[Mar 28]---“Please Pray For Me”

            I remember a few years ago when I and my best friend Kevin had a sharp disagreement. We were both working as summer missionary church planters, and I made a habit of ending every conversation with every Non-Christian with “May God bless you.” Kevin took me aside one day and admonished me: “You know Keith, if someone isn’t saved, then it’s impossible for God to bless them.” He had a point. Every person outside of Christ is under the Lord’s wrath, not his smile. But my counter-point is that it’s entirely possible for God to physically bless someone who’s not redeemed; in fact, he does it all the time. As Jesus told us, "He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." If someone has good health, a good financial income, a good family, etc., then those are good things which the Lord has given them, and we normally call those things “blessings.”
            But although I was technically correct, Kevin’s counter-counter-argument was that this just leads to confusion. If we say that someone is being “blessed by God,” usually that implies that he’s smiling on them and their enterprise, that he’s basically fine with what they’re doing. And I've come to believe he has the better part of the argument over what I said. 
            That leads us to today’s passage. Let’s take a hypothetical example. Let’s say that you work with someone (let’s call him Joe) in the office who’s not a believer. He’s going through some real troubles in his marriage, and he’s at the point of seriously considering divorce. He comes to you, since he knows you’re a Christian, and confides in you what’s going on, and he might even ask you to talk to “The Man Upstairs” to help him through this time of turmoil. What do you say?
            Well, you could tell him that you’ll pray for his marriage, that they’ll be able to work through his problems together and knit it back together. And I guess there’s nothing wrong with that as far as it goes. God is pro-marriage, and he hates divorce.
            But the problems in Joe’s marriage are not the main problems in Joe's life. The main problem is that he’s not under God’s protection at all. He doesn’t belong to the Lord. If you’ve shared the Good News of Christ with him and he hasn’t received it, then ipso facto he’s not doing things God’s way.
            Let me illustrate. Let’s imagine for a moment that it’s right after the American Revolutionary War. The colonies have successfully broken off from Great Britain. The Brits have signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain officially recognizes us as a sovereign nation. We’re no longer part of the British Empire. We’re now our own country. We now have independence. 
            And then. . . suddenly we look at our financial situation and discover that we can’t pay our bills. We’re broke. We have no money. So then we go back to England and ask for financial assistance. What do you think their response would be? “Um, you do know what independence means, right? It means we’re no longer financially responsible for you, nor responsible for you in any other way.”
            That’s how it is with every person who hasn’t received Christ, especially if they’re heard the Good News and rejected it. They’ve declared independence. If they want God’s help with their marriage or their finances or their job, they have to start doing things his way. And that starts with believing in Jesus and submitting to him.
            So what would I say to Joe? “Joe, I feel for you, man. I really believe God wants to save your marriage. But as long as you don’t do things his way, then how can you expect his help in anything? And doing things his way starts with coming to him his way, in the way he's approved. And there’s only one way to get to him. Let me tell you about it. . .”
            But what about me? I want his blessings on my life too. And hopefully I’m mature enough to realize that the best blessings aren’t the tangible ones, and aren’t the ones that an unsaved man can have. And I believe in Christ and have pledged myself to doing things his way. But is there an area of independence in my life? Some hidden corner which I call “mine”? If so, I can’t expect God’s blessings in that area, or really in anything else.
            Zedekiah stands as a prime example of what not to do. Am I following in his footsteps?

Father God, obviously I don’t want to be foolish like Zedekiah. Am I like him in any way? Is there an area of my life in which I—either consciously or not—have declared independence?

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