Chapter 6
God Is On Your Side
(taken from the book "I Will Give You Rest" by Edward Kurath)


(This chapter will make most sense if you first read
Chapters 2 and 3)

Knowing that my sins set in motion God's laws, and therefore
every sin brings negative consequences, (Chapters 2 and 3) can
make me very anxious.  The power and inevitability of the
operation of God's laws revealed in the following scriptures can
haunt us.

    Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man
    sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).

    For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and
    with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to
    you (Matthew 7:2).


What If I Don't "Get It Right"?
What happens if I don't get it right?  What happens if I fail to catch
every sin and have it forgiven?  We may feel alone and hopeless,
and may be set into striving to make sure we don't miss
anything.  We may then become discouraged, despondent, even
desperate when we fail to catch every sin.

If the spiritual universe was simply mechanical and automatic, we
would indeed be in trouble.  If at this moment we were to reap the
just consequences of every sin we ever committed, we would be
overwhelmed.  The pain and bad fruit in our lives would be
unbearable.


God Is Protecting Us
Fortunately for us, God actively intervenes in this process.  For
His children, God holds back most of the accumulated reaping
that we would otherwise experience.  He loves us and does not
want us overwhelmed or destroyed.

We see this easily when we think of children.  For example, when
children are very small, we put them in a crib with side rails.  We
do this to protect them from falling out of bed and getting hurt.  
However, there comes a time when we expect them to be able to
sleep without falling out of bed.

We also provide "baby sitters" for our children when they are
small.  Otherwise, while we are gone they might hurt themselves,
or perhaps burn the house down.  We take care of them in this
way because we know they are not yet ready to handle the
responsibilities of looking after themselves.  Eventually they will
have matured enough to handle greater responsibilities, and we
can then leave them alone and expect them to be responsible.  In
fact, they will eventually want to take care of themselves.  Then
we no longer should protect them to the same degree.  They
need to grow and practice exercising the new responsibilities
while we are still available to coach them.


God Is A Good Father
God protects us in a similar way.  He only allows us to reap what
will help us, what will motivate us to pursue our healing.  He only
allows us to experience what we are ready to handle, so that the
experience will bring about good in our lives, rather than
destruction.

    The trials that you have had to bear are no more than
    people normally have.  You can trust God not to let you be
    tried beyond your strength, and with any trial he will give
    you a way out of it and the strength to bear it (1 Corinthians
    10:13, The Jerusalem Bible, underlining is mine).


Raising My Son
My son John was always a happy-go-lucky boy.  He always had a
lot of friends, and was very generous.  However, if he had a dollar
in his pocket, he spent it.  After all, he knew that his parents
would meet all of his financial needs, so why not?  We talked to
him many times about saving some money, but it never
happened.  We were very concerned that he would grow up to be
financially irresponsible.

In the summer between his sophomore and junior year of high
school we got him a good paying job with a building contractor
who was putting an addition onto our house. As a growing boy,
when school started in the fall, none of his old clothes would fit
anymore.  In the past we had always bought all his clothes.  Now
that he had a well paying job, he agreed that he would pay for his
own new clothes that fall.

When fall came, he informed us that he needed some new clothes
for school.  We agreed, as his pants were three inches too short.  
However, over the summer he had spent all of his money, much
of it on his friends.   We were then faced with either bailing him
out of his dilemma, or making him live with the consequences of
his behavior.  Since our previous words had not taught him
about saving for a rainy day, we realized that he needed to
experience in his life the results of his choices.  So we didn't pay
for new clothes.

As we all know, peer pressure is a cruel master for teenagers.  
When John had to go to school in clothes that were too small,
each day he died a thousand deaths.  Later in the fall his
wrestling coach gave him an old pair of tennis shoes that he had
found abandoned in a locker.  John was mortified by this.  What
finally bailed him out of his unpleasant consequence was
Christmas and clothing gifts from his grandparents.  John has
now become a financially responsible adult.


Were We Cruel?
Were we cruel when we allowed peer pressure to impact him?  
Were we being unloving by allowing him to suffer for his
misbehavior?  Not at all.  It was difficult for us to watch him
suffer.  We loved him, but we knew there was a lesson that he
needed to learn; and it could only be learned by experience.  If he
didn't change his attitude towards money he would possibly
suffer all of his life from financial folly.  As his parents, it was our
responsibility to do what was necessary to help him to grow up
to be mature and responsible.

We did not create the peer pressure that made him suffer, but we
did withdraw our "protection" from it.  We had within our power
the ability to protect him from that embarrassment by buying him
some new clothes.  However, it was evident that he had not yet
learned to be responsible, and perhaps the only way he would
become mature would be for us to withhold our "protection."  It
was in his best interest, even though he hated it, and he suffered.  
In a sense, we "used" the peer pressure, which is a cruel and
merciless force, to help him to become mature and responsible.


God Wants Us Healed
When Christians encounter difficulties they often ask, "Why
didn't God keep that from happening?"  They wonder, if God is all
powerful, why didn't He intervene?

Hopefully this example with my own son will help you
understand how God works in our lives.  He tries to gently tell us
about something that we need to change.  But if we don't, or
can't, change our behavior, there are times that He has to allow
us to suffer the consequences for what we do.  Because He loves
us, even though it hurts Him to watch us suffer, He is willing to
endure this.  He knows that we need our character changed, and
that experiencing pain in our lives is sometimes the only way that
we will be motivated to seek change.


God Is Raising His Children
As parents, most of us do the best we can in raising our children,
but we don't do it perfectly.  However, God is the perfect parent:

    For they (our earthly parents) indeed for a few days
    chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit,
    that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
       
God is your Father, and He is raising you like a good father raises
a child.  God speaks in relationship terms, because most of us
have been raised in families, and many have been parents.  Thus
He is speaking about relationships, with which you can likely
relate, because He wants you to understand experientially what
your relationship with Him is like.


God Is Wiser Than Us
Those of us who are parents know how much we love our
children.  We also know that when they were little we were much
wiser than they were, and hopefully we had their best interests at
heart as we raised them.  Sometimes they did not understand all
the reasons why we were disciplining them as we were, and
usually they were not happy with the discipline.  In fact, the
discipline had to be unpleasant or it would be ineffective.


God Tailors Our Walk
We also realized that one-year-old children cannot perform as
five-year-old children.  Schools do not expect as much of first
graders as they do of ninth graders.  In the mean time, as they
gradually grow, we need to do for them what they cannot do for
themselves.  However, it is up to us as parents to decide what
they can or cannot do.  Parents also need to challenge their
children to help them to grow up into mature and responsible
adults.  If parents were to do everything for their children, they
would grow up to be lazy, spoiled, self-centered, and immature.  
But if children are properly mentored, they grow up to be mature.

So it is with God.  He is raising you for your good.  He is wiser,
and He has a special plan for your life.  He knows what you need
at any stage of your life.  For example, all of you who have walked
with the Lord for some time have discovered that you can't "get
away with" as much as you could when you were first saved.  
The level of accountability for your sins has obviously increased.


We Gave Him Permission
Before you gave your life to Jesus, you were not God's child, and
you were in rebellion against Him.  At that time He let you go your
own way, and you were not under His protection.

You were in the world and of the world, and Satan was the one
who had authority over you.  However, when you responded to
God's invitation and made a choice to turn your life over to Jesus,
you became God's child.  At that moment reality changed for you.

When you made that choice you gave Him permission to raise
you as He saw best.  At that time you probably didn’t know the
full impact of your decision.  But from the moment you made
Jesus your Lord, He had your permission to do whatever it took
to direct you to maturity.


God Does Not Afflict You
It is important for you to know that God does not afflict you.  
Otherwise you might be angry at Him, and that wouldn't be good
for you.  God allowing you to reap some of the just
consequences of your own sin is very different than God
afflicting you.  In the example of raising my son, if I had been the
one afflicting him, I would be the one taunting him and making
fun of him.  I would be pointing out to all of his friends his
inadequate clothing and being sure to point out his immaturity
and irresponsibility.  That would be an awful thing to do!  Can you
imagine doing that to your own child?

God specifically tells us that He won't do this to us.

    Happy the man who remains steadfast under trial, for
    having passed that test he will receive for his prize the gift of
    life promised to those who love God.  No one under trial or
    temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for
    God is untouched by evil, and does not himself tempt
    anyone.  Temptation arises when a man is enticed and lured
    away by his own lust; then lust conceives, and gives birth to
    sin; and sin full-grown breeds death.  Do not deceive
    yourselves, my friends.  All good giving and every perfect
    gift comes from above, from the Father of the lights of
    heaven.  With him there is no variation, no play of passing
    shadows.  Of his set purpose, by declaring the truth, he gave
    us birth to be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (James 1:
    12-18, New English Bible).


God Has A Good Plan For You
The above scripture touches on God's purpose in allowing trials
in our lives.  He says, he gave us birth to be a kind of firstfruits of
his creatures.  He also implies that this is a good thing: All good
giving and every perfect gift comes from above.  But what does
this really mean?


What Is The Purpose Of Your Life?
Does your life have a purpose, or is it just a series of random
events that will be over when you die?  As a Christian, what does
God expect of you?  Does He have a plan for you?  Have you
ever asked yourself questions like:

•        Why do bad things happen to "good" people?
•        Why do I suffer?
•        Why does life sometimes seem to not go my way?
•        Why do my plans so often not work out?
•        Will I go to hell because I sin?
•        Am I pleasing God?
•        Why am I not prospering?
•        Why don't I feel satisfied and fulfilled?
•        What is the purpose of my life?

Truly, life is frustrating and confusing when you don't know what
God's plan is for you and what He wants from you.


Possible Purposes For Your Life
In reading the Bible it is possible to come up with quite a
challenging list of things that Christians are supposed to do with
their lives.

"The List"
We are to:
•        love God.
•        worship God.
•        love others.
•        preach the Gospel.
•        bring others into the Kingdom.
•        live a "good" life.
•        be a good witness to the world.
•        be changed into the image of God.
•        resist evil.
•        pray for one another.

This is an overwhelming list, and yet it isn't even exhaustive.  It
seems even more overwhelming when we have been striving to
live up to any part of it.  Most of us have tried very hard, and we
have not been very successful.  It may even seem impossible.  
The Apostle Paul experienced this same struggle.

    For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will
    to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. . . O
    wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this
    body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our
    Lord! (Romans 7:15, 24-25).

Paul understands our struggle, and here he is saying that Jesus
can deliver us from this cycle of trying and failing, trying and
failing again.  But how can this happen?


Jesus Kept The Whole "List"
Jesus kept the whole "List."  How did He manage to do this?  He
did it because it was his very nature, and therefore He did it
effortlessly and perfectly.  A fish swims and a bird flies.  They
don't have to think about it, they just do it.  It is their nature.  
Jesus lived perfectly because he was without sin.

Then Jesus says that we are to do the same works as He did!

    "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the
    works that I do he will do also; and greater works than
    these he will do, because I go to My Father" (John 14:12).


How Can We Possibly Keep "The
List?"
          
How can we possibly keep "The List," when we find it so difficult
to keep one or two of the items?  It sounds impossible.  Jesus
was able to keep "The List" because it was His nature.  That is
also the only way we can keep it.  We need a new nature.  We
need to be changed into the image of Jesus.  When have been
changed, we too can keep "The List."  As we are in the process
of being changed into His image, we will each incrementally gain
His nature, and we will then behave as He does, step by step.  As
each segment of our "Honeycomb" (see Chapter 3) is cleansed
and inhabited by Jesus, the new "good root" (Jesus) will
produce "good fruit." In that specific area of our lives, our
character has been transformed.  


Why Does God Want This For
You?
We don't know all the reasons why God wants you changed into
the image of Jesus, but He does reveal some of the reasons.

    1.        He loves you.  As a result of this love, He gave His
    Son to make it possible for you to be set free from the just
    consequences of your sins.  He hates sin, because it
    causes His children to suffer.  He wants this cycle of sin and
    death to stop.
    2.        You are here to be changed into the image of Jesus in
    order to be prepared to rule and reign with Him in eternity.   
    You need to be like Him to be trustworthy so that you can
    carry out this assignment.
    3.        He wants companions, beings that have freely chosen
    Him, despite the fact that in many ways it would have been
    easier not to choose Him.

As you can see, God made provision for you not only to go to
heaven and to live with Him for eternity, but He also made
provision for you in this life.


Being “Saved” Has Two Meanings.
    1.        The first meaning refers to the one time event
    that occurred when you made Him Lord of your life.  At that
    moment you turned over to Him the "title deed," the
    ownership rights, to your life.  We call this event such things
    as: becoming a Christian, being born again, or
    "justification."  This event happens at the point in time when
    you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him into
    your life.

    From then on, you belong to God .  You are a member of His
    family , a child of His, and thus He has permission to do
    whatever He wants to in your life.

    Because He loves you, whatever He does is always for your
    best interest.   He knows how to take care of those who
    belong to Him.

    2.        The second meaning of being “saved” refers
    to the ongoing process that then takes place in which you
    are being changed into His image.  We call this process
    "sanctification," or discipleship, or growing in Godliness, or
    being transformed into the image of Jesus.  This is a lifetime
    process, and is sometimes called “Inner Healing, " though
    this particular term does not appear in the Bible.  Your
    sanctification is His major goal for you, and He spares no
    resources to bring this about.  Everything else in your life is
    secondary to this goal.   You may have some other goal in
    life, such as happiness, or abundance, or a life without
    difficulties.  If these other things are your goals in life,
    whenever you don't reach these other goals, it can be
    frustrating and confusing.  However, it is only confusing
    because you don’t see God’s priority in that moment,
    because you have your eyes on the wrong goal.  You may
    also want to read about "justification" and "sanctification"
    in the Glossary.

    Recognize that the "one-time" event does not change you
    into the image of Jesus (being sanctified).  It only puts you
    into a legal position for God to take you on your journey of
    being sanctified.


God Is Very Personal With You
The events that happen in your life as a Christian are not random,
or impersonal consequences of your sin, nor are they pointless.  
They are God's personal, loving  attention to your life.

Keep in mind that the Lord’s paramount goal is to change you
into the image of Jesus, and everything else is secondary.  Just
as good parents have to allow their children to suffer difficulties if
they are to mature, so God allows the trials you go through in
order to bring about the transformation you need.    He knows
each of us and carefully designs each of our training programs to
fit us perfectly.  He knows our level of maturity.


This Sanctification Process Can
Feel Grievous
    Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but
    grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit
    of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
    (Hebrews 12:11).

Unfortunately, this process of being changed into His image is
very difficult.  If everything in our life went smoothly, we would
become spoiled, self-centered, and greedy.  We can see this in
children who are not properly disciplined by their parents.


Old Testament Examples
This tendency is also illustrated in the Old Testament and the
history of the nation of Israel.

    •        When King David began to prosper and experience a
    life of ease, he sinned with Bathsheba.
    •        King Solomon had the throne handed to him, and he
    always experienced a life of ease and luxury.  He sinned
    mightily.  For example, he had 700 wives and 300
    concubines, and his wives turned away his heart (1 Kings
    11:3).  He also greatly oppressed the people (1 Kings 12:4).
    •        When God gave prosperity to the people of Israel, they
    strayed from God because they felt self-sufficient.  They
    only came back to Him when threatened with destruction.  
    This happened many times in their history.  He warned them
    about this tendency in Deuteronomy 6:12: "then beware,
    lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of
    Egypt, from the house of bondage."    


New Testament Example
The apostle Paul is also an example of God using Satan to bring
about eventual blessing.  Paul says of himself,

    And lest I should be exalted above measure by the
    abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given
    to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted
    above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the
    Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said
    to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is
    made perfect in weakness'.  Therefore most gladly I will
    rather boast of my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
    rest upon me  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Clearly, the Lord knew that Paul might become "exalted"
(
huperairomai, "to become haughty") because of the special
things that he experienced, and it was clearly implied in this
passage that it was within the Lord's power to remove the
"thorn."  But He didn't remove it, because it was in the best
interest of both Paul and the cause of Christ for which Paul
labored that the "thorn" remain.


God Knows What It Takes To
Transform Us
Therefore, each of us needs tests, trials, and discomfort to
achieve God's goal for us, because these things motivate us.  
God undoubtedly wishes that He did not have to allow us to be
afflicted and thus experience pain, but He knows He must if we
are to be transformed.  I am also convinced that He uses the
minimum amount of pain and challenge necessary to accomplish
the change, but He does use every bit of pressure that is
necessary to accomplish His purpose.


God Is Most Interested In Our
Character
He is more interested in our character than in our being free from
pain.  Again, keep in mind that as Christians we are in a special
relationship with God.  We are now His children and we have
given Him ownership of our life .  There will be times when we,
like Paul, would rather not be experiencing the pain; but God is
more interested in our character than in our comfort.  Those who
are not members of God's family do not have the same level of
protection from evil.  Since God does not "own them," He
therefore does not have the same freedom to operate in their
lives.


What About The Devil?
God is sovereign, and He is greater than the Devil.   God protects
those who belong to Him.  So as God's child, Satan does not
have access to you unless God allows it.  God sometimes even
uses Satan to accomplish His purposes.

There are Christians who believe it is their job to rebuke the Devil
all the time.  They see a demon behind every negative thing that
happens to them, and they believe it is totally up to them to stand
against the Devil (in the name of Jesus, of course).  It is as though
they are naked and alone; and if they don't protect themselves,
nobody else will.  This is based upon a misunderstanding of
Scripture, and this tendency may be evidence of striving,
performance and a need to control.  Their view is totally different
than the view I am presenting.


God Protects Us As Necessary
You do need to recognize that there is an enemy and many
demons.  Usually, however, they have no access to you.  For
most people, their problems are not demonic (see Chapter 16,
"Deliverance and Inner Healing," for more details on this
subject).  When you gave your life to Jesus, you became His
property, and He became your protector.   When demons do have
access, it is because God is allowing this in order to accomplish
His purpose.  There are, in fact, times when God's purpose is for
you to practice using your authority to command demons.  When
Paul commanded the demon in Acts 16:16-18,  he first walked by
the situation for many days before he acted, so he obviously did
not command demons every time he saw evil.  Evidently, Paul
only acted when God told him to.


Random Use Of Authority Can Be
Dangerous!
If you use your authority to command a demon when that is not
what God does want you to do at that moment, you may find
yourself getting in the way of God's plan.  Or worse yet, you may
find yourself in trouble and learning a hard lesson.  “If God has
not directly commanded you to do this kind of spiritual warfare,
you are engaged in presumptive behavior.  In essence, that is
rebellion” (Jackson, p.38).  For more on this subject, read
Needless Casualties of War by John Paul Jackson.


A Change Of Attitude Results From
This New Awareness
Once you realize that God is active in all the troubles you face,
your whole attitude will change.  Instead of fighting against what
He is doing, you will tend to ask, "OK, Lord, I don't like this at all.  
But
what are You trying to change in me through this
miserable experience?"
 This explains a scripture that many
of us have hated:

    My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various
    trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces
    patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you
    may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).

Now that you understand what God is doing in your life, this
verse makes perfect sense!


Comfort and Peace
I used to have comfort, peace, and financial prosperity as my
life's goals.  At that time I thought that if I had enough faith, then
my life should be smooth sailing.  But it seemed to me that God
would keep going by in a motorboat making waves on my placid
lake.

At that time I would get angry whenever my life didn't go well.  I
used to resist what was going on, thinking it shouldn't be
happening.  I would either be angry with God or I would wonder
what I had done wrong that had caused the problem.

This perspective had a tendency to put me in a performance
mode by thinking that if I do right (by the power of my will, of
course), things will go well in my life.  If I don't do right, then
things will not go well.

That view is in error for a New Testament believer. This
erroneous perspective eliminates God's active participation in my
life.  In truth, worrying and striving are not necessary.  I just need
to listen and obey.


Sin Has Consequences
Does the fact that God is committed to our sanctification mean it
is alright to sin?  After all, we may conclude, He will protect us
from the consequences of our sin.

But keep in mind that God is actively in charge of our process.  If
we begin to think we are so insulated from the consequences of
our sin that we can sin and get away with it, God will know this
and discipline us accordingly.


We Can't Fool God
God looks on the heart, and we can't fool Him.  He is gracious to
the repentant, but committed to our sanctification.  If we are being
casual about sin, we are not being like Jesus, and so He will go to
work on correcting our misperception.

    Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.  
    But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so
    that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign
    through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ
    our Lord.  What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in
    sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we
    who died to sin live any longer in it? (Romans 6:1-2).


Our Life Is Not Mechanical
Legalism
Because God is actively in charge of our sanctification, reaping
from our sin is not simply a mechanical consequence, and the
consequences are not random.  Sometimes He causes us to reap
what we sow, because that is what we need to pay attention to at
that moment.  At other times He protects us from the
consequences of a sin, because that is not what He is working
on in our life at that time.  The consequences are not to punish
us, but to lead us to healing (to being changed into the image of
Jesus).


If We Resist
It is true that if we drag our feet or rebel against the lesson He is
giving us, it will be harder for us.  Then we will have to endure
more suffering.  Since He is determined to heal us, He will persist
in bringing trials until we do respond.

On the other hand, if we listen and obey, then the trial can end,
because it has accomplished its purpose.  This is one very
important reason why we must understand the purpose of our
trials, so that we will not fight against what God is doing, or
attempt to evade his discipline.

We can do it the easy way, or the hard way.


God Does Whatever It Takes
Saul discovered this on the road to Damascus.  He had been
persecuting the early church and was obviously ignoring any
messages from God.  God had to roll out the "big guns" to get his
attention.  Jesus appeared in a bright light, and Saul fell to the
ground.

    And Saul said, "Who are You, Lord?"  And He said, "I am
    Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.  It is dangerous and it
    turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad -
    that is, to offer vain and perilous resistance" (Acts 9:5,
    Amplified Bible).

In that moment, God got Saul's attention.  Saul was terrified!  
Trembling and astonished he asked, "Lord, what do You desire
me to do?" (verse 9:6).  Saul believed, and then he obeyed what
Jesus told him to do.


The Role Of Natural
Consequences
There can, of course, also be natural consequences to things
that we do in ignorance, or willfully, or because of weakness.  
Examples of natural consequences would be destruction to our
health through smoking or over-eating, or physical injury from
risky behavior.  If we suffer such consequences, it may not have
anything to do with God's plan for us, or His training.  These
consequences may simply be the natural consequences of
physical laws.

Even in these areas, however, God will do everything He can to
warn us about the problem, and He will find a way to use these
experiences as part of our process of being transformed.


God Knows Our Limitations
God only expects us to deal with the areas of sin that He knows
we are ready to work on.  In other words, He has a plan for our
lives, He has our lives under His control, and He only lets us pay
the consequences for those sins that He wants us to deal with
right now.  That is part of the mystery.  He has a unique and a
dynamic plan for each of us, and it is ever changing as we grow.  
That is why a formula doesn't work.


The Christian Walk Is Not A Set Of
Rules -
We Have A Living God
It is important to guard against trying to reduce God to a formula.  
Putting Him in a box this way often happens so subtly that we are
not even aware of it.  For instance, when I am faced with a
problem in my life, I go to the Bible to find an answer.  This is
good.  But this quest for His guidance can go astray.

Suppose a woman is married to a non-Christian.  She badly
wants her husband to receive Jesus, so she "claims" Acts 16:31,
spoken to the Philippian jailer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and you will be saved, you and your household."  But her
husband remains unsaved, year after year.  Many of you may
have heard this scripture applied in this way.


I Didn't Understand This
In this same way, I once claimed a scripture at a time when my
business was struggling.  I had been taught that God wants us to
have plenty, so I personally claimed 3 John 1:2:

    Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in
    health, just as your soul prospers.

Instead of improving, my business problems persisted.  In fact,
strange things happened to thwart my business plans.  It became
obvious that it was God who was getting in the way of me
prospering.  I was mystified, and I was angry with God because
He wasn't answering my prayer as He was "supposed" to.

What went wrong?  Didn't God make this promise?  Wasn't I
praying hard enough?  Was there something wrong with my
faith?  Was the Devil stealing my blessing?

Yes, God did make this promise, but not necessarily to me at this
moment in my life.


I Reduced God To A Formula
I have since discovered an error in what I believed.  I had tried to
reduce God to a formula.  This error is quite common among
Christians.  This misperception often happens so subtly that we
are not even aware that we have gotten off track.  The quest for
guidance in my life goes astray when I take a scripture spoken to
someone else in another time and take it as a promise to myself
in the present.

When I make this mistake, I am taking the Bible as a legalistic
rulebook, and that particular scripture as a formula.  When I do
this, I am subtly seeing God's Word as an object, not as an
expression of a living, present God.     I am then reducing God to
a set of rules, and am subtly denying His active, living presence
in my daily life.

God knew that the Philippian jailer's household would be saved,
and so His word through Paul and Silas was a true, living word
direct from the Living God for that household at that time.  In the
same way, our living God will give us the guidance we need when
we need it, if we are seeking and listening.   His direction will be
specific to us for that time in our life, will promote what is good
for us, and will always be in line with His character.


Who Is In Control?
There can be another hidden implication in this misuse of
Scripture.  I may think that if I can understand "how God does
things," I can use Scripture to get what I want.  One reason I fall
for this trap is because this puts me back in control.  I want to be
in control of my own life, because at some level I don't trust God
to take care of me.

However, despite my need to control, God is the One in control of
my life.  I used to try to use Scripture this way, but God loved me
too much to allow me to succeed in my error.  He was always
faithful to prevent me from succeeding in my attempts to use
Scripture in this way.  I used to get very angry with Him about it.

I now know that God frustrated me because He wanted me to
know that He is a living person with a will and emotions and a
good plan for my life.

He is God, He is actively in control, and I am not.  And
that is a very good thing!


Profoundly Different, But True!
The view I am presenting may be profoundly different than what
you have believed.  As a new Christian, I was greatly interested in
what my new life was all about, and I wondered what I was
supposed to be doing.  I wanted so much to obey God.

Unfortunately, I heard preaching that confused me.  From one
teacher I would be told that our main duty was to preach the
Gospel.  I tried that, but failed miserably.  Another teacher
emphasized loving God.  I tried that, but knew I was doing that
inadequately.  At one time or another, I tried to do most of the
things on "The List."   I wanted so much to please God, but kept
falling short.


God Was Patiently Leading Me
However, as time went by and I began to see what God really
wanted from me, I experienced great relief.  God knew I couldn't
do those things in my own strength.  He knew that the only way I
could obey Him was for Him to change me into the image of
Jesus.  I then realized how confused I had previously been.


God Understands - What A Relief!
If you have tried to obey Him and failed, this new understanding
will bring great relief and will be life giving to you.  When you can
look at the Bible through the eyes of this new perspective, God's
plan for you will make sense, and you will be able to see that His
plan for you is possible to fulfill!  Once you can understand what
God expects, and the glorious provision that He has made so that
it is possible to achieve, many otherwise confusing scriptures
will no longer be confusing.


I Am Trying To Help You Get Set
Free
Most of this book will be devoted to showing you how you can
become like Jesus
, and revealing the amazing, miraculous
provisions God has established through Jesus so that this
transformation can happen in you.

The purpose of this book is to show you how to cooperate with
God's plan for you, which is to change you into the image of
Jesus.     
   


Knowing His Plan Is Important!
I devoted an entire chapter on the issue of God's plan for His
children, because it is so highly important.

His plan for you is the very foundation for your Christian life, here
on earth, and everything I have written in this book depends
upon this understanding.  You can either resist what He is doing,
or cooperate.

    •        For many, the awareness that God is in charge of every
    aspect of their life will require a huge shift in perspective as
    to how they view themselves and their life as a Christian.
    •        This walk is not just for a sick few, but rather it is the
    normal life for every Christian.
    •        The goal of Inner Healing is not simply to remove your
    pain, but it has the larger goal of changing you into the
    image of Jesus.  Pain is simply a motivator.
    •        Inner Healing is a new way of life, living in a new way
    every day for the rest of your life.  You cannot go back to
    your old way of living or you will again be stuck.
    •        Inner Healing is the very core of God's plan for your
    life.  Life will only go well if you are pursuing His plan for
    you.


Summary
When we sin, by the operation of God's laws we set in motion
negative consequences which will bring destruction in our lives.  
However, God loves His children and is on our side.  He has the
power to protect us from these consequences, and He does so.  
However, there are times when God steps aside and allows us to
suffer these just consequences of our sin.

When He does allow us to suffer,
it is always for our good.  
Though the suffering is painful for the moment, He allows it
because He has a good plan for us.  God wants to change us into
the image of Jesus.  He knows that repenting and forgiving are
often difficult for us, and sometimes we need suffering and pain
to motivate us to surrender to His process.

God is personally committed to this process in each of His
children.  He tailor makes the plan for each individual, and He
personally oversees it as it proceeds.  Our sanctification is not a
mechanical or random process, so we can rest in the sure
knowledge that our loving Father is in charge.

    What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us,
    who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son,
    but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him
    also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge
    against God's elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he who
    condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also
    risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes
    intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of
    Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or
    famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Yet in all
    these things we are more than conquerors through Him
    who loved us (Romans 8:31-35, 37).

It is a hostile world, but not a hostile God.

God is on your side!

God has a way of telling us when we have sinned.  
Chapter 11 will tell about that system.



      Click here to go to Chapter 11


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Copyright 2003 Edward Kurath
Divinely  Designed
Being changed into the image of Jesus