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When The Answer Is Denied Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 2, 2021 1:00 am

When The Answer Is Denied Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 2, 2021 1:00 am

“Why should I bother praying when God doesn’t seem to answer?” Have you ever begged God to remove a difficulty in your life? Paul did, and the Lord said “no.” It’s tough taking “no” for an answer. But there are times when the answer to a believer’s prayer is a clear “no.” You have a choice: these times can either make you resentful or they can increase your faith. In this message, you’ll learn how to respond when God answers in the negative.  

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Rain forests looking to Jesus and perfecter of our it's tough taking no for an answer, but there are times when the answer to believers in prayer is a clear no. We have a choice these times can either make us resentful or they can increase our faith today how to respond when God answers in the negative from the Moody Church in Chicago. This is going to win with Dr. when Sir whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line looks are is it safe to say that when no answer comes at all that God is saying no Dave, I really do think that we have to face the reality of the fact that some times God is saying no and no means no, I'm reminded, for example of Moses who cried up to God, wanting to get into the land and God said no and he kept crying to God, can I go into the land and finally we read in the book of Deuteronomy that God says, expressly don't ask me about this again, the answer is no. But as we will discover in this message. God doesn't leave us there. He gives us his presence, his promise and he helps us through those difficult patches. You know were so thankful for the many of you who support the ministry of running to win. It's because of you that we are heard in so many different countries of the world would you consider becoming an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Of course you need more info. Here's what you can do. Go to RT W that's RTW Click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337 and now let us listen and be encouraged about the experience of one man to whom God said no. Ask people why they don't pray seriously and why prayer isn't really that big a part in their lives. I believe that 90 or 95% would say it's because of unanswered prayer. That's the reason.

It can happen even when you're small little a little girl prayed that the doll that was in her arms would become a real baby and when that didn't happen. She was disappointed with God.

Aren't you glad that God often doesn't give us what we ask for the teenager who prays that his teeth will be straightened out so they won't have to wear braces and then discovers that God doesn't answer begins to think well what is there to this business of prayer, but usually, of course, the issue is much more severe and much greater it has to do with a young mother dying of cancer.

It has to do with Johnny Erickson tied up in a diving accident in the late 60s existing for 40 years by now I'm sure in a wheelchair. That's what it has to do with has to do with families and abuse send all of those things, but at the end of the day, people would say it's because God doesn't answer prayer. Why should I bother. While there's a very interesting and famous on answered prayer in second Corinthians 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 that I want you to turn to. And if you didn't bring your Bible there's one there in the pew that you might be able to use this is not first Corinthians, this is second Corinthians chapter 12, the apostle Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he was caught up to paradise and Darren paradise. God gave him specific revelations that were wonderful and great. In fact, Paul says I heard the things that I'm not even going to tell you about how different he is from some of the folks that we see from time to time on TV who would only be too quick to tell you what new revelation they received. Paul says them that I had this experience.

He's talking about himself in the opening verses. He says 14 years ago I was caught up to the third heaven. Verse two. I don't know whether I was in the body or out of the body. I know that this man was caught up into paradise. And he says in verse four he heard things that cannot be told which a man may not utter so the apostle Paul says that in light of this, I received so many revelations and of course, he wrote 13 or 14 books of the New Testament book of Hebrews is disputed as to who the author is but Paul wrote a good part of the New Testament. And Paul says that if if I were to tell people of the revelation and if they know that I am that to me. This revelation is given they are going to honor me so much and when they honor me so much.

I'm going to be tempted to begin to think that I'm special and so God says Paul what I'm going to do is to give you a thorn in the flesh to keep you humble. That's why we pick up the text in verse seven and I'm going to read. So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations up for and was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me but he said my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly because of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ and I'm content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Don't you want to say wow after reading that couple of introductory questions.

First of all, what is this thorn in the flesh. The Greek word's collapses. What is it what is the thorn well it's a stake and it was the kind of stake you know upon which people were impaled was a horrendous way to die. This leads people to think that maybe the thorn was a physical ailment may be an eye problem. There is some indication that Paul had problems with his eyes maybe malaria which evidently brings a pain to your head. It's like someone taking a hot iron bar and just pressing it against your four head. Someone has said maybe it was malaria.

John MacArthur goes to great lengths to try to show that actually the thorn in the flesh was very probably a false apostle indwelt by a messenger of Satan, namely a demon who stirred up opposition against Paul.

So the thorn in the flesh is not defined to so that we can insert our own born into that particular slot so the thorn may be a health problem. The thorn also may be a person. I hope it's not the one whom you married, but it could be a person and we've all known what it is like from time to time to having people who are thorns in the flesh.

Paul gives us a lot of latitude.

He says I'm content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities that pretty well covers what the thorn might be now. Normally we don't vote here at the Moody church as to what I say I simply assume that you accept what I say. I hope that it's biblical and if you disagree with me, that's no problem. You come up later and you have the opportunity to ask my forgiveness for disagreeing with me, but today we are going to vote.

Let me ask you this question was that how many of you would say that the thorn was from Satan. Raise your hand. How many of you would say the thorn is from Satan. How many of you would say that the thorn was from God.

Raise your hands even more hands for that.

How many of you have no opinion at all about theological matters. Now here is the most important question how many of you raised your hand twice saying that it was both from Satan and from God. Could I see your hands place your the theologians you're the theologians of course it's both the immediate because the text says was a messenger of Satan but the ultimate cause is God. It was given to me of God to have a thorn in the flesh. If you don't understand the relationship between God and Satan.

In these kinds of trials. You're never going to be able to exercise the kind of faith that you need the kind of faith that I'm going to describe at the end of this message, just like Joe was his trial from God or the devil. Well, it is the devil, who did all of the terrible things to his family, etc. but what does Job say the Lord to Gabe and those lore are that took away because the ultimate cause is God.

Satan cannot wiggle unless God gives them permission to wiggle and therefore this thorn was from God will now let's look at the prayer itself. The prayer itself. First of all, the specific request. I'm here in verse eight he says in verse 83 times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me what we say about this request. First of all, it was very specific. God, you have given this to me whether it's a person or a health issue, you've given it to me Lord and I ask that it might leave me for your glory and God you'll get all the credit all talk about you as a result of this, you will receive in the glory Jewett, Lord was specific it was persistent.

I pleaded with the Lord.

Same word that's used in the New Testament for people who came to Jesus, wanting to be healed and they played with Jesus to be healed.

Paul says I am pleading with God.

Take it away. The first two times God said nothing dead silence from heaven, but then the third time, after praying the third time God spoke to the apostle Paul and gave him the reply and the reply. In effect, was Paul. The answer is no. Now God didn't say that directly but God clearly said that that you will keep the thorn but that's not the end of the story. That's not the end of the story, God never leaves us stranded. He never leaves us without what we needed to endure a trial.

Now notice what God says. He says my grace. I'm in verse nine. Now is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. God says Paul, I've got something else for you. I've got grace, grace.

Paul thinks to himself, surely there's a misunderstanding I asked you Lord very clearly we laid this on the line that my thorn was to leave God says keep your thorn, but I have grace and grace is heavenly strength for the need of the moment. Grace is a river that runs to the soul that brings healing grace is the river that runs to the soul and also provides columnists and a sense of acceptance and hope and even gladness. As Paul says he has after the answer. Grace is indeed a given to us. God says I am going to take grace and it's going to be like an elastic band that is going to stretch over your thorn and over your difficulty in such a way that you are going to be able to endure it.

That's what I'm going to give you instead. Grace is a wonderful pillow upon which many a weary traveler has laid his head so God says that I'm going to give you grace and I'm going to give you strength, my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.

My power is completed.

Paul if people want to honor me and give me glory. You have to be weak, and so I sent you this thorn so that when you are weak. Then my power will be displayed and my strength will be made complete. Now, when I was out on the farm many years ago when I grew up as a child we used to actually use the catalog. People don't use catalogs nowadays, but we still order things and it would send the order away in a few weeks later it would come back and sometimes the company would substitute something. For example, if you ordered a sweater and they were out of sweaters.

They might send you a light jacket and hope that you are satisfied with the substitution they usually did not say we won't fill the order. They filled it with something else and God is saying to the apostle Paul. Here he saying I am saying no to your request, but I'm giving you something else. I am not indifferent to my answer. When God says no it isn't just plain know, it's always no. But there's something else that I have in mind.

Grace is going to be given to I think of Johnny Erickson, to whom I referred earlier this young woman has blessed millions. Many of you know about her because she has Johnny and friends in that marvelous ministry and she's been here to the Moody church many times and you member in that diving accident, there she is, she becomes a quadriplegic and after it happened is just a college student. She wanted to die. She hoped and bagged that people would give her some kind of pills so that she could commit suicide and get out of her misery, but nobody did. And so she went on the living and then because she was a Christian she learned that there were those who believed in faith healing. She attended the faith healing service. She attended these with hope and encouragement from friends and the passage of Scripture that she zeroed in on more particularly than any other was the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John, where Jesus heals the paralytic that was there along the pool I the pool of Bethesda and he was there for 38 years, and Jesus comes along and says, take up your pallet and walk back was her passage.

But even though she had faith even though this was her passage that she would be healed.

The healing never came.

One time at founders week a few years ago she was here at the church and she told this story and I could not even keep back the tears she said recently I was in Israel. This is now 40 years later, 35 or 40 years later, she said I was in Israel and she said I went and I was wheeled next to the pool of Bethesda and she said when I looked at that pool. I thanked God that he had not healed me in those 35 years because of all the grace and because of all the ministry. He gave me as a result of my infirmity, God says Johnny I'm not can heal you just leave you there hopelessly. I am going to give you grace. I think of a family that has a child with a huge disability. I won't even describe it to you. It's not just a normal disability but far beyond that and how these parents lovingly take care of the child in exasperation and they watch the child suffer.

But there's nothing they can do for that suffering they the best of medical care you so pastor Luther do you have the grace to would you have the grace to look after child like that I don't have that kind of grace. I don't, but hear me carefully. If God had given us a child like that. I believe that God would've supplied the grace grace comes in the midst of our need and God says Paul. The answer is no, but it isn't a harsh, uncaring know it is grace that I am giving you. So what is Paul's response. Now we look to the request.

We looked at the reply.

What is Paul's response. He says in the middle of verse nine. Now therefore I will boast all the more because of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. He says if I received grace.

I also receive power, I accepted this survey course I've not experienced with the apostle Paul did thorn in the flesh is what he experienced. But I have experienced a great deal of grace today. My heart is so filled with gratitude toward the Lord because as you have perhaps already heard me say at some point there seems to be no connection between my humble beginnings on a farm in Canada and all the opportunities that God has given me. I am so grateful to God for the opportunity of sharing the gospel in so many different ways in so many different countries running to win is heard in 20 different countries in three different languages. Just imagine all throughout the Middle East.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared in Arabic, Central and South America more than 100 stations in Spanish.

You know why it's because people like you have supported this ministry, would you consider becoming an endurance partner you know endurance partners are not merely those who give financially, but they stand with his spiritually in heart and mind and we are so deeply grateful for them. Of course you need info so I hope you have an opportunity to write this down. Go to RTW that's RTW and when you're there you want to click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because it is so important for you to have the opportunity to say yes we will stand with running to win.

Here's what you do go to RTW Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337 again when you ask ask questions you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question comes to us from Texas from Christina. She writes I feel I am very ineffective at prayer in just a few days ago a passage of Scripture struck me in a way that gave me pause. I was reading in Matthew chapter 21 in this verse jumped out at me. Truly I say to you.

If you have faith and do not doubt you will say to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive.

If you have faith. I know God can do anything, but I doubt because I also know that he does only what he wants. That is what is divine will is I'm not so bold as to presume that my prayer will change his mind.

I've been praying for someone who was seriously ill because I don't know God's will. My prayer is vague if it's not God's will for this person to be healed, then he won't be healed, no matter how much I pray it seems to me like a self-defeating circle. Well Christina, I've been sitting here listening as Dave McAllister is been reading your question to me and wondering exactly how to answer because I could give you a very long answer to many excellent questions that you've embedded in your letter, but just a couple of comments. First of all, when Jesus said if you have faith you can move this mountain from here to there. Obviously, he is using hyperbole he just means to say that faith can do mighty things, and why is it that he goes on to say that if we ask in faith without doubting will receive it well. In cases like that.

It appears to me that God shares with us what he intends to do and therefore when we begin to pray we are, in effect, praying his will back to him. There are instances like this in Scripture, and of course at a time like that you can really pray in faith because God is granting you the faith and the ability to know that this is his will. Now the other question regarding your friend who's sick and the whole matter of the will of God.

There times when we don't know God's will, and we can't pray with great faith that God is going to heal someone, but we should pray for that person and we should commit them to God in something like Jesus in Gethsemane. Father, if it is your will let this cup pass from me.

Nevertheless, not as I will but is you will. That's the bottom line for every growing Christian let God's will be done, but we do bring our petitions to him like the apostle Paul says very clearly.

He says you know that we come before God we bring our cares before him, and the peace of God which passes all understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ and therefore we should come with all of our petitions, but there's finally I do need to add this you say that you would not presume that you could change God's mind will that might be true because that we don't know what God's mind is but remember this Christina prayer changes things.

It may not change God's mind in the sense that you and I think of it, not prayer changes things your prayer might under the divine will of God make a huge and lasting difference.

Keep praying.

Keep praying. Keep seeking and you'll grow in faith. And who knows but you may even see some miracles.

Thank you Dr. Luther if you'd like to hear your question answered. You can go to our and click on ask Pastor lutes or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 when Christians find themselves in need, they naturally pray for God to provide. If the answer is no, how we then react is crucial.

Even the know answers are still answers God is fully aware of our needs and what's best for us next time I'm running to win why our faith can grow even when the answer is no. Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin looks or this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church

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