It struck me as I reflected on my faith recently that God isn’t insecure. It seems obvious, but sometimes we behave like God needs to prove Himself to us – as though our lives are a referendum on His faithfulness. Occasionally, we argue with God’s ways and instructions, as though He’ll make an exception to keep us on side. I’ve realised that although God loves me more than anyone else in my life, even more than I love myself, God isn’t going to violate His principles for me. He’ll root for me, make His grace lavishly available for me, to demonstrate His willingness to make our my life extraordinary [Ephesians 1:8, 1 Peter 2:9]. But my ability to leverage that grace to experience a glorious life depends on my knowledge of God and His principles [2 Peter 1:2]. Irrespective of our opinions, there’s only one way to receive from God, and that’s His way.
As I mentioned last week, receiving anything from God involves agreeing with Him about what He says about us and our circumstances and faithfully confessing it, regardless of our present reality. It’s a principle some find uncomfortable but also one I want to explore further. Sometimes, many react like Naaman because an instruction doesn’t seem sophisticated enough [2 Kings 5:11]. Or doubt because our paradigms can’t comprehend believing anything other than what we see. Occasionally, we make statements like: “I’m just saying it as it is” or “That doesn’t make sense”. We may even go as far as insisting that God changes our reality first, and then we’ll agree with Him. But that wouldn’t be faith. I realised recently that the Bible says faith precedes understanding [Hebrews 11:3]. There’s value in understanding God’s principles, but we’ll shortchange ourselves if we insist they must make sense to us before we accept and apply them.
In the cauldron of our daily challenges, it can be difficult to believe God’s promises concerning us, let alone confess them in faith. I find comfort in recognising that God instructs us to call those things that aren’t as though they were, not to call things that are as if they are not. The distinction may be subtle, but it’s significant for our Christian walk. For instance, if I have a need, declaring in faith that God will meet that need according to His glorious riches is different from telling myself or others that it doesn’t exist. One is a biblical confession, and the other is a lie. Faith in God doesn’t deny reality. It simply advocates that God’s word can change any reality contrary to His will. However, as Christians, we must know God’s will and believe that God will keep His word irrespective of our current reality. That confidence should be the basis of our confession, but arriving at such a conviction is a process – we build up to it [Jude 1:20]
As mentioned, understanding God’s principle isn’t necessary to experience its manifestation. However, I’ve found it helpful to reflect on the stories of Abraham, Zechariah and Mary as they relate to confessing and believing God’s word. All three received incredible promises from God and had relatable challenges believing what they heard. The events in Genesis 15 and 16 capture some of Abraham’s struggles with his desire for an heir. But in the context of this week’s blog, I find the implications of Genesis 17, where God changes his name from Abram to Abraham, fascinating. Abram means exalted father, a befitting name for the head of a considerably large household and a benefactor to the community. While the name implies he was widely respected, it’s likely some people mocked or sympathised with him because he was childless. So, imagine their surprise when, still childless at 99, he announced his new name, Abraham, which means father of nations.
It was probably awkward for Abraham to call himself father of nations without an heir, but he persisted, never denying he and Sarah were past child-bearing age [Romans 4:17-21]. Some may have ridiculed them; well-meaning acquaintances may have even suggested that the new name was dishonest or unhinged from reality. Nevertheless, Abraham knew that you can’t lie if you’re declaring what God said. I believe Abraham’s faith grew stronger whenever he heard his name [Romans 10:17]. Zechariah, on the other hand, suggested to the angel that he and Elizabeth were too old for what God was proposing [Luke 1:18]. It was a doubt-induced response. Abraham had no reference for his miracle, but Zechariah did, and if he’d kept giving God reasons why he couldn’t become a father, he could’ve hindered God’s plans, so the angel intervened [Luke 1:19-20]. As Christians, we must learn to guard our words even when struggling to believe God’s promises. If God said it, it cannot be a lie [Roman 3:4]. Isn’t it fascinating that God made Zechariah whole as soon as he agreed with Him [Luke 1:57-64]?
Zechariah’s story demonstrates that one of the barriers to receiving God’s blessings is an inch below the nose [Proverbs 21:23]. However, Mary, who arguably received the most incredible promise of the three, provides the ideal response to a word from God. Crucially, she showed that it’s okay to say: “Lord, I don’t understand”. I believe Mary was none the wiser when the angel explained how her pregnancy would occur. Yet, convinced that nothing was impossible for God, she agreed with the angel [Luke 1:37-38].
Like Mary, don’t argue with the word. Even if you don’t understand how it will manifest, let your confidence rest in the One who has staked His integrity on keeping His word because He’s already proven Himself faithful. It’s not a lie if it comes from God. So, confess it boldly, confident you’ll see the manifestation, just like Abraham, Zechariah and Mary [John 14:13-14].