Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Faith is its own “proof” ................ Parables 556

May 13, 1997

What does it take to convince people to follow Christ? A Thailand missionary found out that a cloudburst can do it.

Lun Poobuanak, working among Buddhists and animists in Kalasin Province, was leading a small group during a Sunday service when the village leader interrupted him. “If you will ask your God for rain this month, all the 134 families in the village will worship your God and become Christians.”

Poobuanak realized their desperation. The monsoon rains had not come and their harvest was almost ruined. He also knew that God cannot be mocked or manipulated. However, these people insisted they were serious. They promised if they did not keep their word, “Poobuanak’s God” could judge them. Were they sincere?

The missionary gathered the few Christians in the village. They fasted and prayed for three days, trusting that God knows the human heart and would respond accordingly. On the fourth day, the heavens opened, flooding the canals and rice fields. Poobuanak reports that all 134 families humbly admitted that Jesus is the only true and living God and they became Christians. Others in the area are still following them into the faith because of this answer to prayer.

This incredible story from a missionary news service illustrates that God knows who is sincere and who is playing games. The Old Testament tells how the prophet Samuel was looking for God’s choice of a man to replace Saul as king of Israel. He was directed to the family of Jesse. As Jesse’s sons were brought to him, he thought the oldest must surely be the one. However, God said not, that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”

God knew that Samuel’s first choice did not have a heart for Him. It was not until Samuel considered David that God gave him assurance that this young boy would be a great king— that is exactly what came to pass.

In my own prayer life, I know the same truth. I cannot play games with God. If I know the right thing to do and ask Him to give me some sort of assurance, He is silent. If I am genuinely ignorant or confused and ask for His leading, He gives it to me. He knows my heart.

The same applies to those who are seeking God. Some merely mock as they make phoney requests to God. They are thinking, “If God is up there, then I need proof . . . I have to see first, before I will believe.”

On the other hand, if a person is sincerely and genuinely seeking God, God knows that too. I remember reading a story of a young man who kept asking God to reveal Himself. For instance, He was hitchhiking and prayed, “God, if you are real, have the next car stop for me.”

This is not a normal pattern because God is not playing games with us. However, God knew the young man’s heart and played along. Finally, the man was convinced and gave His life to Christ. Then, he tried one more time “just to be sure” but God did not play along. Faith was present in this fellow’s heart and he no longer needed “proof.” As the Bible says, faith itself is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is its own “proof.”

Sometimes it seems as if God is silent and not listening to my prayers or hearing my doubts. During those times, it helps me to remember that He knows what is going on in my heart. I have heard Him often in the past. He has faithfully revealed Himself to me already. I can look at Christ and do not need other visible evidence that He cares for me.

Nevertheless, for those who do need evidence, He sometimes grants other “proofs.” He wants sincere seekers to recognize that He alone understands the silent cries of the heart.

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