Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When God chooses to not answer our prayers, we may think He's forgotten us, when in fact He may have more in store for us than we've ever dreamed. That was the case for David, whose prayer to build a temple was denied. Instead, God would build an eternal kingdom. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. We're in a ten-part series through the life of King David. Pastor Lutzer, in our look at conflict with unanswered prayer, we've seen God giving David new promises, a new intimacy, and a new project. Yes, it is so important for us to recognize that God does not simply say no and leave us there.
He gives us a substitute, and no matter what that substitute might be, it always includes new intimacy and, of course, fellowship with Him. Let me ask you a question. Many of you who listen to Running to Win regularly, you perhaps have missed some of the messages in this series. The series is entitled, Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. I believe that it would be a great blessing if you were to have this series in permanent form so that you can listen to it again and again, share it with your friends. For a gift of any amount, we're making it available. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Here's something else that God gave David that day. God gave him new intimacy, new intimacy, in a new relationship with Him. You'll notice it says in verse 18, Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me thus far? And yet this was insignificant in thine eyes, O Lord God, for thou hast spoken also of the house of thy servant concerning the distant future. Verse 22, Thou art great, O Lord, for there is none like thee, and there is no God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And David spills out before the Lord his own heart, and he and God are closer than they have ever been. You know, sometimes when God says no, here's what he does. He says, Look, I'm not going to fulfill that desire that you're asking about, but I am going to give you the fulfillment of another desire which is even more basic, which is even more necessary, and that is a need for myself. Because at the end of the day, that is always, always our greatest need.
As George McDonald says, you know, a child runs away and then comes home because he's hungry, but he needs his mother more than he does his supper. And I want you to know today that our great abiding need is always for God. You know, in biblical times, it was an agricultural society, so people would pray and they would ask God for a good crop, just like we used to do on the farm, too. You need a good crop?
Yeah, you've got bills to pay, and I know that during the harvest, it's such a time of rejoicing. Yet you know what it says in Psalm chapter 4, verse 7? It says that the gladness that you, O Lord, give me within my heart is greater than the grain and the new wine.
It's better than a good crop. God says, when I say no, when I say no, it's an invitation for you to draw closer to me and to know that I may say no to your request, but I'm saying yes. I'm saying yes to more intimate fellowship. You look at what people desire today and how can it be described except for pleasure, right? Isn't that what everybody lives for?
It's a good time. And there's nothing wrong with that. You know, the problem that the world has is not that it's going for pleasure. It's just that it's satisfied with such puny pleasures. They're better pleasures, pleasures at the right hand of God the Father, but there are many Christians even who know nothing of those kinds of pleasures, you see. I like what C.S.
Lewis says. He says, we are half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition. When infinite joy is offered to us like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea, we are far too easily satisfied. You want to live for pleasure? Live for pleasure.
But when you do, go for the greatest of pleasures. That is the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God. So David sits before the Lord.
He says, God, I can't believe this. I was going to do something great for you. You're doing now something for me that is far greater than my plans were for you.
Your dream for me is much bigger than my dream was for you. And I'm just going to sit before the Lord and I'm going to worship you. And you know, that's another example of intimacy that God brings about through unanswered prayer. Sometimes God even takes us and we are sick and we are laid aside because it is there on the shelf away from all the hustle and the bustle that we finally give God his due. We finally give him the time that we thought we never had when it was all going well.
Intimacy. Martha, Martha, said Jesus, thou art careful and thou are troubled about many things. But one thing is needful and that is your sister Mary is sitting here at my feet. David sitting with God.
I have to ask you, how far along are you in your Christian walk? Do you ever just plain enjoy God? You come into his presence not because you have a request, not because you absolutely need this request answered so that you might be fulfilled.
No. There are all kinds of unfulfilled desires that people have in life and they live with those unfulfilled desires, but their greatest desire is fulfilled and that is for God. But you come to enjoy him and say, God, I'm sitting in your presence and through your word and through your promises you've revealed yourself to me and I just want to tell you how great you are, how wonderful you are and I want to have some secrets that only you and I know about at the secret place of sitting in his presence. What did God say to David when he said no? He said, David, first of all, I'm going to give you some new promises. Secondly, I'm going to give you some new intimacy. And thirdly, he says, I'm going to give you a new project, a new project. In 1 Chronicles 29, we have the very interesting story of how the text tells us that David decided that though he was not permitted to build the temple, he would help Solomon build the temple by preparing all the materials.
And it says in that passage that David said, with all of my heart, Lord, I have gathered silver and I have gathered gold and I have gathered timber to prepare for someone else to do what I couldn't. Now there's an idea. You have an unanswered prayer. Why don't you get in on somebody else who is able to do what you can't and get in on their dream?
Let me put it a little more clearly. Your dream is broken, smashed. Find someone else whose dream you can help be fulfilled.
You want to go to the mission field, but you can't? Send somebody else. Be their support system. Be their prayers and their money and you help them fulfill their dream.
And God will bless you because of your servant role. You desire children. That is the great desire of your heart. You say that I just can't live with this sense of unfulfillment and God has not given you children.
Become surrogate parents. Find some other children who need you and fulfill your dream in their lives, in their lives. You want a certain vocation and God has not allowed you to have that vocation. The education that you hope that you would have has not come to you.
Find someone who is able to do perhaps what you cannot and get next to them and help them, selflessly help them fulfill your dream. And you know what God will do? He will bless you for it. He'll bless you for it. Text says in the Old Testament, if you give yourself to the needs of the hungry and if you remember the poor and if you knock yourself out for somebody else, that's a very loose Lucerian translation.
He says if you do all that, God says, then your light shall arise within your own soul and you will be blessed. God says, David, the answer is no, but you've got some new promises, new intimacy, and a new project. You can help.
You can help. What is the bottom line? Well, I think the bottom line is this, that when God says no to us, the reason that he says no is because his dream for us is greater than our dream for ourselves. He's got a better dream. Now, I know that's a tough sell. That's a tough sell.
So just grasp it in faith and hang on to it. One day, the Apostle Paul was going through a very difficult time. He said he had a scolops, that's the Greek word, a thorn in the flesh. We don't know what it was. Was it malaria? Was it bad eyesight?
Was it some people with whom he worked? I'll tell you, there are some thorns in the flesh that sometimes come about, not the ones that are on the platform I might say. I don't know what it was. But Paul says three times, he says, I prayed to the Lord and I said, oh God, remove this, remove it, remove it. Talk about a very specific prayer. God says, no answer denied. But God is not harsh. It's not as just as if he says, no out of here.
No, no, no. God says, Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. My strength is perfected in weakness. Paul says, most gladly will I therefore rather glory in my infirmity, I glory in the very thing I asked God to remove, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. You see, God's dream for Paul was a better dream than the one he had. His dream was, get me out of this. God says, I'm going to leave you in it, but I'll give you the grace to bear it and my power and my blessing will be upon you in a way that you would not have experienced if I had answered your prayer.
My dream is bigger and it is better than yours. One day there was a man sitting in prison. His name was John the Baptist.
John, God blessed John. I mean, there he is. He's telling a king what to do and telling him he's living in immorality and he gets thrown into jail. You know the whole story. And here he is. And dungeons in those days were not like the prison systems in Illinois.
I'll tell you, they were terrible. And there he is in jail and his half-cousin Jesus is preaching about all these wonderful things and doing all these wonderful miracles and he's beginning to think, you know, that's really neat. That's really, really neat. Here he can pull all this off. I'm in jail because of righteousness and he won't lift a finger to get me out of this mess. And he began to doubt whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. Nothing wrong with some doubts.
Sometimes said that he who has never doubted has really never really believed. He's just trying to put it together. I mean, it doesn't add up. If he were German, he would have said, it's just not the way it's supposed to be. And so he sends a delegation to Jesus, you remember, and he says, Jesus, are you the one that should come or should we look for another? Have I misread the divine intention?
Then you remember the story. Jesus sends a delegation back and says, you know, tell John a couple of things. Tell him that the dead are being raised, the blind are seeing, the poor are having the gospel preached onto them.
But don't end your little speech there. Add a little footnote and say this, blessed is he who is not offended because of me. Blessed is the person who is not upset with the way in which I run my business. Blessed is the person who goes on believing even when he's not delivered and his prayers are unanswered. John, of course, had no answer to his prayers. He was beheaded and that was the end of it.
You know what? John died before he heard Jesus say these marvelous words. Jesus said to his disciples, I want you to know that there's none born of woman that is as great as John the Baptist. He didn't know that Jesus had that kind of an opinion of him. Here's this person who's going through all this suffering, all this despair, all of the disappointments of life, one after another after another continually being knocked down and there does not seem to be any help from heaven and they would like to give up and they don't know but that Jesus might be saying to the father of those born of woman, there's no greater and then name the person.
Why? Because Jesus says, I know that your dream isn't there but I've got a bigger and a better one. Your suffering is precious and eternally, speaking eternally, there will be such an explosion of wonder over the life that you lived and the glory that will be revealed that you will say in sincerity it was worth it all. But you don't see that here.
You don't see that here. But in the end you will. In the end you will because my dream is bigger than yours and when I say no, it's because I'm saying yes to something much more grand. I asked the Lord for strength that I might do great things. He gave me infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. He gave me poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might sway men. He gave me weakness that I might learn God's grace. I asked for companionship that I might be fulfilled. He gave me loneliness that I might be feeling my need of God.
I received nothing that I asked for but really all that I hoped for, all that I hoped for. Because please believe me when I tell you that when God says no, when God says no, it's always because he has something better in mind, something more eternal, something more lasting. There's another man who prayed and God said no. He was agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane, laid out before the Lord. And as he prayed and the sweat came to his brow and as he was in great agony, he prayed and said, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.
If there is some way to get out of the horror that I am about to partake of, do it. Nevertheless, thy will be done. And you remember the Father did not deliver him. The Father did not deliver him. He went all the way to the cross and because he went to the cross and because he bore our sins and because he was nailed there as the Son of God and the sins of those who believe were laid upon his shoulders and he became legally guilty of their iniquity. Because of that, God had something greater for him. Because he humbled himself, God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. You say, well, that would have been true even if he wouldn't have died. Yes, of course, because he was God. But in a new way, it now became true. It became true because he earned that right as the God-man because God's dream for him was greater than the dream that he had when he was wrestling with the will of God in Gethsemane. And you know that because he was obedient to accepting a no from God, there is now a prayer that all of us can pray that God will always accept.
Isn't that wonderful? You know, there's some things that God will not necessarily give us. He has many promises, but he's not promised to do everything that we ask as we learn today. But there's one prayer that we can pray that we can have the assurance that when it is prayed, it will be answered. The Bible says, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He that believes in him has eternal life.
Why? Because there was someone who took his dreams and gave them to God and believed that when God said no, it was because there was something better and greater and more grand and more eternal that he had in mind. And if you agree, let us pray. Our Father, in all the busyness of life, help us to sit before the Lord, to know that when you say no, you always give us a greater measure of yourself.
You fulfill the greater need, though the lesser is unfulfilled. Grant us that, Father. We pray for all those who have been disappointed in God, for those who long since have given up on prayer. Bring them today, sweep them into your presence, we pray, and show them your glory and show them yourself and show them your interest in their lives. And then, Father, may they pray as they've never prayed before with the promises, the intimacy, the optimism of those who walk with God. Grant us that, Lord. There are so many injustices, so many reasons why sometimes you've answered prayers and sometimes you haven't and it just makes no sense to us.
Help us to know that it doesn't have to. What makes sense is your presence. Grant that, Father, and may we this week take time to sit before the Lord. And for those who have never called upon you and have been saved, we pray in the name of Jesus that you might grant them the ability to do that. In Christ's name, amen. Amen.
Well, I think that as all of us mature in the Christian life, we realize that we do not live by explanations, we live by promises. Let me ask you a question. Do you know someone who would benefit from these messages? Perhaps you've been able to listen to all of them, but you know others who you believe will be blessed and challenged and helped. We're making this series of messages available to you for a gift of any amount. These messages can be yours in permanent form. The title, of course, of the series Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David.
And as we learn these lessons, we're reminded of how his life really does apply to all of us, and at the end of the day, helps us with our intimacy with God. Here's how you can contact us. You can go to rtwoffer.com. Now, when you're there, we want to thank you in advance for your gift because it is your gifts that make this ministry possible.
Go to rtwoffer.com, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages titled Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. Of course, the series of messages traces him from when he was simply a shepherd boy, all the way through his struggles with Saul, his kingship, his failures, and ultimately, it ends, of course, with the death of David when he is finally ushered into the presence of the God whom he loved. It's a series that we believe will help you, will bless you. Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635, North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. With the example of Jesus himself, Erwin Lutzer has concluded Conflict with Unanswered Prayer, the seventh message in his series, Growing Through Conflict, a study in the life of King David. Next time, join us for the famous story of David and Bathsheba, a story of Passions in Conflict. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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