"Putting God In The Equation" (November 2007)
As many of you know I conduct a church service once a week at the drug and alcohol recovery center. The clients are told that they need to stay in the church services because the “spiritual” aspect is as much a part of their recovery as any of the other things that they are doing while there. Personally, I believe that it is the most important part because there is no recovery or deliverance without the Lord. “He who the SON sets free is free indeed.” (John 8:36) The Lord is the One who destroys yokes, breaks bondages, sets captives free and opens prison doors to those who are bound. Anything else is equivalent to “turning over a ‘new leaf’”, but it is not freedom or deliverance. The clients aren’t required to stay in the church service, it is elective-- many do, some don’t. It grieves me when they don’t stay because as I have said earlier, the spiritual end is the most important-- without Jesus there is no freedom, no deliverance. If they truly want to be set free, if they truly want to be delivered, if they truly want to live a life free from addiction, they cannot neglect the spiritual part. What I tell them is, “If you are going to walk in freedom, have victory over these addictions, live an abundant life, fulfill the plan, purpose and destiny that the Lord has for you... you can’t leave God out of the equation.” They can’t do this by themselves.
This doesn’t only apply to those in recovery centers who are trying to get deliverance from life controlling substances, it applies to all of us. None of us can make it through life if we leave God “out of the picture”. It’s not just “me”, it’s “God and me” that makes the difference in my life. I have to put God in the equation of my life if I am going to prosper, be successful or live the life that the Lord intends for me to live. This is why the scriptures, when referring to me (mankind), also refer to God. “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) The only reason that I am able to rejoice today is because God made the day, and if He made if, He is certainly able to handle whatever may arise in my life today. God has to be in the equation today, because without Him, I have no reason to rejoice. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) There is no way that I can resist the devil if I leave God out of the equation. I must first submit myself to God, then I can resist the devil. God has to be in the equation because I have no power to resist on my own. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) The verse didn’t say that I can do all things- I can’t do it by myself, I can do nothing without Him-- in Him I live, move and have my being. (Acts 17:28) I have to put God in the equation, then I can do all things, then nothing shall be impossible for me (Matthew 17:20) because I am strengthened by Him.
I become more and more amazed at the number of people who leave the Lord out of the equation when it comes to their salvation. We are living in a time when people are depending on their church affiliation to save them. You would not believe how many people that when asked if they are saved, or if they know Jesus as their Savior, their answer is, “I attend such and such church”. Or “I am a member of this particular church”. Church attendance and church membership does not save you. You can have your name on every church membership role in the United States and still not be saved.
Others are depending on their “good deeds” to save them. You can give offerings to the church, you can sing in the choir, you can even teach a Sunday School class, you can feed the hungry, visit the sick, etc., but it won’t save you. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.“ (Ephesians 2:8,9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5) Again, in these scriptures, it’s clear that God has to be in the equation if we are going to be saved-- it’s His gift, it’s His mercy, His regeneration, His renewing... not our works... not by us alone. If we are trying to be saved any other way than through Jesus Christ, we are leaving Him out of the equation, therefore, we will not be saved. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
There is nothing that we can do by ourselves-- apart from and without God. Without Him, we wouldn’t even be here. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3) “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16,17)
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) There is a reason why we are told to acknowledge God in all our ways, it’s because we can’t make it without Him. We can’t direct our own steps. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Neither do we have the wisdom to know which way is the right way. When anointed to be king over Israel, Solomon prayed for God’s wisdom so that he would be able to rule the people. He knew that he could not leave God out of the equation or he would not be a good king. “And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (1 Kings 3:5,7-9) None of us have the ability to see ahead and know what the outcome of our decision will be, but God does. By acknowledging Him in our decisions, we are bringing Him into the equation. When we do, He promises to make our crooked ways straight, the dark places light, we’ll be anointed to hear His instructions telling us which way to go, and He will rightly divide our path before us so that we will make the right choice.
Let’s look in the Bible for examples of those who put God in the equation and those who didn’t-- and the outcome. When the children of Israel were ready to go into the promised land, the first city they faced was Jericho. If you’ve read the story, you know that Jericho was a really large city that was well protected by a huge wall. The city looked impenetrable and impossible for Israel to defeat. As Joshua sought the Lord, He gave him instructions. “Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:1-5) As the children of Israel were obedient to carry out God’s instructions, He brought the walls down and they destroyed the city. Because they put God in the equation the outcome was victory. Let’s stay in the Book of Joshua and read about the next city they encountered after Jericho. The city was Ai. It was a small city. “And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.” (Joshua 7:2,3) Because the city was so small, and they had just won a great victory over the larger city of Jericho, they didn’t see the need to acknowledge God. They left Him out of the equation because they thought that they could handle this one by themselves. “So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” (Joshua 7:4,5) Were they ever wrong! The men of Ai began to defeat the Israelites so they had to retreat. It wasn’t until after they were being defeated that they brought God into the equation by seeking Him for the answer. “And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!” (Joshua 7:6,7) Of course, God in His mercy revealed the problem to them and they later went against the city again and defeated it. There are several lessons that we can learn from the defeat of these two cities. First, it doesn’t matter how big or small the problem is, we need God. We can never think that we can make if independent of Him. It doesn’t matter how many victories we have had, we still need Him in each battle. It doesn’t matter how some a thing may be, we can never have the idea that it’s in our ability to take care of it. Never think that it’s too small and you don’t want to bother God with it. Ai was small, but they still lost the first battle. Secondly, when we leave God out of the equation we make a mess of things.
When Joshua sought the Lord as to why they were defeated at Ai, the Lord showed him that it was because Achan had stolen some things from Jericho, which was in direct disobedience to what God had said. This was hid from Joshua and all the others but not from God. He sees everything, He knows everything... we don’t. If Joshua had put God in the equation by seeking Him before they went up against Ai, the outcome would have been different. They let pride get in the way. It was known that the king of Jericho, the inhabitants and the surrounding nations were all afraid of the Israelites. They thought that since they were feared by the inhabitants of the land and had already defeated this very large, very popular, very well fortified city they were well able to destroy such a small place. We should never make the same mistake they did. Just because you may have experienced some victories in the past, doesn’t mean that you can tackle the next one by yourself. You need to seek the Lord before you make that step. Your ability, your education, your strength, your wealth has nothing to do with it. You will never be educated enough, strong enough, wealthy enough, etc., to do it without God. You need Him... I need Him. No matter what the endeavor may be, whether it seems big or small, whether it’s freedom from an addiction, guidance and direction, even if it looks like it’s something you can handle, you still need God.
David is another example. He faced a lion, a bear and a giant. Have you? Are there any lions in your life? It’s those things that intimidate and threaten to devour you. It’s also those things that come your way with a deafening “roar”. They roar so loudly that it is hard to hear anything else. Pain, grief and heartache all roar loudly. What about bears? Have any bears in your life? Bears may look “cuddly” but they are deadly. They may seem “warm and fuzzy” but their goal is to hurt or even kill you. It’s those things that seem innocent on the surface but will destroy you. Many relationships are like that. They seem “genuine” on the surface, but really aren’t. This is why you have to have God in the equation where your relationships are concerned, especially those that are “until death do us part”. Even Jezebel looked “attractive” on the outside! How about giants? Have you faced any giants? The truth is that we all face lions, bears, mountains, giants, fiery furnaces, valleys and so on. Do you face them alone or with God? David did not face them alone, this is why he was victorious when he faced each one. “And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” (1 Samuel 17:32-37) David put God in the equation. He knew that by himself he was no match for the lion, or the bear, or the giant Goliath. He knew that it was God who gave him the victory over the lion and the bear. He also knew that when he went out to face the giant that he wasn’t big enough, strong enough, or skilled enough to defeat him. “And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands.” (vv. 40-42, 45-47) David didn’t face Goliath alone, he brought God into the equation and the Lord gave him the victory.
I don't know what you may be facing today, perhaps you are in a valley of decision, perhaps you are battling an illness, maybe your heart is heavy, maybe you don’t know Jesus as Savior, maybe you are seeking for God’s direction in a particular area, whatever it may be, you cannot face it on your own you have to bring God into the equation. When you do, you will always come out the winner.