Be Careful What You Ask For

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I love golf. I have been playing since I was a teenager. For about 30 years I didn’t swing a club and now that I am retired, I am able to get back into the game.

My game hasn’t been as good as it was: no surprise there. However, I should be capable of playing what we call “Bogie Golf” and I am getting closer to that goal.

What’s this got to do with anything? I’m getting to that.

When I pray, I constantly ask God for better self-control so that I can pray as David prayed: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to Thee, oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer”  “(Psalm 19:14.)  I have often written how God always answers prayer, and sometimes (in my life) he has told me that when I ask him to change me that he will, but I have to work at it, too. I have to learn to call on his Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to help me achieve that change. This is what happened to me earlier this week while playing a round of golf- God answered my prayer by giving me the opportunity to practice self-control. Here’s what happened…

I was playing a pretty good game for our 9-hole round (league play) but starting at the 6th hole I screwed up a number of shots and ended up with a really bad score for that hole. I got a little teed-off at myself, and from that point on the game went downhill at an alarming speed until I ended up with a score that was nearly 10 strokes higher than I usually get. For 9 holes, no less!

I was angry, using language I shouldn’t, and smacking my club into the ground (at least I wasn’t throwing it like I did when I was a teenager.) I was also embarrassed because later, after cooling down a bit, I realized that I failed to do what God had been giving me a chance to do- be acceptable before him, and also honor him by acting in a way that others would see my self-control, which is one of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Needless to say, I apologized to my golf partner for my actions next time we got together, which was two days later to play on a different course.

I am patient with others when I teach but I confess I have little patience with myself, never accepting less than what I think I should be able to do. So, on my way to this next game, I was praying and asking forgiveness for my lack of self-control. I also asked God to continue to help me, and that’s when I knew, yes I just knew, that I was going to have another bad game.  Not that I wanted another bad game but I knew that even though he is God of all the universe, he would give me another chance to show that I could pass the test. Which meant that, no matter how hard I tried, I was going to hit into the water, duff shots that I shouldn’t duff, find nearly every sand trap on the course and probably end up with another really lousy score.

But this time I was ready for it!

(I did have a lousy score, again, but not as bad as the other day and this time I maintained my self-control throughout it all.)

This story is the reason today’s message is about being careful what you ask for. God always answers prayer: sometimes it is “OK”; sometimes it is “OK, but not now”; and other times it is just plain “NO!” The tricky part is that when God is willing to answer our prayers, his answer isn’t always what we expect or when we expect it, but it is always just what we need, just when we need it. God answered my prayer to have better self-control by giving me the opportunity to work on it through my golf game. At first, I didn’t realize this, and that is why I failed so miserably at it. Through more prayer and the leading of the Ruach, I was able to discern what really happened that day I did so poorly: God was answering my prayer. I asked, he answered and I messed it all up. I wanted God to just intervene, to just re-wire my brain-housing group so that I would automatically have better self-control so I could be more like he wants me to be.

I forgot how a long time ago when I asked God to change the way I think about something, he gave me this answer: “It doesn’t work that way.” He gave me the insight to see that the way it’s done is we each have to work at those things we ask God to change in ourselves. It is up to us to work with God to make that change happen. And God will provide the opportunity, which is why we need to remember that through the experience of having tsouris in our life, even something as insignificant as a golf game, we can learn how to channel his Spirit to overcome our troubles.

I am somewhat proud to say that I was able to figure this one out fairly quickly and hope that going forward I will remember when I ask God for something to remain always on the alert for his answer.

I recommend that you do the same.

God is not my Co-pilot

People from my generation may remember the title of this blog comes from a book (made into a movie) about a WWII pilot. The saying and idea that God is our co-pilot has been picked up and used to show how God influences our life and is with us.

But God isn’t a co-pilot.

Technically, the co-pilot is the second in command of the aircraft, junior to the Captain. Although he has the same skills and training, the Captain is (usually) the more experienced.

I don’t think God is ‘junior’ to anyone. And when we put God in the job of co-pilot, we are taking away His authority and replacing it with our own.

Actually, I think God is the Navigator. Although the Navigator is an NFO (Non Flight Officer), he is , in his own rights (or hers), the one who directs the plane.

The Navigator is the one responsible for making sure the flight path is known and that the plane stays on course, and the Captain and Co-Pilot follow the directions of the Navigator. Even though the Captain is the one driving the plane, the Navigator is the one who tells him where it goes.

That sounds more like how God influences our lives.

God knows what is best for us and He can see where we need to go; He directs us through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so that we stay on course. When we ignore His directions, we get lost. That is why so many people, both saved and unsaved, are flying at hundreds of miles per hour, making distance but not getting where they need to be. And some are not even flying a parallel course to salvation, but are going in the opposite direction. They are lost and getting farther and farther from their God-given target.

We all want to feel like we are in charge -it is almost a part of the human psyche to want to be the one giving the orders. It’s my choice, it’s my life, it’s my decision and I have a right to do what I want to do. Yes, you do have that right. God gave each of us Free Will so that we can make our own decisions.

He is hoping that we make the right ones, the most important (I think) being that it may be my life, but God gave it to me and He never really gave me full title to it. It is His to give and His to take away.

As Job said when he lost everything in the world (or, should I say, everything of the world) that meant anything to him, all within the span of a few minutes:

The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Everything that there is, ever has been or ever shall be belongs to God. We may be given many wonderful blessings, but what we have is still His- He has made us governors, managers and tenders of His creation, but He has not given it to us as a permanent possession. Even the land, which is promised to us as an inheritance, was given to us from others, and God clearly and unabashedly warns us that if we do not treat the land with respect and keep it free of sin (specifically the sins of the prior owners) then we, too, will be ejected. We read this warning in Deuteronomy, in Leviticus, in Isaiah, in 2 Chronicles- throughout the Tanakh we are told, over and over, that the former occupants are being ejected because of the sins they polluted the land with, and that if we also turn from God’s commandments and pollute the land with those same sins, we will be ejected, too.

And that is exactly what happened.

We may be driving the plane, but we need to listen to our Navigator- he is really the one getting the plane where it needs to go. He has the maps, he knows the way, and he can see how far off course we are getting. We are in control of the plane, no doubt, but if we don’t listen to our Navigator we will never get to the landing field; we will fly naively thinking we are really going somewhere, but when we run out of fuel we will crash and burn.

Especially burn.

Listen to your Navigator, respectfully obey His directions, and keep on the life course that God has given you. We all get to do what we want to do, and when we want to listen to our Navigator we will fly sure, with good weather and clear skies. Even if we do have to fly through some heavy clouds and we can’t see where we are, our Navigator knows; all we have to do is go where he tells us to go.

Letting God run your life is not giving up being in charge of it, it is simply making the decision to let God tell you which direction to take. You are still in charge of where you go. And you are also able to let someone else tell you where to go- that is the real problem we all face. Knowing which Navigator to listen to.

When you read the bible you learn who God is; when you accept Messiah Yeshua as your Savior and ask for the Holy Spirit, you will receive it; knowing who God is, accepting Yeshua and having the Ruach haKodesh is the only way you will know God’s voice from the voice of the enemy.

Then, knowing God’s voice, you will be able to pick the Navigator who will direct you to Eternal joy.


Why People Reject God

It’s all about control. Well, that’s what I believe. If you have a different reason click the Comment button and please share with us.

But it really is all about control. The world teaches us, from Day One, that we should take care of Numero Uno (this being a Messianic blog, I should use the term מספר אכד) and that we should be allowed to make our own choices. The world teaches us to learn to be self-sufficient and rely on no one but ourselves. The world teaches us that we can’t trust anyone.

God teaches us that we need to depend on Him. God teaches us that we should be trusting in Him and all our hope is in Him. God teaches us that we do have the right to make our own choices, but whereas the world teaches us to blame others for what we do, God tells us that we will be held responsible for what we do.

God gives us more control than the world does, in truth, because He is in total control of everything, and everything He does is for your own good. God always does what is best for us, even when we don’t want Him to. So, naturally, when we allow Him to be in control we have the only One who can control everything acting on our behalf.

God does what is best for you, and the world does what is best for the world.

Yeshua said that we all are slaves to something, and that no one can be slave to two masters. That’s what I mean when I say it is all about control- people reject God because they are told (and they want) to be in control of themselves. It is clear from the Bible that to accept God, accept Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah and to accept the Grace He provided to us we need to let God be in control. And that goes against everything that “humanity” teaches.

Yet, giving total control to God is the most sensible thing anyone can do. One person against the world is a losing proposition before it even gets off the table. And trusting people who only trust and care about themselves is like walking into traffic with your eyes closed. God, on the other hand, loves us more than we can love anything, and He is always there. The Lord never slumbers, He never sleeps, He is everywhere, all the time, and He can make anything happen with a thought. Yeshua told us (as do the Prophets) that God is a loving God whose love endures forever. That love is not for Himself, but for you and for me. He will do whatever needs to be done (and He can do whatever needs to be done!) to protect and help you. Even if that means giving you a good slap upside your head to get you back on the right track.

When it comes down to it, the choice we all have, and the one we all have to make whether we know we are making it or not, is to choose our Master: it will be God, or it will be the enemy of God, hidden to us in worldly desires and advice.

Know this: when you choose, if it ain’t God, it’s Satan. That is the truth that people reject as quickly and as adamantly as they reject God. They reject that God is in charge and they also reject that Satan is the only other option as a Master. They miss the boat and jump off the dock at the same time.

We do have a choice but there are only two choices: God or Satan. That’s what it boils down to.

I have chosen God and I love the way Joshua puts it to the people of Israel in Joshua 24:15:

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I think this is how we should put it to everyone we minister to: you have a choice, and you are held responsible for that choice. The world teaches us to play the blame game, and that when we do something we shouldn’t it is society’s fault, or that someone should have done something to prevent it. God doesn’t fall for that line- you do it, it’s your fault. You don’t do it, it’s your fault. It’s not because of the way your parents raised you, it’s not because of the neighborhood you grew up in, and it’s not because of the government. They all can have a part in making the decisions you make, but you have to overcome the bad, you have to overcome the problems, and you have to make the right decisions because you are going to be held responsible at the last Judgement! 

So, make you decision because it is your choice. Choose the gods of your ancestors, choose the pantheon of gods in the world today (TV, sports, drugs, work, social media), or choose the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Remember it boils down to God or Satan: Satan wants your eternal soul to suffer with his, and God wants your eternal soul to enjoy Paradise with Him.

When you look at it that way, which is how it is, it makes you wonder why anyone would reject God.

It’s all about control.