"Getting Positive Results" (February 2006)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12) “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 10:15-18) While Jesus was on earth He told His disciples that they would do greater works than He did. Before He left the earth and was taken into heaven He gave His disciples a commission to do those works. That commission was not just for the disciples that were there and heard Him speak, it is a commission that is still for His disciples today. Those who follow Christ and adhere to His teachings are His disciples. Therefore, we also have been given this same commission.
The disciples in the early church fulfilled the commission. They laid hands on the sick; they cast out demons; they did the same works that Jesus did and saw the same results that Jesus saw- blind eyes received sight, deaf ears opened, the dead were raised, diseases were healed. I have a question, “If Jesus did these works with positive results, and the early church did those same works and had positive results, why is it that we aren’t seeing the same things happen today with the same results?” We have the same commission, we have been given the same power to fulfill the commission that Jesus had and that the early church had, God hasn’t changed His mind, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, so what is the difference? Why is it that when we pray for the sick they don’t recovery- in most cases they die instead? Why is it that people leave our church services week after week with the same diseases? Why is it that those who are suffering can come into the presence of a believer (disciple) and then leave the same way- still suffering; especially since Jesus told us to do the these works? “And these signs shall follow them that believe...” (Mark 16:17a)
Does it ever bother you that the present day church isn’t seeing the same results the early church did? Does it ever frustrate you when you pray and pray for someone to recover and they don’t? Do you ever wonder what’s the problem? Why isn’t it happening? Why don’t we see it? I know that there are miracles that happen all around us, and there have been many wonderful testimonies of the answer to prayer and God’s healing power- I gave a testimony in the last newsletter of how the Lord healed my daughter and kept her from having to have surgery. But as a whole we aren’t seeing these things happen; they aren’t the “norm” like they were in the day of Jesus and the early church.
This month I would like to address what I believe is one of the main reasons why we aren’t seeing more “positive” results to our prayers. Before I do, I would like to say that I don’t have all the answers. In addressing the reason I am going to address I also need to say that sometimes there are other factors that are involved- not everything is “cut and dry”- but I do believe that we will see that the reason I am going to discuss is at the “root” of our lack of seeing positive results.
When Jesus came to earth, He had a commission. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38) Did He fulfill His commission? “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30) Yes, He did. Since He’s the one who gave us the commission and since He accomplished His, we need to look at what He did and follow His example. “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15) “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
As we look at the life of Jesus, our perfect example, we have to ask ourselves some questions like, “Why did Jesus do what He did? How did He know when to do what? Why did He make clay out of spit and place on the eyes of a blind man and he was healed (John 9:6), but He spoke to blind Bartimaeus and he was healed? (Mark 10:52) Why did He only heal one man at the pool of Bethesda and there were many other people there who needed healing? (John 5) Why did He go immediately with Jairus when He was asked to go to the house and heal his daughter (Mark 5), but when He was called to the house of Lazarus to heal him he waited four days? (John 11,12) How did He know that is was time to go through Samaria? (John 4:4)” The questions could go on and on, but what is the answer. What did Jesus do to get positive results?
Most people would argue, “Well, that’s Jesus. Naturally, His prayers would get answered.” Let me ask you this, “If He got positive results because of who He is- because He’s Jesus, the Son of God- then why would He expect us to do the same things He did and get the same results if it weren’t possible? After all, when He gave us this commission don’t you think He expected us to fulfill it? Jesus gave us a commission, He gave us everything that we need to fulfill it, and He left us an example to follow so we could accomplish what He told us to do.
Everything that is accomplished is accomplished by faith. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20) “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19) “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” (Luke 18:42) “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matthew 15:28) “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29) “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” (Acts 6:8) “The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.” (Acts 14:9,10) The key to fulfilling the commission, to having your prayers answered, to seeing positive results is faith.
The problem with most of us is we don’t have faith (a confident belief). We don’t know what God’s will is. That’s why when we pray, we pray, “If it be Thy will.” (When we don’t know for sure what His will is, that’s exactly what we should pray.) But faith Knows! Most of what we have in Christianity is not faith, it’s “assumption” or “hope”. Too many times we pray prayers or say things that we are hoping will happen or that we assume God will do. That’s why we aren’t seeing more of the “greater works” being done.
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38) Jesus was anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the works. Too many Christians are trying to do the works without the “power”. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8- NAS) We do the “works” when/after the Holy Spirit has come upon us. Trying to do the works without the power of the Holy Spirit is like trying to start a car without a battery; or turning on a light without electricity and expecting it to burn.
Not only was Jesus anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, He was able to do the works because “God was with Him”. (If God’s not your “partner” in what you are doing, then you can’t do it.) Jesus had faith that God was working with Him- He didn’t just assume He was. When Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and called him back from the dead, Jesus didn’t just hope it would happen; He didn’t assume God would raise Him from the dead; He didn’t “try” it to see if it would work; Jesus knew when He told them to remove the stone and called for Lazarus to come forth that Lazarus was going to come forth. How did He know? How did He have this kind of faith? How did He know that God was actually going to raise Lazarus when He called him to come out of the tomb? How did Jesus know that God was working with Him? “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19) “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) How did He know the Father was working with Him? Because He knew what He was doing was the Father’s will. How did He know that? Because He had “seen” and “heard” what the Father did and said and that’s what He did and said. Jesus knew it was the Father’s will to raise Lazarus from the dead because He had heard the Father say it was so He cooperated with the Father and acted on what He had said- not on assumption. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41,42) Jesus had heard the Father say that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, so He followed the Father’s instructions and did what He told Him to do. That’s one of the places where our problem lies. We don’t hear what the Father says or follow His instructions. We do what we “think” we should do. We try to reason out the situation and move accordingly- according to our own carnal, fleshly, flawed, finite thinking. We act out of sympathy, pity, assumption, hope, frustration, and desperation and then expect God to show up and bless what we are doing when He never told us to do it.
If the main problem is that we are operating in assumption instead of operating in faith, then what do we have to do to change it and “get faith”? How does faith come? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ (Romans 10:17) Back to our example Jesus. He never did anything on His own or assumed He knew what the Father wanted Him to do; He always knew. How did He know? Because He heard the Father tell Him what to do, therefore, He acted in faith and got positive results.
We need to learn to “hear from God”. We need to know what He is or isn’t saying- His will. If we don’t know, how can we act in faith? It has been said, “Faith begins where the will of God is known.” This is why we are lacking in faith- we don’t know the will of God because we haven’t heard Him say what it is. If you don’t know what the will of God is, how are you going to have faith? If you don’t have faith you can pray, fast, and cry and it still won’t happen. You’ll be praying what I call “hit and miss prayers”. Jesus never “missed” at anything He did because He knew exactly what to do because He had heard from the Father. He always “hit the mark.”
Some may say, “But the Bible tells us what the will of God is so all we have to do is act upon it.” This is true; the Bible is the will of God. It tells us what God can do, it tells us what He desires to do, what He has made available, what He has given to us, Who He is, what His nature and character is like, how we ought to live, how to have abundant life, etc. But it “generalizes”- it tells us that “by His stripes we are healed”. (1 Peter 2:24) It tells us that healing is God’s will for us and it has been provided by the stripes that Jesus Christ took on His back in Pilate’s judgment hall. But it’s the “specifics” that we are having trouble with. Jesus knew the Father wanted to heal the blind (that’s general), but He had to hear from the Father about the “specifics”. How did He want to do it- make clay and put on his eyes and he’ll be healed, speak the word and he’ll see, cast out a devil and sight will be restored? (It’s all about receiving instructions from the Lord.) Think about it, Jesus, the apostles, the early church didn’t have the New Testament to go by- they had to hear from God through times of prayer and by being led by the Holy Spirit.
How do we get this kind of faith? How do we get to the place where we know our prayers are answered, when we lay hands on the sick they will be healed, and what we do will have positive results? We have to hear what the Father is saying in the situation then do what He tells us to do. It’s not about doing what we want to do or seeing what we want to see happen; it’s all about what HE wants. After all, He is the Healer, the Deliverer, the One who does the work and makes it happen. I am just a vessel that He works through- I don’t make it happen, and it won’t if He isn’t “working with me”. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) God is not obligated to back you up on anything He hasn’t told you to do. Now, if He tells you to do it, then He has to back it up because He is faithful to His word and not a man that He should lie. It’s about us “working together”- Him working with me, and me working with Him. He’s the “brain” that tells the “hand” what to do. In the church, the “hands” need to quit going off on their own and doing things that the “brain” has not told them to do. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22,23)
The great “Faith Chapter” (Hebrews 11) deals with the subject of people in the Bible who operated in faith. As you look at the life of each one, they operated in faith after they had heard the Lord “say” something. “By faith Noah, being warned of God. By faith Abraham, when he was called.” (verses 7,8) The list continues but they each one acted upon what they had already heard from God.
Back to the question, how do we fulfill the commission He has given us? We fulfill it by faith. The faith that we need comes through hearing what God is saying, from hearing His instructions, and doing it His way in each individual situation. Jesus didn’t assume that just because the Father healed one man one way He was going to heal them all the same way. He heard the “specifics”- we have to too. The problem isn’t that God doesn’t want to do it, or that He doesn’t want to tell us what His will is, the problem is in us- we aren’t willing to do what it takes in order for us to hear what His will is. We have to be willing to hear and sometimes that involves waiting on the Lord and in His presence long enough. So many times we will pray about a situation but we won’t pray until we have the answer. We aren’t willing to “be still” long enough for the Lord to talk to us. We pray “jack rabbit” prayers and don’t have the faintest idea what the Lord’s will is about the situation. Take a lesson from the Old Testament saints. Jacob wrestled with the Lord all night and would not let Him go until He blessed him. (Genesis 28) Hannah did not stop praying until Eli the priest came and told her she would have her petition- she would get pregnant with Samuel. (1 Samuel 1) In the New Testament the woman with the issue of blood didn’t give up in pressing through the crowd to get to Jesus until she had touched his hem and received her healing. (Matthew 9) Jesus would get up early in the morning to seek the Father so that He would know what His will was for Him that day. (Mark 1:35) He would often pray all night. (Luke 6:12) He would even leave the crowds and go to a solitary place to pray. (Mark 1:35) If this is the way Jesus did it, if this is how He got to the place where He had positive results in fulfilling the work the Lord had for Him to do, then what makes us think that we can get it any other way? What makes us think that there are “short cuts” or that it’s just going to happen?
Let me share a story that I heard years ago that really made an impression on me. There was a young boy who was stumped by a horse. His leg was badly mangled and the bones were broken in numerous places. His father took him in the house and begin to pray for him (this was before the days that you ran to the doctor for everything). The father prayed for his son’s leg to be healed, and he prayed and prayed and three hours later the son got up off of the couch and walked on both legs as he always had. The leg was
completely healed- the young boy didn’t even have a limp. Years passed and the boy grew and joined the army. When he took his physical, the physician asked him when he had a broken leg. The boy was so young when it happened that he barely remembered it. The x-rays showed that there had been multiple breaks and fractures to the bone at some time. The doctor then said that he wanted to meet the surgeon because the bones were put back together so perfectly- you could barely see where the breaks had been. The point of the story is this- that father was willing to do what he had to do, he didn’t give up and continued to pray until He heard from God and knew what His will was one way or the other.
The Lord has commissioned us to do His work and has provided everything we need to accomplish it. But we are going to have to come to the place where we will be still long enough and seek Him until we “know” what He is saying. Then when we go out to do the work, we won’t be confused or powerless because we are going in faith not on assumption. Therefore, we won’t be disappointed and discouraged because it didn’t happen, God will be glorified, and lives will be touched and changed by His power. We will be fulfilling the commission with positive results.