Many times when trying to determine the outcome of a situation, we look to our past experiences. I find that this is true in many places, but especially in Christian circles, and often in prayer as well. I have been in prayer groups, where we would pray for someone who had a debilitating condition, and we would pray, but then someone would say, “you know, there was a great Christian who had this condition, and they died”… and the moment that was said, it was as if it sucked all of the belief out of the room. People’s thoughts were moved from, “Yes God is a great Healer”, to, “Well if that great Christian died, I guess God doesn’t heal”.
We tend to allow our experiences to determine our future, even without being consciously aware that we are doing it. And we also are influenced by all of the negativity floating around from all of the other people who do the same. So today we will be looking at what God Himself says about your future, about His outlook and forecast for your life… unlike the weather, His forecast is always one-hundred percent reliable and trustworthy.
You may have noticed that in most Christian communities, there is an impressive amount of resistance to anything positive. People love to quote verses such as “in this world you will be tribulation…” (which is actually pressure) The moment they see anyone trying to make a stand against the enemy and resist something negative in their life, these people blurt out with no hesitation, “yeah, but you know, Jesus said you will have tribulation! He never promised you an easy life!”
People gravitate toward the negative – it’s easier to drag someone down than to lift them up. It’s easier to sabotage a person’s faith and belief than it is to encourage and lift it up, again because many people look to their own personal experiences, than to the words of God. Sometimes it seems that for every positive, encouraging word of the Gospel, there is a negative word waiting to try and bring it down. So let’s take a look at some of them, and see how they stack-up against God’s own words in our life.
As mentioned, people love to quote John 16:33, where Jesus says that “…in this world you will have tribulation…” (which again is properly translated as pressure), but they never quote the full verse; the full quote is this:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
This is not a negative verse by Jesus; not at all… but people like to slice it up, take it out of context and use it in a negative way. Jesus says These things I have spoken, that in Me you may have peace. What is the intention of Jesus speaking? That in Him, you would have peace – not discouragement, not fear, not uncertainty, peace. And where do you find this peace? In Him! Jesus says that these things He has spoken, that you would have peace… So what things has He just spoken? Go a little ways up to verses 22 and 23 as we read some of the discourse that He was having with His disciples. We see that He says now you will have sorrow, speaking of His crucifixion about to take place. But you will see Me again, and you will rejoice, and no-one will take away your joy. This is speaking of His resurrection. And the proof of His victory, the divine, receipt that you will know that He has paid in full to redeem you completely. It is not a word of sadness, but an encouraging word of victory and joy which brings divine peace. Then in verse 23:
In that day… what day is that? His resurrection. In that day, you will ask Me nothing. You won’t have to ask Him for anything because you will be In Him, and you will be able to go directly to the Father in the Name of Christ, and Jesus says that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Take a moment and meditate on that truth because it absolutely shatters what we typically think. This verse destroys our typical view of God and the way He answers our requests. However the Biblical truth is that all things will are yours already in Christ Jesus; this is precisely what is referred to in Romans 8:32.
Look at verse 24 as Jesus solidifies this fact even further: Till now have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. Why do we find it so difficult to take Jesus at His word? Again it is because we tend to allow our past experiences to determine our future reality, instead of the Word of God (which is Jesus). We let all of the naysayers sabotage and overthrow our faith.
Jesus says here plainly, ask and you shall receive. That is plain and simple. There are no added requirements there… there are not any prerequisites there other than asking in His Name… understanding that you are in Christ and your place of authority in Him. Drop down to verses 26 and 27:
“At that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you:
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
A lot of believers still see the Father as the mean one, and Jesus as the nice one that has to intercede for us and protect us from the mean Father. They think that Jesus has to keep pleading and begging the Father to do someone on our behalf. Many Christians believe like that… but look at what Jesus is saying here. You will ask in My name: and I will not say that I will ask the Father for you. Why not? For (Because) the Father Himself loves you. Jesus is not protecting you from the Father; the Father Himself loves you. The Father is the one who sacrificed His beloved Son Jesus for you.
Now remember. All of the things we have been reading; everything that Jesus has been saying is within the context of verse 33. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. Jesus is not declaring hardship… He is declaring victory through His finished work. He is declaring power over the enemy and peace. In the rest of verse 33 He says: in this world you will have tribulation, you will have pressure from the world but be of good cheer; why? I have overcome the world. Do you see? Jesus is not preparing us for enemies which we cannot handle. He is not priming us for us to lay down and allow the enemy to run over us like roadkill. Not at all… He is saying that you will have pressure, but through Me, you have victory over the enemy. It is not a statement of defeat, but of massive victory!
Another statement that people tend to make in connection with this verse, is that “You know, Jesus never promised us an easy life!”. Again, people say these things typically in an attempt to overthrow faith and drag the precious few down that are trying to actually stand in the faith of Christ.
So is that statement true that God has not promised us an easy life? To answer that, let’s take a look at Deuteronomy 11:18-21:
“Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign on your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
And you shall teach them your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
And you shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates:
That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven on the earth.”
God says, that if you lay up His words in your heart and your soul which in Hebrew is a double-emphasis… if you keep them in the front of your eyes (so that you always look to them) and bind them on your hand (so that all you undertake is supported by them), you write them on the doorposts of your house (so that as you go out or come in, they are with you), and teach them to your children your days will be as the days of heaven on earth.
That sounds like a good life to me. Days of heaven on the earth.
Now when this was written to the people of that day.. they were under the Law – the covenant of Moses. And he did want them to keep His commands. Likewise, we have one commandment from the Lord in our covenant today. Believe. Believe on the finished work of Christ. Out of that everything else will flow. Even so, look at what God emphasizes here in our text. Verses 2-7 list all of the great miracles which the LORD did for the children of Israel… This is really what “the chastisement of the LORD” is. People think that chastisement is terrible punishment resulting in suffering. But chastisement is really “child training, instruction” and if you notice in verse 2, this is not instruction about the LORD, or instruction about the law even… but it says it is “instruction of the LORD your God” which it then proceeds to define for us as: his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, and his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land.
It is instructing them and reminding them that He is a personal, miracle-working God that keeps and protects them. This is the knowledge, this is the instruction that God wants the people to have. And then He says in verse 8, It’s because you remember all of My goodness, that you will keep my commands that you may be strong. You see, it is the remembrance of God’s goodness, that keeps you strong.
Why then, is there so little preaching and teaching on the goodness of God? Much of it today is focused on man’s efforts, man’s striving, man’s works… we are trying to earn what God only gives as a free gift in Christ Jesus.
Then people say that God doesn’t heal, He doesn’t provide, He doesn’t protects; and people use their personal experiences to define God rather than His own word. The truth though is that for many of us, we haven’t been asking in Jesus; Name, we have actually been asking in our own name and forging Jesus’ signature. What I mean by that, is that we have been trying to stand in our own merit, asking for things based on our performance, and then still tacking-on “…in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers. There is a lot of works-based theology in Christianity today, but none of it lines up with scripture.
The reality is that, whatever you ask in the Name of Jesus, standing in His righteousness, standing in His authority, it will be given. When we fully accept that and realize that it is based entirely on Him and not us, and remind ourselves of His finished work and stand against the naysayers, we will experience multiplied days of heaven on earth just as God has promised.
Does that sound too good to be true? God said it from His own mouth – it is just as much the inspired scripture as every other part of the Bible. Now you have a choice to make: let your past experiences determine your future, or let God’s word (Jesus) determine your future. The choice is yours – all good is available to you, in Jesus Christ. I encourage you to rest and receive what Jesus paid for you to have. Every promise, every benefit, every blessing.