When Not To Cry Out To God
What Is Satan Scared Of?
This is a short message I shared with a small group. God is working and people are being healed. The devil doesn’t like when people are touched by God, so he does everything to oppose it. I thought it might be helpful to some of you to share one of the ways I’ve experienced Satan trying to hinder what God wants to do, and how I am learning to deal with it. I’ll start by sharing the message in this blog post, and next week I will share about confronting spiritual opposition after the message.
Satan isn’t nearly as opposed to people believing in God’s existence and power as he is opposed to people understanding that they can know God’s will and see what he is like through Christ. All throughout scripture, we see God desiring to partner with men. God does his part, and we do our part. Satan doesn’t seem to feel so threatened when people believe that there is a God up there in the sky. But he is terrified of Christians finding out that Christ lives in them! He doesn’t mind our religious activities so much as long as he can get us to keep asking God to do everything, yet failing to do our part to partner with what the Holy Spirit wants to do.
I very regularly hear people pray “God, please rebuke all evil.” Where did God ever tell us to ask him to rebuke evil? He told us to rebuke it. One of the very reasons that Christ came as a man, was because God gave authority to men. I’ve recognized how these attitudes are crippling many in the churches, resulting in powerlessness. Believers need to learn to use their God-given authority. So this was what I shared:
When Not To Cry Out To God
In Exodus chapter 14, we read the story of the Israelites being trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. It was a desperate situation, with no hope from a natural perspective. Yet the Israelites so quickly forgot the many supernatural things the Lord had already done to deliver them. They were grumbling and complaining to Moses.
Then Moses prayed, asking God for deliverance. This seems like quite a spiritual, mature response to the situation, doesn’t it? But God said something to Moses that is a little surprising.
Exodus 14:15-17 (NRSV) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.
The Lord asked Moses “Why do you cry out to me?” Crying out to the Lord wasn’t the appropriate response. Moses already had God’s word. He was commissioned by the Lord to deliver the Israelites.
The staff represents authority. Moses was to use his authority to divide the sea, not ask God to do it. God would do his part and accomplish a great victory.
We have a very similar story in the New Testament. It’s found in Luke 8:22-25. Jesus said to his disciples “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” But a windstorm came, and the boat was filling with water. Maybe it was dark. Maybe they couldn’t see the land. They were afraid.
Their response in their distress might seem very appropriate. They cried out to God. “Jesus, save us!” But Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief. Why?
Jesus had already commissioned them to cross the lake. They weren’t supposed to ask Jesus to calm the storm. It was they who were supposed to calm it!
There are times to ask God to do something. The New Testament talks about prayers of petition. But there are some things that we aren’t supposed to ask God. What should we not cry out to God to do? Let’s look at Matthew 10.
Matthew 10:7-8 (NRSV) As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.
We are not to ask God to do the things that he has commanded us to do. We don’t need to ask God to heal the sick. Peter and John didn’t ask God to heal the beggar. They told him to get up. We don’t need to ask God to rebuke evil. He told us to rebuke it! Paul didn’t ask God to rebuke the demon that was possessing the slave girl. He told it to get out!
Remember, Ephesians teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God, far above all power and authority! And then it says that we were raised with Jesus and seated with him. So we are also seated far above all power and authority. When we learn to do our part, partnering with God who is faithful to do what he has promised to, the results are marvellous!
To Be Continued…
Some of you may have wanted to see God heal the sick but felt frustrated with the results of your prayers. If that is you, this message may help you. God has given you authority to rebuke the works of the enemy! Next week I will share about the spiritual opposition that I encountered after sharing this message with one group, and how I confronted it.
(Note: This message is partly inspired by Bill Johnson’s teaching about Jesus crossing the stormy sea with his disciples. That was one of the teachings that changed my life about 10 years ago. It is also partly inspired by a John G. Lake sermon on Moses’ prayer.)