On trusting God . . . (and admitting that I don’t)

“The goal of the Christian life is to start trusting God,” according to Aaron Budjen.

He says this in opposition to the widely accepted belief that most Christians live by:  “The goal of the Christian life is to stop sinning.”

No, Aaron says, the goal is not to stop sinning.”  Why?  Because that is impossible.

But trusting God also seems an impossible task at times.  I gave this a lot of thought recently and realized that there was a contradiction between my claim of trusting God and all of the time I spend worrying.

If I actually trusted Him, why do I essentially say to Him:  “Hey God, let me tell you how you should run your universe.”

A few weeks ago I asked myself, “Wait.  Do I even trust God?”

I realized that the answer was no.  With certain things, no, I don’t trust Him.

I just lived with that for a few days.  (Ouch.)

Then, last week, I had an hour-long drive home with views of the Rocky Mountains and rolling hills and cascading pine forests along the way . . .

I thought to myself, “Wow, you’re an idiot!

With my heart rejoicing, I prayed, “Lord, of course I can trust You!  Look at all that you have created!!  Your power is amazing.”

Next, I had these two really vivid dream.  They happened over a span of two nights, and were the type of dream that you can never forget.  They were obvious reminders from God that He is trustworthy; they were reassurances of His friendship with me, His close involvement in my life.

It was as if God was saying, “It’s okay.  I understand.  You are just flesh and blood.  I know exactly how you feel.  But, you really can trust Me.”

And I was blown away!  Yes, I can most certainly trust Him!

I love it how He doesn’t condemn us or expect us to be perfect, or strong or heroically brave.  God is so kind and gentle with us.  He has no expectations of us; He has forgiven us of all of our sin and trespasses (Col 1:14, Eph 1:7).

He knows that we need His comfort, and He gives it to us in times of need.

In fact, He has given us everything that we need, because we have Him!  We just have to remember that He is trustworthy.  🙂

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

Is there power in prayer? A Q&A by Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries.

“I do not believe in the power of prayer. I only believe in the power of God.”

This article can be found here; it is posted at the Q&A section of Aaron’s website.

QUESTION:

I am preparing a sermon on prayer, and was wondering what your thoughts might be on the subject.

ANSWER:

As I see prayer expressed in Christianity today, I really believe there is a very fine line between prayer and witchcraft. In witchcraft, prayer is exercised as a means of getting spiritual entities to respond in a way to inflict good on some other person. Of course the witch determines what is good and what is evil, and either the overall spiritual consciousness or individual spirits respond to the prayer being invoked. The concept of believing in the power of prayer did not originate from the recent Christian mantras, but has been a fundamental tenant of witchcraft for many ages.

I do not believe in the power of prayer. I only believe in the power of God. Now, many Christians respond to me when I say this in agreement with me, but in their hearts they really don’t believe me. They truly believe that God is going to respond to them because of their prayers to Him, and hide their pride by saying something like, “if it’s the will of God.” However, deep down inside they really believe that they can have an influence on God, and that they now have some mystical power they can draw on to effectively inspire or even control the hand of God. While this is certainly very attractive to our flesh, prayer has nothing to do with getting God to respond to us.

God is so often portrayed in the same way that God is portrayed in witchcraft. He is some kind of impersonal spiritual essence that we call upon when life isn’t going the way we want it to go. Many Christians have no idea that God is a real person, who is actively living His life as we live ours. He inspires people, and communicates with them. He effects events and sometimes intervenes in miraculous ways in the affairs of mankind. But He decides when, how, and what He will do regardless of what we tell Him we would like Him to do. He does retain His autonomy and sovereignty quite often in spite of us.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7 that we are to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It is a comfort to me when I experience anxiety that I can speak to God and He hears me. However, as my focus is turned towards Him, I recognize His love for me, and can experience a peace that can only come from Him. This is not because I think He is going to respond to me and give me what I want, but because I recognize who He is in the midst of my circumstances.

You can’t imagine how people are often offended when they ask me what they should be praying for me in my life, and I respond with the fact that I’m not particularly anxious about anything at the moment. It is so offensive because they personally are often consumed with their own anxiety, and they can’t pray anything for me to make themselves feel like they are concerned more about others than themselves. Don’t let such a comment stop you from praying for me, in fact, this may inspire you to pray for me more if you don’t agree with me, but let it be put on your heart by the Spirit of God within you to pray for me if He inspires you to do so. And if He inspires you to pray for me, I can’t imagine Him not also telling you what to pray for. Otherwise, prayer can easily become a mechanism and a religious excuse to stir up gossip.

In my own personal life experience, I have found my life of prayer to be more a time of expressing thanks than asking God for something. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness, 2 Pet 1:3. So, what can I ask for that I don’t already have? Generally what I don’t need for life and godliness. Should I really expect God to respond to that? Not necessarily. Don’t get me wrong. There are many occasions when I do pray and make requests that appear to be directly related to my flesh. The important thing to realize is that this does not have anything to do with my relationship with my God. So often people ask for Him to do what He never came to do, and reject that which He already gave. All that remains is the giving of thanks, which I do as I pray and live my life with a dependency on Him. Subsequently my prayer life becomes more an act of listening than of talking, wanting to hear from Him about what He has given me, and how it applies to my life.

Aaron Budjen

 

Christ is the end of the law

If you are a believer, the Law of Moses was brought to an end for you.

Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

What is the Law?

What the apostle Paul calls “the law” comprises all of the hundreds of commandments that God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The first 10 are the most famous, of course, but there are actually a lot more than 10. It’s common knowledge in the Orthodox Jewish community that there are 613 commandments (listed and re-listed in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

The four gospel accounts — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — further magnify the Law.  The four gospels are technically part of the Old Testament, since the New Covenant did not go into effect until the death of Jesus Christ. When you read them, you are reading the ‘end of the law,’ or the end of the Old Testament. (Bob George of Classic Christianity fame is the one who originally taught this vital truth to me.)

Without the gospels, it would be easy to conclude that the Law deals only with outward behavior. Jesus Christ, however, helps us to see that to be truly obedient to the Law, the thoughts and intentions of our mind must also be pure and good.

Ever felt tormented by one of the parables? Feel uncomfortable when you read the Sermon on the Mount? Those feelings are normal. The Law is having its perfect effect on you. It is beating you up. It is condemning you.

We have no hope of living according to the Law; according to rules and regulations.  Jesus Christ used the Law correctly:  to lead us to the Mercy Seat of God.

Not only did Jesus teach the Law correctly (as opposed to the Pharisees who used it incorrectly), He also lived the Law. He lived every moment of His life under the curse of the Law; He obeyed all of the commandments perfectly.

Jesus did not come to abolish the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. Since the obligations of the Law were fulfilled by Him, it has been brought to an end.

“He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14, GWT)

Christ is the END of the Law, not the beginning. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.”  We Christians must come to the end of the Law, and live righteously by our belief and trust in Him, not in our obedience to the Mosaic Law or any other set of laws.

If Jesus Christ is the end of the Law to everyone who believes, why do so many believers today want to remain ‘in’ the Law?  Why are we not coming to the end of it?

For many of us, it takes time.

I was finally able to come to the end of the Law because I really ‘gave it my all’ as a young Christian. I spent over 10 years being extremely zealous.

If you’ve never been a full-on Jesus Freak zealot, maybe you should give it a try. Really work at the Christian life with fervor. If you would rather not be a raging legalist, well then, studiously read the Law of Moses.

The story of God giving the 613 commandments to Moses begins in Exodus chapter 20. After God speaks the first 10 commandments, there is a break in the narrative because the millions of Israelites gathered around Mt. Sinai grew terrified and they ran away.

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” (Exodus 20:18-19)

From then on, God spoke solely to Moses. Aaron Budjen brought this truth to light: that God wanted to speak to the entire nation of Israel Himself, yet the only one who would listen to Him was Moses.

The rest of the 603 commandments are recorded in chapters 21, 22 and 23 of Exodus. When God finished speaking to Moses, he went down the mountain and reported the 613 commandments to the Israelites. They agreed to obey all of them.

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 24:3)

After that Moses “wrote down all of the words of the Lord.” In its written form, it is often called The Book of the Covenant.

Next, Moses reads his book to them. This is the second time they are hearing the Law.

In essence he is saying to them, “Hold on guys, are you sure about this? You’re really going to do everything He said? This is serious. You had better listen to all of these commandments again.”

The second reading of the Law is recorded in Exodus 24, “Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

I love the classic Jewish behavior shown here: they are very enthusiastic, very driven, and very ambitious.

Next they wander around in the wilderness for 40 years, but before they enter the Promised Land, Moses goes over the covenant with them a third time.

“After they wandered around in the desert for 40 years He reestablished the covenant with them – they went over it, they reviewed it – and Moses rewrote the covenant in what we call the Deuteronomy, or the book of Deuteronomy. In that text we have a rewrite of the covenant in “covenantial form.” (Aaron Budjen)

They try and try for over 600 years to obey all that the Lord had said to them, but they continually fail. God kicks them out of the Promised Land and they get taken to Babylon as slaves. (Click here for more information.)

The Pharisees arise during the Babylonian captivity. The Pharisees were the Orthodox and ultra Orthodox Jews of their day. They added thousands of ‘fence laws’ to God’s original 613, and they come to believe that they have finally achieved total obedience to the Law.

The Messiah arrives on the scene around 4 B.C., and He really gets in their faces. Jesus tells them plainly that they have not achieved perfection; He ends the Sermon on the Mount by telling them that they have to actually be as perfect as God the Father.

Jesus was as perfect as God. He was God. Jesus is God. Only He could fulfill the Law. And since He died as a human, His death was offered to God and was acceptable to God the Father as a substitutionary death for all of humanity.

He brought an end to the Law. If you are a new creation in Christ, live according the Law of the Spirit of Life. Do not live according to the Law of Sin and Death.

Do not allow the Law of Moses to be your guide; allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Jesus Christ is the end of the Law to everyone who believes.

End it already.