Growing up in a home with a Mother who was an ordained minister was not easy. “Mommy, can I do…?” Minister Johnson measured our every request with God’s ruler. Did it meet the standards of righteousness? The King James version says: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6. But due to the varied modern methods of training children, the Contemporary English version makes God’s command plain-spoken for 21st-century parents: Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown, they will still do right. Proverbs 22:6. As I matured, I finally realized that if there were any possibilities of suffering negative consequences, then the answer would be an automatic “no.” My mother fulfilled the requirements of raising her children according to God’s truth.
What about us? Can we accept when God says, “No?”
Because our desires have a strong influence on us, often it is difficult to know what is acceptable to God when we pray for an answer of yes. Let’s say that you need a vehicle. You begin to do research and find a dealership that is offering a special with “zero down and 60 payments of $485 a month.” You pray and ask God for His blessing, and the next day, you decide to stop by the dealer, just to look. After speaking to the sales rep, he or she bypasses the vehicle that you are interested in and shows you an upgraded version. You readily agree to the offer for a test drive, and now you’re caught up in the bait and switch tactic. After the test drive, the offer is extended with the same criteria, only the monthly payment is $575, which will begin in 45 days, and this deal is only available for 24 hours. The offer is not from God.
As unbelievable as this sounds, we place ourselves into predicaments all of the time. The other day, I was asked, “How do you know if what is presented is a blessing from God or a gift from Satan?” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17. Because Satan cannot give good gifts, nor can he offer a perfect situation, there is always an “if, and, only, or but” that we have to fulfill, which leads us into the journey of suffering negative consequences.
“Watch the stealthy approach of Satan, watch against old habits and natural inclinations lest they exert themselves; force them back if need be a hundred times. Watch the thoughts, watch the plans, lest they become selfish and self-centered. Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” TMK 351. Ellen G. White
Back to our vehicle dilemma: Purchasing a vehicle includes the additional expenses of full-coverage insurance with deductibles, registration fees, new vehicle tax, and operating expenses. Also included are the routine maintenance expenses and the unexpected, which may or may not be covered in the warranty. Working within our financial budget includes developing an alternate plan if a loss of income occurs. Will you have the means to pay these expenses if you are laid off or permanently lose your job? Vehicle payment+ insurance + routine/uncovered warranty maintenance + operating expenses = Total cost of the purchased vehicle.
God is already aware that you need a vehicle, and He promises, “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24. So when you do your part (Human Effort) through financial planning of the monetary resources that God has blessed you with, then God acts (Divine Intervention) and presents the perfect vehicle within your budget. And even if you lose your job, God has plans to provide for your monthly payment until you are employed again. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 2 Corinthians 1:19
God never wavers between yes and no—he’s completely affirmative in all his dealings with us. All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus. Because of Jesus, all God’s answers are yes, as you pray in his name and Spirit. Are you waiting for a “Yes” from God but secretly afraid he’ll say “No”? If what you want is his will, you can be sure his answer will be “Yes.” Wait for the Yes to work itself into your life, in God’s timing.
—Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions
Faith, trust, and obedience are always required to serve God.
- And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 NIV
- Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
- Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:6
- Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
God, please teach us how to seek your will. Many times we have placed ourselves into situations with negative consequences due to disobedience. And for this, we ask forgiveness. We desire to bring our petitions to you and to wait and accept your answer, even if it is no. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the author’s written permission.