Too often the Lord speaks to us clearly and with simple words – straight talk, but it seems too simple to be true; therefore, we doubt the words of God even though we are believers. We say, “Yes, but ….”. Or “That’s not what the passage is really saying.” We nullify the words of God by giving or thinking that he is referring to something else. How can we take God at His Word and do not doubt in our hearts? In Mark 11:23, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” These are the Words of God; nevertheless, we ask, “What does he mean when he said ‘whatever you ask’? Can I ask for anything? Anything! Surely, not whatsoever! Because if I ask for this and that, surely the Lord will not give it to me if it is not good for me, because he knows what’s good for me; therefore, I will not ask for whatever!
Because this saying is too simple, then it must be more to it than at face value. You may say “you have to read a little here and a little there” then you may understand what Jesus meant when he said “whatsoever”, but I must tell you that Jesus meant what he said. Whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing that you have it, and it is yours. This is a promise and a true saying. Today we doubt the Lord by our actions and in our hearts, but with our lips, we say we trust in the Lord. If we trust his words we would believe every word that proceeded out of his mouth and does not doubt in your hearts. In Genesis 17:15, Abraham also had trouble believing the simple words of God. The Bible read ‘God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” But although the Lord told Abraham this, Abraham knows that Sarah is too old to have children, therefore he doubts the Lord by his action. The Bible said Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” You too may be in the same situation today.
God’s word is simple but too simple for you to believe. Abraham laughed, and may whisper to himself “I am too old for sex, and Sarah too old to have children”. Our physical experience supersedes and takes precedence in our belief rather than God’s simple word. He laughed! Abraham said he is too old. Abraham decided to ask for something more reasonable and practical. He knows that his son Ishmael is already here, so he said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” He knows that this makes more sense than what God had said. Why don’t we take God at his word? Why modify it and make it more practical to our belief. God reassured Abraham and said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” God is merciful and forgiving. He gave Abraham more information hoping that he would believe and take him at his words.
Does God have to paint us a picture, stand straight in our faces, or drag us in front of him for us to take him at his words? Abraham wasn’t the only one, there are many other faithful believers who had troubles taking God at his words, even though they believe in God and worship him. They know that he is all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty, but simple straight words are too simple to believe. In Luke 1:11, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Whooo! This angel gave Zechariah a load of information. He did not just say “your wife will have a son”, but he gave him more information than what God initially gave to Abraham. Did this work? No! Well, Zechariah had the same problem as many of you. Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” How can this be? How can the Almighty God that I believe in do such a hard thing? The all-powerful God, how can we bear a son in our old age? The angel was physically in front of Zechariah; it was not like Abraham who heard the voice of God. Zechariah saw the angel physically standing before him, but he had to ask ‘ how could this be?’
Do you still doubt Jesus when he said ‘whatever you ask in prayer, believing you have it, and it will be yours’”? Will you take Jesus at his word, or do you doubt? God is merciful; he is patient, but how can you know if your doubt will not lead you into unfruitfulness. Because Zechariah had doubt, the angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” The angel had to identify himself to Zechariah for him to believe, but because he doubted, the angel said, “now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” If you are not getting your prayer answered, it could be that God is teaching you something. If you are not getting ahead, if you are not changing, but instead keep going back into those sinful practices, it could be that God is teaching you something. You can get out of those situations if you only take Jesus at his words. In Luke 1: 28, when the angel went to Mary and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Here again, another angel giving a believer a straight message; he gave her information similar to Abraham and Zechariah, and by this, you would think that Mary would take him at his word.
No, she too had a physical limitation that would not supersede the angels’ reality; therefore she doubted and asked, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” How could God do this? Does he not know that to have a baby you have to be sexually active? Not only that, but she has to get married first. ‘How could this be?’ Mary asked the angel. The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary! Don’t you know that God can do all things? Christian friends! Believers! Don’t you know that God is all-powerful? Then why not take him at his word? Why do you have to qualify his words to fit your physical situation? to fit your scholarly training – your many degrees. Jesus said, ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours!’ What else do you want to hear? Can we be like Mary and say, “I believe you Lord, may it be to me as you have said.” Some of us are not bold enough to say it. Our voices crackled just to utter Amen, much less to take God’s word at face value and testify aloud while claiming his gift and blessings. Paul said in Romans 10:8, that “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and is justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Anyone! You and I are included in that statement: anyone. Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. If the Word of God said you will never be put to shame, why not step forward and claim his gift? You will not be put to shame. This is the word of God; take him at his word. Paul further states in 2 Cor 4:13, that in the Psalms it is written, “’I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” Paul further encourages us by saying, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Today, just like in the days of old, many do not take Jesus at his words. He pleaded with them, and from the Bible, God’s words speak to us, but we still don’t take God at his word. In John 6:36, Jesus said, “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” With this simple word from Jesus, we should claim this promise. Repeat this prayer with me: “Heavenly Father, God of creation of the heavens and the earth; creator of all things. You said in your words whoever comes to you, you will never drive away, and that ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’; therefore, I am calling on your name. Jesus Christ, I want you to save me now. You, Jesus, are the Christ, Lord over all things including my life. Come into my heart and take control of my life. Make me a new person who will take your words at face value, always walking according to your will. Amen.”