or can’t attempt to make a deal with God. Even Abraham made a deal with God. For that matter, God has also made deals with Satan. Before thinking that Brother Rex has lost it all, let me explain.

Do you remember the story of Job? Job was a God-fearing man who loved the father. He had a good and comfortable life. However, Satan made the claim that the only reason he loved God was because of the things God had blessed him with. He said that if all those things were taken away, Job would turn away from the Father. God made a deal. Satan was allowed to make things hard for Job in any way, but God made the deal that Job couldn’t die through any action Satan took. Naturally Satan was proved to be wrong. Even with everything taken from him, Job still praised God and still both loved him and followed him. The point is that God made a deal. Making deals isn’t wrong, because nothing God does is wrong.

All this said, should we try to make deals with God? Well, that depends entirely on the deal and the circumstances.

You may have heard of soldiers who prayed, “Father, if you get me out of this, I promise never to swear, to read the bible every day and to go to church every Sunday, without fail.” Such a deal wouldn’t be testing God, because we know that he can and often does deliver us from the darkest circumstances. However, if you really look at the deal, you will probably see how unwise such a bargain would be.

First of all, the deal is self-centered and selfish. The focus of the deal would be on the person, not on God. Second, it is impossible to keep the deal. The soldier in this illustration is elevating himself to the position of God by saying that he will never swear, will read the bible every day and will go to church every Sunday. He doesn’t know what might happen in the future and since he took God out of the equation, he virtually dooms himself to failure. Third, he is trying to make a deal that would benefit him and in return, he’d do what he should be doing anyway.

What the soldier should do is quite a bit simpler and it is a provision our loving Father put into place. It is part of the reason he allowed his son to be killed to begin with. That is, we all have a direct line of communication to God, by praying in the name of Jesus. Instead of trying to strike a bargain, the soldier should simply say something like, “Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that you will get me out of this mess.”

While the bible doesn’t say that we can’t make deals with God, quite often when we find ourselves in bad situations, we try to make deals that are doomed to failure, when we never had to make a deal at all. God loves us! He does things for us all the time, even when we don’t know about it. If you are in a dire position, pray for help, in the name of the Lord. In fact, Jesus instructs us to do exactly this.

John 14:13

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

I’m not saying that there will never be circumstances when it would be wise to make a deal. However, consider it carefully first. If you aren’t selfish, ask for it in the name of Jesus. God will hear the plea and he loves to help us. By doing this, you are putting the focus where it belongs; on Jesus and our heavenly Father. Isn’t it wonderful to have a Father who loves us so much?

Have you ever tried to make a deal with God that you couldn’t keep? As I’ve said, I have. I later needed deep prayer to ask for forgiveness. The failure was mine, not the Lord’s.


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Plant the Seed and God Will Make it Grow

making seeds grow

Every year, I put in a garden. I also make my own compost, because I know that it helps the fruits and vegetables to thrive by feeding them the right amount of nourishment at the right time. It lets the plants grow strong and healthy.

About a decade ago, I put in a garden and was pleased by how it was growing. Only a few plants were struggling and among those were my pumpkins. That didn’t surprise me because I lived in an area that wasn’t known for growing healthy pumpkins. I replanted the pumpkins three times, but they kept dying. In a last effort, I planted the fourth time, totally forgetting about the large compost pile I had. It shouldn’t have slipped my mind since I had to walk by the compost heap on the way to the garden. Still, it was in a very shady spot, on poor soil that had a lot of rocks in it. That ground grew plenty of weeds, but little else. That was why I put the compost pile there, since I didn’t thing the spot was good for growing anything worthwhile.

Gardeners will understand that to keep compost active, it must be kept damp. One day when I was fretting about how the last pumpkins I planted were again looking weak. While I pondered the problem, I was watering the compost pile. That’s when I saw it; a single pumpkin plant growing at the edge of the compost pile. Apparently a seed had fallen out of my pocket and was covered with the overflow of the compost. That plant wasn’t like those that kept dying, though. It was strong and very healthy, despite growing without enough sunshine and on top of rocky soil.

I didn’t expect it to grow, but kept giving it water every time I sprinkled the compost pile. It grew enormous and soon there were vines and leaves that covered an area of about 12 square feet, choking out the weeds. Only then did it occur to me that I hadn’t used any of the nutrient-rich compost on the pumpkins I’d been attempting to grow on purpose. I used some of the compost around the struggling pumpkin plants and got almost immediate results.

Of the accidental pumpkin plant, the harvest that year was astonishing. That vine grew a 98 pound, a 69 pound and two 48 pound pumpkins, despite being in about the worst spot for pumpkins that I could have come up with even if I’d planned it.

That is just the way it is with the word of God. When we plant the seed of God’s wonderful message, using our words and actions, too often we forget that our subsequent words and actions can either nourish the seed or cause it to struggle. If we proclaim the glory of God and the joy of His message, and then act in ways that are not in following with the teachings of Jesus, the seed we planted can even die.

By the grace of God, though, if we do honestly follow Jesus, sometimes a seed is planted accidentally in the most unlikely spot for it to ever bear fruit. Yet, God knows precisely how and when to nourish the seed. If we keep our actions and words in a way that continues to show the glory and joy of our heavenly Father, we are continuing to water the seed and give it a chance to grow. Even when it is on infertile soil and in a place that doesn’t get enough light, it can grow healthy and strong, at first ignoring the weeds then smothering them.

The result often exceeds expectations many fold. It is humbling, too, because we should remember that all we did was to plant the seed and continued to water it, but God is the master gardener who makes it grow. Sometimes we don’t even know that we are planting the seed, either. We need to remember to keep our words and actions in accordance with God’s will and in keeping with the example set by Jesus. We need to do this even when we don’t think that anyone else is around.

Remember that God is always around and he is always listening to our words and watching our actions. Use your words and actions to praise God regardless of who else is around. He does notice. He does make the seeds grow.


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How Will They Know You Are a Christian?

brotherly love

It seems that in this world, a large number of people are only interested in what material things they can amass. For these people, it is all about themselves, not about others. Sadly, this also includes a number of people who profess to be Christians. Are they really Christians, though? How will people know that you are a Christian?

True Christians follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them in their lives. This may seem so basic that it is almost funny, but it actually answers both questions. Jesus teaches that we are to love one another and he showed it with his actions. Jesus never missed an opportunity to display the love of the Father. The bible puts it very plainly:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NIV)

This is rather explicit. If we aren’t showing love every minute of every day, even when no person is watching, we aren’t being Christian. No person may be watching, but God always is.  Indeed, that is the answer to the title question. People will know that you are a Christian by your love. If a person can’t see the love in you, it means that more work needs to be done, because you have a heart condition. If you let Jesus live within your heart and continually pray that the Spirit will fill you with love, the love becomes manifest in everything you say and do. This isn’t easy to do in all circumstances, which is the reason for the prayers to fill your heart with love.

At times, there will be a battle raging within you. It is easy to get angry, but that is because all people have a carnal nature and desires that have nothing to do with God. The Spirit is all about God, so the two can be opposites, and often are. A true Christian tries sincerely to do what God wants, not what the person wants.

I know of a person who is an emotional vampire. They obviously enjoy dwelling on the most negative aspects of other people and businesses. I honestly don’t believe that they know that they are doing it most of the time. They are convinced that most other people agree with them, even though they do not. They get very defensive when their stance is questioned, even off-hand. Thus, they show in their words and actions that they believe that everything is about them. Humility is the last thing in the world that they display.

I don’t want to love this person, frankly. I get worked up and stressed out by their words. Yet the Holy Spirit tells me that I must love them. Allowing God in my heart means that I have no choice, because God is love. What I want makes no difference. It is what God wants that is the only thing that is important. So I do my best to approach the person with love and kindness, even when the person doesn’t want to accept it. If the person tries to bait me into an argument, most often I don’t even reply. The more wicked they act, the more loving I must act. Even if that person doesn’t see the wrong they are doing, others do and others can also see the love and kindness that is extended. As a Christian, my role is to plant the seed. It is up to God to make it grow. In fact, since this is so and since no man knows the plans of God, it is quite possible that God is using this person to get through to others; how to love by example.

Again, it isn’t always easy. At times, every one of us feels any number of things other than love. If we realize this, though, we open the door for God to take control and to demonstrate his love in action. God is very willing to resolve the problems we might have with others, but it is up to us to open that door for Him. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill be with love and that God will bless my actions that I might bring glory to Him. I know that I won’t always be successful, but recognizing my failures brings me more in line with God’s will. It is a step on the path toward righteousness.

How will they know you are a Christian? By your love. Can you show your love more strongly than you do? That is a question each of us must answer honestly, with the guidance of God.


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