Getting In Our Own Way
Have you ever been confused why God didn’t do something specific to help you in your life? Have you ever said to yourself, “Well, I guess that much-needed blessing just wasn’t God’s will for me.”? I would like to encourage you to consider that God’s will for your life isn’t automatically done. There are many cases in the Bible where God’s wishes were ignored or thwarted by His chosen people, others, or even the devil and his forces.
Consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God’s will for them was eternal life, joy, and fellowship with Him in the garden He prepared for them. However, due to man’s actions, that plan had to change.
How about the children of Israel wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years? The initial trip to the Promised Land should only have taken a few weeks by foot. Instead, the Israelites were forced to wander for 40 years until most had died off and a new generation could go into the original land that was God’s perfect plan for them.
Remember David with Bathsheba?
Samson with Delilah?
Don’t forget Zechariah and his doubt over the birth of his son John. His lack of faith manifested in his silence until the time to name the baby.
Even Peter had to be corrected on more than one occasion in the book of Acts.
There seems to be quite a catalog of God’s people struggling to trust and obey Him. Every single time, disobedience resulted in negative consequences. It seems that growing in faith necessitates trials and failures as we grow into who He has called us to be!
God’s Will Can Be Limited By Unbelief
One key example of this occurred when Jesus went to His home town of Nazareth. Mark records this visit in Mark chapter 6:1-6:
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man learn these things, and what is this wisdom that has been given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?’ And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.’ And He could not do any miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.
Jesus was only able to heal a few minor ailments because of their unbelief in Him. He knew He was the Son of God, but because they only saw Him as a carpenter, or the son of Mary, they couldn’t receive the fullness of His power and authority. Jesus wanted to do more for them, but they just couldn’t receive because they thought they already knew who He was and refused to change their opinion about it. They had experienced Jesus a certain way in the past and when He no longer fit that narrative, they rejected Him.
What We Believe About Jesus
This still happens in the Church today. So many Christians have put Jesus in a box according to their tradition, their experience, or their denominational doctrine. We can discern that we have done this when we explain away something we read in the Bible or dismiss a modern-day miracle when we hear about it.
We have also mistakenly put Jesus in a box when we lose our hope and faith that God can, or will, help us in our hour of need. Acts 10:38 tells us that,
Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.
When we don’t believe that about Jesus’s work in our own lives, we have inadvertently put Him in a box and rejected Who He is to us and what He came to do for us.
The Example of Lazarus
We see examples of these principles all throughout the Gospels. One fascinating example occurs in John 11:1-5 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead:
Now a certain man was sick: Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. And it was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not meant for death, but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’
Lazarus’s sisters believed Jesus could heal him, so they called for Him to come immediately to their aid. However, Jesus wanted to expand their faith to include more than just physical healing, but also resurrection from the dead. He also wanted to glorify God in an even greater way.
When Jesus finally came to see them, after Lazarus had been dead for 4 days, He challenged their beliefs and encouraged them to trust Him to do more for them. John 11:38-44 says,
So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Remove the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.’ And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Their Expectations Vs God’s Truth
In this chapter, we see so many expectations in play. Martha expected Him to heal, but not raise from the dead. Mary expected Him to come sooner. Even Thomas expected to die because of persecution as they were returning to Bethany. All of these expectations went unfulfilled because they weren’t founded on the truth of God’s Word, but on experience and reasoning.
When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” in John 11:25-26, He was asking Martha to put aside her faulty belief system and receive God’s Word as her final authority.
Her response was, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.” Her faith in Jesus and Who He is transformed the situation from a moment of defeat to the seed of victory. She still didn’t understand fully what He was intending to do, but at least she was able to respond with obedience when He asked her to do nonsensical things, like rolling the stone away from a tomb that had been shut up for days!
Who Do YOU Say Jesus Is?
Our faith is what unlocks God’s will in our lives. When we don’t believe that He wants to or can bless us, His power is limited. Let God’s will be accomplished abundantly in you!
I guarantee you that there are areas of your life in which you need God’s power to flow in order to receive God’s Best for your life. I would love for you to take some time right now and write those areas down on a sheet of paper or on your smartphone. Next, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what YOU believe about Jesus regarding those areas. Then ask God to help you believe His Word about who Jesus is to you!