Matthew 21:21-22 “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Does the phrase “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” mean that Jesus is just going to give us whatever our hearts desire?
Many have come to think this way. The entire “name it and claim it” movement is built on these types of scriptures.
John reflected on this:
1 John 3:22 “and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
This scripture in John makes it sound like God rewards good behavior for those who perform pleasingly for God, so when we take a portion of scripture and draw conclusions it’s easy to think this way. When we examine scripture according to the integrity of its intended message, we see it in light of the truth God was revealing.
When we examine the context of 1 John 3 we see a theme that expresses love for one another. The focus is on others and not ourselves.
1 John 3:11 “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
When we walk according to God’s purpose, we’re following the path He set before us. When the Lord leads the way, He promises to supply us with all we need for the journey.
Reflective of God’s love is the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.
Whether a mountain stands in the way or a provision is needed for the moment, He promises to supply us accordingly, He promises to lead us through the seemingly impossible, and He has never failed anyone yet.
If we are to be free from the loves of this world, our focus must be on God’s will….not our own… and this is where the dilemma arises.
If we are honest with ourselves we will be honest about the decisions we are making and the reasons for them.
We know when we do not glorify God in our conduct because He moves us toward righteousness.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
You see, when we come to Christ, He changes our heart. We can’t remain the same, He simply won’t allow us to. We might perform what looks like ‘good works’, when all along our heart was never true to the action.
When we ‘will’ to work contrary to His leading, we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow, to draw near, and simply put—to love Him in return.
When the people of Israel returned to the Lord, He forgave them of their sins and the change was quite dramatic.
Ezekiel 36:29-31 “I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines. Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did.”
The Lord revealed His judgement upon the people when they were living in sin. He affected the produce and brought famine, the trees did not bear fruit, and the shame of others befell them. We’ve got to stop looking at our troubling situations and think God has nothing to do with them, as a nation and individually there is far more happening to bring us to repentance than we realize. Once the people realized their error, God relented and showed them mercy. It wasn’t some half-hearted change that happened among the people, it was truly a heart change that was purposeful.
Ezekiel 36:33-36 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When I cleanse you from your sins, I will repopulate your cities, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The fields that used to lie empty and desolate in plain view of everyone will again be farmed. And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This former wasteland is now like the Garden of Eden! The abandoned and ruined cities now have strong walls and are filled with people!’ Then the surrounding nations that survive will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruins and replanted the wasteland. For I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do what I say.”
Not only does God bring blessing upon the land, he brings back honor upon your head. The shame of sin is a position that many lose sight of when their focus turns inward, living in constant rebellion brings one lower and lower each day.
The good news—the Lord restores that which was lost.
If your heart’s desire is to be found faithful, the Lord will return your faithfulness with far more than you ever would have realized. Did you happen to notice what happens when the Lord places His Spirit in His people?
vs. 27 “And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations“
The sign of a change of heart toward God is obedience toward God’s laws. This was important during Ezekiel’s time and it remains important today. What is important to the Lord should be important to us, it is the sign that we are walking with Him.
If you still question your position, then pray about it, dwell upon the Law of the Lord and it will prove to be the measuring stick by which you can gauge your life. If you’ve lost sight of what obedience looks like, the moral law is the source to return to. Remember, you are not striving to justify yourself through legalism, you are measuring yourself according to the character and love of God as you express it toward Him.
When you understand the principles of God’s pathway, you’ll find every one of your heart’s desires are found in Him.