God wants to meet your needs

           It seems these days that people have more problems facing them than ever before.  Ask anyone who has just gone through a divorce, has been out of work for a year, or cannot get coverage for their medical bills, and they will tell you that life seems to be getting harder all the time. If it’s not one thing it’s another. The day after your wife leaves you your car breaks down and you find out that you’re not going to get that promotion that you were expecting after all. Or your brother calls to tell you that one of your parents has died unexpectedly. Or you just received your grades for the semester and discover that you probably won’t be graduating from college with the degree you wanted. These problems may not seem like much to an outsider looking in, but to the person on the inside they represent the end of a dream; the final destruction of the plans they had made to improve their quality of life and begin to achieve some semblance of happiness.  These unexpected calamities can be more than just an inconvenience: they shake our faith in God and make us doubt that there is any hope that our lives will have any meaning in the long run.

            Perhaps you are the kind of person who prays when you are confronted by problems like these. Perhaps you pray a lot. But most of the time it seems like God isn’t listening. You may be the kind of person that talks to God every night before you go to bed, but in the morning the next day the bills are still not paid, the insurance claim is still not approved, and your kids refuse to talk to you again. Is this because God doesn’t care about you? Or is this because you’re not praying the right way? I believe that there’s another reason.  It’s not because God “hates” you, or because you don’t pray long enough or hard enough. Of course one can never know all the reasons God allows things to happen, but I think, perhaps, He sometimes won’t give us what we want because we are too busy trying to get Him to listen to us. He wants us to listen to Him.

            Don’t get me wrong, I believe that God really wants to fulfill our needs. The trouble, however, is that often we don’t know what our needs really are.  We may think that the divorce we are going through, or the terminal illness we’ve contracted are the worst problems facing us.  But according to the Bible that’s wrong.  The Bible says time and again that the worst problem that all humans have is the problem of sin. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 2:1 says the same thing in a much more gripping way:

                        “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

 The Bible clearly states here that you are a hypocrite. You are able to tell right from wrong, you know when people are sinning against you, yet still you do the same things to other people that you accuse them of doing to you. You and I are both selfish, greedy, sensual, hate-filled people who, as a common phrase says would “sell our own mothers for a crust of bread.” There is no one who does not fit this description. It is true that the degree of our sins may vary, but the fact that we’re sinners applies to all people.  Yes, we may be able to love as well; yes, we know how to do good things along with the bad, but none of this erases the crimes we’ve committed.  The fact that we do “good deeds” at times only helps to condemn us, because it proves that we can tell right from wrong. The Bible says there is only one place for sinners to go, and that is hell. Revelations 21:8 has a list of the kind of people who will be placed into hell for all eternity. Read through this quotation slowly and see if you’re on the list.

                         “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

 Everyone falls into at least one of these categories. You might claim (mistakenly) that you’re not sexually immoral if you’ve never committed actual adultery, or (mistakenly) that you’re not a murderer if you’ve never physically killed someone, but can you honestly say even for a moment that you have never lied?  Don’t try to rationalize your sins. This will only make you more miserable in the end. There is a reason why I am forcing this issue.  It is so I can give you the hope that is available to those who admit they are sinners. I want to tell you about heaven, how “happy” you can be there, and how much God loves you. In short, I want you to get “saved.” But this cannot happen until you know exactly what God wants to save you from.  God wants to save you from the bondage of sin and from the terror of its eternal consequences after death. He also wants to save you so you can begin to display His goodness, grace, and love to your friends and family members in this life. But none of this can happen until you own up to the fact that you are a horribly wicked person who behaves with rebellion towards your Creator and selfishness towards your fellow man.

            The way out of this trap is through faith. In order to “get saved” you have to believe in the God of the Bible who created you and loves you.  You have to believe that He sent His son Jesus (who is fully God) down to the Earth to die on the cross for your sins. You must believe that there is no way for you to become righteous apart from the sacrifice of Christ. It is not enough to believe that Jesus died to “help” you escape from judgment in hell: He did all of the work Himself (see Ephesians 2:8-9* for evidence of this). You are merely the helpless yet grateful recipient of his incredible love and mercy. Furthermore, you must believe that after being executed for your transgressions, Christ proved his victory over the power of sin by being resurrected and ascending back to heaven, where He came from.  The Bible says in Romans 10:9

                            “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart that one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

            True salvation also requires you to regret the sins you have done. Genuine faith will be accompanied by genuine repentance.  You cannot “accept” Christ without being sorry for your rebelliousness, selfishness, and hate. You must recognize your crimes as being more than innocent “mistakes:” they are deliberate, malicious acts against God and your fellow human beings. In order to truly repent you have to decide to turn away from doing these things and make serving God the primary focus of your life instead.  The Bible gives a good description of what this kind of repentance looks like in II Corinthians 2:10-11.

                        “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what      fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

            Finally, If you make the decision to do this, if you truly get saved, the following things will happen as a result. First, you will believe and understand that you are no longer facing eternity in hell as judgment for your sins.  Your name will have been written in God’s “book of life” which is mentioned several times in the Bible.  You will therefore become one of God’s saints or “holy ones” destined to dwell with God forever in eternity future after death.  After you die God will give you a glorified body (I Corinthians 15:51-53) and you will be completely holy, unable to sin. The moment you become saved, while still alive, the Holy Spirit will indwell you, giving you a power and desire to do good to those around you, and preach the gospel to them, hoping and praying for their salvation as well. You will become aware of other “saints” around you who are your true family that you will spend eternity with in heaven.  Together you and they will reinforce each other’s faith and help another to live your lives in a holy manner.  Despite this, however, your sin nature will not immediately disappear. You will still break God’s law at times, but your sense of guilt will be greater than before.  But now, unlike previously, you will have the ability to break free of many of your sins because you know that a reward is waiting for you in heaven, and that the Spirit of God is indwelling you with power that you have never had before.

            This may seem like a lot to take in. It is. The message of the gospel is so simple and easy to understand that many young children have gotten saved.  And yet the implications of this simple choice are so far-ranging and incredible that one can never fully grasp the glory of salvation although they may spend an entire lifetime studying it.  It is truly “awesome” in the purest sense of the word.  God loves you, and He wants you to experience this wonderful change for yourself.

            But now it’s up to you.  You have to make a choice. Do you want to spend the rest of your life struggling to do good while at the same time living for yourself, or do you want to surrender your entire life to God?  Becoming a Christian isn’t easy. Not only will people mock you, but you will have to give up many of the sins and unprofitable habits that form a familiar part of your everyday life.  And addition, God Himself might very well bring new hardship into your life in order to grow your faith and build your dependence on Him.  Being saved isn’t worth it because your life will become easier as a result; It’s worth it because you will be released from your burden of sin through the knowledge that Christ died on the cross for you and is waiting to spend eternity with you in heaven.

            I have one final point to make before I close.  Many Christians will tell you that if you “serve God” He will bless you with all the things you want in this life: a good marriage, a stable job, and/or good health.  But this will not always be the case.  God will not give you your wants: He’ll give you your needs.  I cannot promise you that He will give you more money, but I can promise you that He will empower you to be more generous with the money you have. Likewise, He may not “fix” your selfish spouse, but He will help you love your spouse in a way you could not love them before.  Finally, He may not cure you of the illness you have, but He will allow you to display patience through your suffering so that some of your friends and family members may also get saved from your example and spend eternity with you in a place where there is no pain. 

Here are some final Bible verses about salvation:

*Ephesians 2:8-10

            “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Hebrews 2:3-4

            “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

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