. . . for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
Do you believe God is in control?
I often ask this question when I'm speaking to audiences. More than half the audience will raise their hands in agreement that they believe God is in control. However, let me propose to you that God is not in control.
Yes, God is omnipotent and omnipresent and He can do anything He wants to do any time He wants to do it. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 135:6 "Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth.‚?Ě
However, God has chosen to work through human beings, which means that much of the activity on earth will only be accomplished if human beings cooperate with God through prayer, intercession and obedience to His commands. He exerts limited authority over the earth because He has delegated authority to man through Jesus Christ.
When God created earth He also created Adam and Eve. The world was sinless and the relationship between God and man was perfect. All their needs were met through their relationship with God. God gave dominion over the entire earth to Adam and Eve. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth‚?Ě (Genesis 1:26). They had an intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father until Adam and Eve decided that God was holding out on them.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the world changed forever. No longer did they have the intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father. Sin broke the Father-son/daughter relationship. They were now slaves and orphans and residents of a global orphanage.
The Bible says that when Satan came into the world he was now considered by Jesus "ruler of the world‚?Ě (John 12:21). Jesus tells us that Satan was ruler of the world in three different places in the book of John.
God took a huge risk when He gave man free will. By giving man free will it meant that God would be blamed for many things that Satan would do. By giving man free will He knew that evil would work through man and man would blame God for the evil instead of Satan, who is the author of evil.
This is why so many unbelievers ask the question, "If God is a God of love, then how could the Holocaust happened? Why do good people suffer?‚?Ě Certainly this is always the question we have when things take place we cannot resolve in our minds. We start down a slippery slope of impugning the nature of God when we begin attributing evil to God.
This is what happened to Cain in Genesis when he impugned the nature of God because God judged his attitude regarding his sacrifice. God did not reject Cain; He rejected his attitude and motivation for his sacrifice. Cain impugned the nature of God by accusing God of rejecting him, versus his attitude and this allowed the spirit of rejection to turn into bitterness that led to murdering his own brother.
We know that God is love because the scripture tells us that God is love. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us "The Lord your God is in your midst, the mighty one, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.‚?Ě
You see, when God thinks of you, love swells in his heart. There's nothing you can do that will change the love the Father has for you. Yes, you impact that relationship by sinning. But, His love will never change and there is always an open door to repentance and re-establishment of that relationship based on 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.‚?Ě
God decided that He wanted to restore His relationship with man. So, He decided to send His only Son to earth to pay for man's sin. This, too, is further proof of the deep love God, the Father has for man. It says in Luke 19:10 that Jesus came to reclaim all that had been lost. That means that Jesus came to restore everything that had been lost as a result of man's sin in the garden. That included their relationship with God, their relationship to their work life, their relationship to each other and much more.
When Jesus was crucified for you and me He accomplished several things. He told His disciples that he was going to delegate all of his authority on earth to His disciples and us as His representative. He said in Matthew 16:19: "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.‚?Ě He also told us that after He left they would do even greater works than He did on the earth because they would soon receive the power the Holy Spirit: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
In Ezekiel 22:30 we read what God is looking for from man today. "So I looked for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, so that I should not destroy it; but I found no one." In essence, He is asking, "Is anyone willing to stand on behalf of the culture so that He would not have to destroy it?" "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor‚?Ě (Isa 59:16).
God chooses to work through human beings. He rarely works outside of human beings. Yes, it does happen. However, he generally chooses to work through human beings. That's why when you're awakened in the middle of the night to pray for someone, God is actually looking for someone He can use to pray a prayer that is already His will to answer a prayer. God is looking for someone to be the vessel to accomplish something He wants to do, but He needs a human being to pray it into existence. You and I are His representative. So what we need to learn is how we are to fulfill the purposes of God on earth.
My good friend Craig Hill shares a powerful story of this principle that God is looking for someone to pray His will on planet earth. It was six months before Craig met Jan, his future wife. They learned a powerful lesson about how God answers prayer.
In early 1975, Craig had just graduated from college and had a nine-month period of time before he would start a two year graduate MBA program in Chicago. For the first few months of the year, Craig was employed as a co-pilot in a Learjet flying the US mail out of Grand Rapids, Michigan five nights a week. He would leave Grand Rapids around midnight and fly to Chicago, Bloomington, Illinois and on to St. Louis. Then he would fly back to Peoria, Illinois, Chicago again and then back across Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids.
One night, on the last leg of the trip from Chicago back to Grand Rapids, the Chicago air traffic control center advised Craig that the weather in much of Michigan was deteriorating very rapidly and had very limited visibility. They suggested that he might want to return to Chicago.
The captain and he looked at each other, and he asked him, "Do you want to go back to Chicago?"
"No," I answered. "If we do, we will probably get stuck in the pilot's lounge all day. I'm tired. I want to go home and go to bed. I bet we can beat the fog into Grand Rapids."
He concurred with Craig. They told the air-traffic control that they would continue to Grand Rapids.
Craig said, "I don't know why, but I have noticed that frequently they locate airports right in the crook of a river. This is the case in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So where does the fog form first? Right over the river, of course, which is right on the approach into the precision instrument approach runway. As a result, we discovered that when the visibility was low, many times we could get into the airport on the non-precision instrument approach from the non-river end of the runway more easily even though the visibility and altitude minimums were higher than they were from the other direction.
This particular night, we shot the first instrument approach with no success. When we arrived at the minimum altitude we saw no runway come, no lights, no ground; nothing but fog. So we ascended and tried to precision approach from the other direction. On dissent on the second approach, two little red lights illuminated on our panel, "low fuel."
Unfortunately, the second approach yielded the same results as the first. Now they both knew that they had made a mistake. They asked the controllers what was the closest airport with above visibility minimums. They responded that Lansing, Michigan was still open.
So they headed for Lansing as fast as they could go. Unfortunately, with the type of jet engines that powered this Learjet, they were burning at low altitude about four times as much fuel as we burned at cruise altitude. When they arrived at Lansing, they again shot an instrument approach from each of two directions to the minimum altitude, but the fog was already too thick to allow them to see the runway lights. Now they were really low on fuel. They asked the controller what other airport near them was open. They sent them to Detroit but added that the visibility was going down fast there, too.
Craig was now beginning to really fear for his life. As they flew over to Detroit, he was having visions of Heaven and talking with the saints of old. He could just see himself conversing with a Abraham, Moses, and Peter.
"And how did you die, Peter?" I was queried.
"Well," he said, "I was crucified upside down for the name of Christ. And how did you die, Craig?"
"I was stupid and ran out of fuel in an airplane," I reluctantly had to admit. I really did not want to have that testimony for all of eternity.
When they finally arrived in Detroit, they were the second to the last airplane to make it into the Detroit airport before the fog reduced the visibility below minimums at that airport also. They landed with literally only minutes of fuel left.
Later in July of that year, Craig met Jan on the team in Europe. Through the autumn of that year he continued to meet at Jan's parent's home every third weekend or so. During this time of getting to know each other, Craig was relating to Jan the various "heroic‚?Ě adventures of his life. One evening at her parent's home, Craig was sharing with her how he had almost run out of fuel and crashed in a Learjet in Michigan earlier that year. As the story unfolded, a surprised look came upon Jan's face and as he finished, she remarked, "I have to ask you two questions."
"What are those? "he replied.
"Was the other guy quite a bit older than you?"
"Yes." he replied.
"Were you both wearing light blue, one-piece flight suits?‚?Ě
"Yes," he replied. "But why would you ask that question?‚?Ě
"We prayed for you!" she announced.
"What do you mean, "You prayed for me?" "This happened in January. I didn't even meet you until July. How could you have prayed for me when you didn't even know me yet?"
Then Jan began to explain. At that time in January 1975, Jan had been part of the YWAM school of evangelism in Germany. Every morning the students met in small groups for prayer. During the course of the school, the intercessor Bible teacher, Joy Dawson, talked to the students about a particular prayer model. Usually when people pray, they simply pray for their "shopping list" of all the things that they would like God to help them with. They just pray for the things that are important to them.
In this YWAM school Joy Dawson had taught the students to ask the Lord "What was on His heart that day that He would like them to pray. It was their understanding that they were to partner with God in prayer to release His authority on earth to accomplish his purposes.
Consequently, every morning in their small groups of students they would first ask the Lord what He wanted them to pray about. They would listen for the topic that came to their minds with each other and make a list of these topics. They then proceeded to take each topic one by one and ask the Lord what they were to pray. Frequently, the Holy Spirit would bring to their minds things to pray which they had no natural cognitive knowledge.
Sometimes they would receive confirmation from natural sources regarding the things that they prayed, but most times they could not. Each day they were simply faithful to pray what God spoke to them.
Jan shared with Craig that one day back in January they were asking God for what they would pray for that day, one of the topics that came up was that they were to pray for an airplane. As they prayed through the list of topics they had for the morning, as was their custom, when they came to the topic "airplane‚?Ě, they naturally asked the Lord, "What are we supposed to pray about an airplane?"
Then one by one each member of the group shared and prayed what came to their minds regarding this topic.
One person said, "I sense that the airplane we are to pray for is very small, but very fast like ‚?~United' US airline company.‚?Ě
Another one contributed, "I sense that there are only two pilots on board. One is old and one is young."
Someone else said, "I see that the two pilots are both wearing light blue one-piece flight suits and they are carrying the US mail."
Jan shared, "I am seeing a map picture of the western part of the Great Lakes area of United States. The map appears very dark and is growing foggier. I believe the plane is running out of gas, we need to pray for them to find a place to land."
The group then proceeded to pray for this airplane for a safe place to land. They prayed until they felt like the Holy Spirit had exhausted everything they were to pray for regarding this topic and the job was complete. They then went on to the next topic, which was China, or something that seemed more important in the Kingdom of God.
Jan further related to Craig that she would not have remembered this specific instance of prayer, as they pray for things for which they had no natural knowledge of every day. So, this day was not particularly notable.
However, after the prayer time that day, another one of the students who was a member of that small-group approached Jan and told her, "Jan, I sensed that the airplane we prayed for has something to do with you.‚?Ě Jan thought for a moment and then replied, "I don't really know anyone who is involved with airplanes. I am from a small town in Iowa. It was a farmer I knew who had a small airplane, which I heard he sometimes flew in and out of his cornfield. But I really don't think it has anything to do with him. I really can't think of anyone else right now."
The girl in the group said, "Well, I don't know. I just sense that I was supposed to tell you that."1
What this powerful story tells us is that everything changes once we understand that prayer is not about trying to get God to listen to me, but it is about God trying to get me to listen to Him to be His representative on the earth to enforce His covenants.
When Jesus, the ultimate landlord, returns to the earth He will take back everything He leased to us on earth. We will no longer be responsible for planet earth after He returns. But in the meantime, we need to understand how to defeat the works of Satan. The Bible tells us this was one of Jesus' primary missions. "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (John 3:8).
When Jesus left the earth that assignment was passed to us.
For more on Satan's lies, see our 3 free videos http://www.3greatestlies.com/).