God , I Can’t Hear You

God's Message on the Web - My earliest podcasts.

One of the more difficult realities all of us must deal with is the reality of failed expectations. In virtually every area of our lives we have expectations. Many of our expectations are very important to us. Our expectations are rooted in our hopes. Only when we are completely without hope do we have no expectations.

One of life’s common experiences is for our expectations to fail to materialize. Expectations can fail to materialize for many reasons. Sometimes we expect the impossible. Sometimes we expect too much. Sometimes we have no reason for our expectation. Sometimes our expectation is no more than a wish.

Our expectations are so important to us that every failed expectation causes pain. The mildest reaction we have to a failed expectation is disappointment. The most common reaction to a failed expectation is depression. Severe reactions to failed expectations are hopelessness and a loss of faith.

Failed expectations seriously damage relationships. They severely damage a friendship, a marriage, a parent-child relationship, and a relationship with God.

There is a major assault on our relationship with God when God does not meet our expectations. Perhaps prayer is the most common reason for our concluding that God has failed to meet our expectations. We are urged to pray. We are urged to pray in confidence. We are urged to trust God to hear and respond to our prayers. Because we pray, we expect. When what we expect does not occur, we may be disappointed, or we may be depressed, or we may lose faith because we lose hope. When we pray and our expectations crash, if God is responding, we can’t hear Him.

  1. We are given many assurances that are based on our trusting God in prayer.
    1. Let’s look at some of the common assurances.
      1. Jesus made this statement in a sermon to his disciples in Matthew 7:7, 8:
        Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
      2. Jesus is speaking to his twelve disciples in Matthew 18.
        1. He is answering a question that they asked.
        2. He has just assured them that whatever they bound or loosed on earth would be bound or loosed in heaven.
        3. Then he said to them in verse 19:
          Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.
      3. In Matthew 21 Jesus is again having a conversation with his twelve disciples in verse 18.
        1. At Jesus’ word, a fig tree withered and died.
        2. The next day the twelve were amazed to see the tree withered and asked how the tree withered so quickly.
        3. Jesus explained that they had to have the faith that did not doubt.
        4. Then he assured the twelve in verse 22:
          And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.
      4. In John 14 Jesus gave his final words and instructions to the twelve disciples just hours before his betrayal and arrest.
        1. Much of what he said to them was offered as assurance and encouragement.
        2. In verse 13, he told them:
          And whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
      5. Then there is the parable in Luke 18 beginning in verse 1 when Jesus encouraged his disciples to always pray, and not to lose heart. In verse 7 Jesus asks:
        Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
    2. The New Testament letters to congregations and to Christian individuals contain many statements about prayerfulness.
      1. The authors often declare their prayerfulness.
      2. Some of Paul’s letters contain prayers he offered for those people.
      3. Christians were urged to pray.
    3. It is important to understand each statement in context.
      1. I do not conclude that the promises that Jesus made specifically to his twelve disciples are made to all Christians.
      2. However, there is the undeniable assurance that God responds to our request.
        1. If we place our confidence in Christ and God, we pray in faith expecting an answer.
        2. When we think we do not receive an answer, our expectations are often shattered.
        3. Shattered expectations can severely damage our faith.
    4. How are we to look at those times when we cannot hear God’s answer?
      1. That is a very complex question.
      2. I want to examine just one part of the answer this evening by examining a Scripture concerning prayer that we commonly give too little attention.
  2. Please take a Bible and turn with me to James 4:1-10.
    1. Follow me by looking at the passage as I discuss it.
      1. Verse one begins with two questions.
        1. What causes us (I presume, in context, Christians) to quarrel so much?
          1. Obviously, he is writing to some Christians who fight with each other.
          2. Obviously, the quarreling is not an evidence of their godliness.
        2. Do you not realize that the sources of our pleasures are the basis of our conflicts?
      2. Verse two:
        1. You have consuming desires but those desires are never fulfilled, never satisfied.
        2. Those unsatisfied desires motivate you to kill (destroy?) each other.
        3. He is talking about the fact that these Christians are spiritually destructive to each other.
          1. You envy what the other has, but you cannot acquire it.
          2. So you fight and quarrel because you cannot have it.
        4. The reason you don’t have it is because you don’t ask God for it (pray!).
        5. Anticipated response:
          1. “Is that the reason I don’t have it? If all I have to do to get it is pray, then I’ll ask for it.”
          2. “God, let me have it; give me what I want.”
      3. Verse three: When you ask for it, God does not give it to you because your motive is wrong.
        1. You want it for the wrong purpose.
        2. Your concern is your own pleasure.
        3. You are asking, wanting, because you want to invest in your pleasure.
      4. Verse 4 states God and the ungodliness of this existence represent absolute opposites.
        1. God and godlessness in this existence are as opposite as total darkness and brilliant, pure light.
        2. They are enemies of each other; they cannot coexist; one must dominate.
        3. Either the darkness will consume the light, or the light will consume the darkness.
        4. To belong to God and to flirt with the ungodliness of this existence is to commit spiritual adultery as a Christian.
        5. That is unfaithfulness of the highest magnitude.
        6. To be a friend to the ungodliness of this existence is within itself an act of hostility toward God.
        7. It is impossible to befriend both.
      5. Verse 5 is a difficult verse.
        1. I understand that it is also a difficult verse to translate.
        2. Perhaps he is saying that even though they are ungodly in their desires and are consumed by their hunger for pleasure, God still yearns for them to belong to Him.
      6. Verse 6 states that God’s goodness is great enough to care for this situation–as bad as their motives and desires are, the situation is not impossible.
        1. His limitless goodness that gave us Jesus on the cross is adequate.
        2. His limitless goodness that paid in full the redemption price for all sin is adequate.
      7. Verses 6 through 10 state six things they can do to have access to the goodness of God.
        1. They can turn loose of their pride (which is causing their quarrels and wars) and be humble with each other. God responds to the humble.
        2. They can be submissive to God.
          1. Who was in control?
          2. Since the issue was “my pleasures,” the person was.
          3. In his prayers and his life, he was primarily concerned about self, about “my joy,” about “what I want.”
          4. He was not primarily concerned about God or God’s desires.
        3. They can resist Satan in their personal lives.
          1. When Satan is resisted, he flees.
          2. Satan is a deceiver, a discourager, an illusionist, not a confrontational fighter.
          3. The problem is that most Christians want to resist Satan everywhere but within their own lives.
          4. We get fired up about fighting evil “out there”; but we often ignore the war against evil that should be going on “in here.”
        4. They can get as close to God as choice and decision permit.
          1. “If you choose to come as close as you can to God,
          2. “Then God will come even closer than that to you.”
        5. They could grieve over their quarreling, the destructive treatment of each other, their friendship with the ungodly existence, and their devotion to their own pleasures. “Stop finding your joy in the problem!”
        6. They could humble themselves before God Himself. “Let God do the exalting instead of you attempting to exalt yourself.”
      8. Their problems:
        1. Quarreling.
        2. Devoting themselves to their desires for pleasure.
        3. Destructive treatment of each other.
        4. Envy.
        5. Friendship with the ungodly existence.
      9. Their keys to accessing God’s goodness:
        1. Humility toward each other.
        2. Submissiveness before God.
        3. Resisting Satan in their lives.
        4. Closeness to God.
        5. Grief over their present condition.
        6. Humility before God.

Please notice that all this makes a powerful statement on prayer and failed expectations. They had two problems. The first: they simply did not pray. The second: when they prayed, they had ungodly desires and ungodly motives.

Discussing communication with God is a complex discussion. We dare not oversimplify it. James 4 addresses an assumption that we need to correct. Physical well-being and pleasurable desires are extremely important to us on this earth. Because they are so important to us, we assume that they are also one of God’s top priorities. We assume that our having what we want and enjoy in this life is one of God’s great concerns. We assume that God wants us to be happy on this earth (by our concept of happiness). We assume God places great importance on fulfilling our physical and material desires.

Those are incorrect assumptions. God seeks our happiness for eternity, not on earth. God’s desires and purposes for us far exceed our physical and material desires and ambitions. When our prayers focus primarily on our physical and material desires, we have a wrong focus and wrong motives.

David Chadwell

Author: Greg

Welcome to Gods Message on the web. My name is Greg and I want to welcome you. I started doing these Podcasts, MP3, and Audio Books back in 2007. Stay awhile and make yourself at home. The Christian Podcasts here are free and for everyone to enjoy. I’m doing a complete series on David Chadwell who is a retired minister from Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ve also done an Audio Book for Wayne Jacobsen’s the Naked Church. Plus a series of MP3s for Pastor Billy Crone and his The Final Countdown series.

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