The God of Possible
“I was surprised to read a Facebook posting from a friend in South Dakota named Diane. She wrote, ‘Had a nice surprise last night. At about 10:30 p.m. the phone rang. It was Governor Mike Rounds checking in with us to see how the road repair was going.’ There had been a lot of flooding in the area where Diane lives, and the roads were a mess—and the governor actually called her to see how she felt about the repair progress.
When I wrote Diane to express my surprise, she said it wasn't the first time a governor had called her. Another time, some years ago, one of South Dakota's previous governors called about some FEMA money for the area. She told me that when the governor called she was in the middle of a home perm, but couldn't very well tell the governor to hold while she rinsed her hair. She added: ‘That frizzy hair haunted me for weeks.’
I know that South Dakota is a small state, but this was incredible to me. I asked Diane if she was in county government or something, and she said she wasn't. Sensing I was blown away by her interactions with the government, she had this to say: ‘I have found that shaking the tree from the top gets the fastest results. When there is a problem, I usually become the ‘squeaky wheel,’ and I think they just want to get me off their case!’
My conversation with Diane made me think of the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8—the one about the persistent widow and the judge who finally relented and granted her request. Jesus concluded: ‘And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’
The issue isn't whether God cares or is listening. The issue is whether we have faith enough to persist in ‘shaking the tree.’”
Praying about the tax debt
My prayer about the tax debt has been that God would miraculously and supernaturally provide a large lump sum that would eliminate the entire tax debt
God has answered that prayer in several ways
He recently provided $28,000 in three weeks toward the tax debt in three smaller lump sums
He has been providing each month through the rental of the other parsonage and the multipurpose room to Monelli Educational Services
He has also been providing through consistent giving from individuals within the church
Through all of those ways I know that God cares and listens
Personal answered prayers
Judy and I know that God cares and listens
We had complications with our last two pregnancies
We fervently prayed for those pregnancies
We saw God answer in miraculous ways to allow us to have our second and third sons
We have experienced God’s care through healings
We know that God cares and listens when we have transitioned from one job to another
God has shown His love and care to us through providing financially throughout our married lives
The Lord has given us wisdom in relationships as we have sought Him through prayer
How many of us have continued to seek the Lord in prayer for something?
Many times, we ask and keep on asking for salvation of a loved one (husband, parent, child, grandchild, etc.)
At other times we continue to pray about a financial situation
Still others get on their knees daily for a job or job related circumstance
At times we fall face down in desperation concerning an illness, whether our own, a family member, or a friend
We do not stop petitioning God until we hear from Him
How many of us know that God cares and He listens?
Take a moment to reflect on a recent answer to prayer
What were you praying about?
How long had you been praying about it?
How did God answer your prayer?
Rachel experienced God’s care and knew that He listened to her cries of desperation. The Lord would open her womb and allow her to conceive. It would be an answer to her prayers and not human schemes or a magical fruit or root. She experienced what many of us have experienced, that . . .
BIG IDEA – God cares for us.
GOD (Genesis 30:22-24)
Remembered (v. 22a)
God remembered Rachel
This is not the first time that God remembered a human being
We see this phrase used for Noah and Abraham in Genesis also
Genesis 8:1, But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
Genesis 19:29, So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
PRINCIPLE #1 – God does not forget about His people.
He is all-knowing
He knew what Noah needed after being cooped up in an ark for long time
He knew what Abraham and Lot needed
He knew Rachel’s heart and her desire to have her own children
God’s timing and purposes are perfect
God has not forgotten about you
He knows your heart and your desires
He knows that you want your spouse, parent, child, grandchild, friend, schoolmate, coworker, etc. to believe in Jesus
He knows that you want to be healed from the physical issues you are having
He knows that you want your family member or friend to be healed
He knows about the financial struggles you are experiencing
He knows about the relational tensions that are happening in your family, at school, in your neighborhood, and at work
He knows that you want to be married and have a family
He knows that you want to have children of your own
He knows about your fears, anxiety, and depression that accompany the issues mentioned above
Proverbs 18:24, A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Isaiah 49:15-16, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
1 Peter 5:10, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Perhaps you need to be reminded today and claim the truth that God has not forgotten you
You have not slipped His mind
He is aware of everything you are going through
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Find encouragement through the truth that God has not forgotten about me.
God cares for you.
He knows the struggles you are going through
He knows your heart desires
God had not forgotten about Rachel and her desire to have a child of her own
He had heard her prayers
Listened (v. 22b)
The fact that God listened to Rachel tells us that she had been crying out to Him
“His attentive ear implies that she continued her petitions for a child, resulting in his gracious answer.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 490]
It is likely that Rachel’s prayer also included a petition that the Lord would remove her disgrace within the community
God answered her prayer and opened her womb
Rachel had probably been praying for a child from the beginning, which would have been around seven years
What have you been crying out to the Lord about?
How long have you been petitioning Him?
Are you beginning to question whether or not He is listening?
PRINCIPLE #2 – God hears and answers our prayers.
God was listening to Rachel and her prayers and He had the perfect time set aside to answer her prayer
1 Peter 3:10-12, For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1 John 5:14-15, This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray continually.
Isaiah 65:24, Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The same is true for you and me – God hears our prayers and has perfect timing in answering them
We know that God answers our prayers in three ways: Yes, No, and Wait
Our desire is that He always answers Yes, right away – that is our immediate gratification culture at play
We struggle when He answers No or Wait
The Lord had been answering Rachel – wait, but eventually He answered yes
Maybe the Lord is currently answering your request with wait
That does not mean that He has not heard your prayers or has not answered
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Have confidence that God hears and answers my prayers, even if His current answer is No or Wait.
God cares about you by hearing and answering your prayers.
God opened Rachel’s womb at just the right time, in answer to her prayers
Notice that the mandrakes she asked for did not have any influence on her infertility – it was God who opened her womb
God provided a son for her
Provided (vv. 23-24)
After God opened her womb, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son
God is the One who provided a baby boy for Rachel
“There are four keys that God personally holds on to, so that only he can open the door: rain, food, tomb, and womb (Tg. Neolf.).” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 476]
It was according to His timing and purpose for Rachel
Rachel tried to speed up God’s timing by giving her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob
Rachel tried to supersede God’s purpose by bargaining with Leah for her son’s mandrakes, hoping that the “magical” fruit and root would reverse the curse of infertility
She realizes now that God is her provider
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is our provider!
We have to be careful that we do not try to run ahead of God and His timing
We also have to make sure we do not try to supersede God’s plan and purpose by using other people and things to accomplish our desires
We need to patiently and faithfully wait for God to provide according to His timing and purpose
When He provides, we know it will be good
Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
James 1:17, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Matthew 6:31-33, So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
God cares about you and provides for you
You can claim that truth today!
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the truth that God is my provider.
God had provided a son for Rachel at just the right time and according to His plan and purpose
God also answered Rachel’s prayer to eliminate her disgrace
Rachel’s disgrace removed
Rachel’s response to becoming pregnant was to recognize that God had removed her disgrace and exalted her in His time
My guess is that perhaps Rachel needed to learn to rely on God instead of herself, her husband, her maidservant, and some magical plant
Maybe when she learned that lesson and God saw growth in her, He opened her womb and allowed her to become pregnant
PRINCIPLE #4 – God exalts us in His time.
I am certain that no one else struggles with pride, like I do
In my humanness, I want to be exalted and looked at with high regard by others (colleagues, friends, family, parishioners, etc.)
I want to recognized and praised
I know that no one else has those same desires
My guess is that most of us struggle with some pride in our lives – wanting to be praised and recognized by colleagues, family, and friends
We all need to be reminded that we work and serve for an audience of One
Matthew 25:21 & 23, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
God will exalt us in His time, so we need to faithfully serve Him where we are
Through that we will know that God cares for us
Rachel names her son, Joseph
His name means, “Jehovah has added”
Rachel is hopeful in naming her Joseph, that the Lord allow her to have another son
Be encouraged today that God has not forgotten you, because He cares for you
You can have confidence that God hears and answers your prayers
Know that God is your provider
God is the One who exalts you in His time
God has not forgotten about Idaville Church
He answers our prayers
He provides for us
He will exalt us in His time
“Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name ‘Brennan.’ While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan's life was spared.
When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name ‘Brennan.’ Years later he went to visit Ray's mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, ‘Do you think Ray loved me?’ Mrs. Brennan got up off the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan's face and shouted, ‘What more could he have done for you?’ Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? And Jesus' mother Mary pointing to her son, saying, ‘What more could he have done for you?’
The cross of Jesus is God's way of doing all he could do for us. And yet we often wonder, Does God really love me? Am I important to God? Does God care about me?”
Source: Adapted from James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God (IVP, 2009), p. 142.
God cares about you!