A man on staff at a megachurch gave what seemed to be an amazing testimony at a Wednesday night service. He told how his teenage son wanted a car, and not just any car, but a Jeep. A new Jeep. And he admitted he wanted it for his son as he would soon graduate high school and need transportation. But they had no money to buy him one, so they prayed and prayed.
He said they kept "praying and believing", and one day as they were walking around a car lot looking at Jeep's and talking to the sales staff, they settled on one but having no money, began to head home. But then miracle of miracles, the salesman told the owner of the dealership, and after hearing the need the owner of the dealership decided to give the young man a brand new Jeep. What a testimony of God's faithfulness if you keep praying he told the congregation. The shouts and applause were deafening at the Wednesday night service.
The truth is that this man was the head of a department for the church, and the owner of that local car dealership was a member of the congregation. The dealership owner also spoke at some of the conferences the church held, which often involved the dad's department, so they knew each other well. So well in fact, he felt no guilt calling the car dealer several times daily for about 2 weeks pressuring him to give a new Jeep to his son...and finally after 2 weeks of brow beating and phone calls the dealer gave it. All that was behind the scenes, only a few of us knew what he was doing...so we were greatly grieved and saddened at the lies he told on that Wednesday night.
The battle for righteousness in his heart was the battle of a proud father wanting the best for his son versus the Lord's right-ness growing (trying to) within him.The ways of righteousness are subtle within the heart and the Lord is a gentleman. Therefore opportunities to make righteous decisions are subtle, almost suggestion-like coming from within, thoughts of the Spirit that float up into our mind, so subtle most people are deaf to His voice.
Paul told the Galatians in 4:19: "My little children, I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."
There is the intercessory prayer we all pray for loved ones to come to Christ, but once they come to the Lord there is ongoing prayer similar to the pregnancy and labor process involved in growing them up in Christ. God won't violate man's free will, but our prayers help the Spirit's efforts* to grow a person from the spirit man inside, outward to their life, by strengthening them from within so they can make righteous decisions. This is done by the Lord allowing us to be put in situations requiring us to make decisions for righteousness or decisions of sticking to our old ways. *Ephesians 1:17-18, 3:14-20, Colossians 1:9
Peter said in I Peter 2:2: "Like new born babies, crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word that by it you may grow up in your salvation."
Growing up in our salvation. The Word He was talking about isn't our chapter and verse that we have in print today, for they had no New Testament in print back then - that was centuries away. The milk of the Word was that of the Living Word, the person of Christ in them and knowing Him - walking with Him as a toddler does a parent, hand in hand, heart in heart, depending on Him to lead and guide and teach them the basics which enable them to grow up in Him.
Here is an example: The chocolate cake on the buffet line opportunity
Barb and I were eating at our town's one and only sit down restaurant, which features a salad bar. It has a good selection of greens, vegetable toppings, and dressings. At the far end of the salad bar is the dessert of the day, which is included when you buy the salad bar. That day the dessert was chocolate cake.
I ordered the special of the day which was smoked meat loaf which came with a trip to the salad bar, I'll translate 'smoked meat loaf' for non-Americans - smoked meats are slow cooked over low heat and lots of wood smoke, and is the single most important flavoring ingredient on what we call barbecue, or BBQ for short. Meat loaf is ground beef formed into a loaf and then baked - and this meat loaf had been baked in a smoker which is a unique and delicious twist. Smoked meatloaf and I are old friends. Old friends. By ordering the special I got a trip to the salad bar as part of the deal, and as I said, the salad bar included the cake.
Barb ordered something else from the menu, which didn't include the salad bar. My diet is heavy on protein and salad, and cakes are something I don't really care for. Barb on the other hand is a carbohydrate-based life form. She loves cakes, breads, all that. As we neared the end of the meal we were discussing this subject that I'm writing on and how the Lord allows us to be in situations to either walk in righteousness or fail the work of righteousness in us.
As we talked it came up the cake on the salad bar was a perfect example. I didn't want any cake, but Barb would eat it. The unrighteous thing would be for me to go to the salad bar and get a slice of cake, then bring it to the table to give it to Barb.
Of course neither of us would do that no matter how much she might want the cake because that would be stealing - but we discussed how opportunities for righteousness to grow in a person goes by unseen because Christians don't have righteousness - that is to say right-ness in their hearts as a way of life.
I could have asked the waitress to bring a slice of cake for Barb, meaning we would have paid for the piece because it wasn't part of Barb's meal. That would have been the righteous thing to do. IF we were dishonest I could have gotten the slice of cake I didn't want, and give it to Barb, and I would have failed the Lord and righteousness within. The reward of doing right is peace and just that much closer to the Lord and to where He can trust me with more of Him.
One of the character issues the Lord tries to grow in us is found in II Peter 1:3-4: "Giving all diligence, add to your faith moral excellence...that's the first one mentioned, and many believers would have had lunch, stolen a piece of cake from the salad bar and given it to their spouse, and think God blessed their meal. But He would have been watching. He would have known, and it's just that much less He would know they could be trusted with...and He would have given them another opportunity to not steal on down the road a while...
Food for thought. Until next week, blessings,