God is Love

God is LoveTo truly understand love, we need to look at characteristics of God’s love for God defines love.

— And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 Jn. 4:16)

An Acrostic about God’s Love

Take some time to get to know God’s love by reflecting on the characteristics used in the acrostic below. Hover over the Scripture listed with each trait to read it. The more fully we get to know this love, the greater will be our reliance on it.

L – Limitless (Ps. 57:10; 36:5; Eph. 2:4; 3:18; 1 Jn. 3:1)

In terms of vastness or greatness, His love can’t be measured.

O – Other-Centered (Jn. 15:13; Rom. 5:8; 1 Jn. 3:16; 4:9-10)

In terms of focus, His love always seeks the best for others even to the point of sacrificing for them.

V – Virtuous (Rom. 12:9-10; 1 Cor. 13:3-8; Col. 3:14; 1 Jn. 4:18-19)

In terms of quality, His love is full of integrity and goodness and always has pure motives and intent.

E – Enduring (Ps. 100:5; 136:26; Lam. 3:22-23)

In terms of time, His love never ends and will always define Him.

How God Answers Prayer

How God Answers Prayer Based on Who God is

Some believers have prayed in faith, believing with their whole heart that God would answer their prayers. How could it not be God’s will for what they prayed about to occur? Yet, despite their fervent pleading, the good they requested failed to happen. Experiences like this often raise questions about prayer. Is it not then possible that what seems to be answers to prayer are just coincidences? However, once we settle the issue of who God is, then we’re ready to accept how He answers prayer.

How God Answers Prayer Must Align with Who He Is

Prayer, and the way God answers prayer, makes better sense the more we view God for the great God He is —

all-knowing and wise as well as all-powerful,
sovereign and righteous as well as loving and faithful.

God responds to our prayers out of the sum total of who He is. Though He has the power to do all things, because of His omniscience, He knows certain things we ask for might not ultimately be wise and for our good. He loves us enough to do what is right and best even if we throw a tantrum because it’s not what we want.

We come to Him as a loving Father who will always do what is right and best. Consequently, answers to prayer may be yes, no, or not right now. This happens in the earthly realm when a loving father answers a child’s request with similar responses so it shouldn’t surprise us that God, who far supersedes imperfect earthly parents, sometimes answers no or not now.

Since our heavenly Father perfectly understands what’s happening, totally knows what’s best, and always responds out of pure motives (Lk. 11:9-13), He isn’t going to give us everything just because we ask for it. His objective isn’t simply to make us happy but to make us better (Heb. 12:5-11).

Some of the best answers to prayer may be the ones where He responds “no” because in the end, getting what we wanted may have actually done more harm than we ever would have realized or caused us to miss out on good we never imagined. Again, because we aren’t God, just like little kids, we don’t always ask for what’s good or best. Consequently, we may not always get what we ask for because God responds from a view of the big picture. Rather than let seemingly unanswered prayer shake our faith, let’s let God be God.

Who God Is Affects How God Answers Prayer

Answers to Prayer aren't just Coincidence

True, not all prayers seem to get answered. This can lead some to think those prayers that do appear to be answered may be mere coincidence. Before we jump to that conclusion, we need to understand that answers to prayers aren’t always what we expect.

The closer we walk with God, the more we can sense that He’s working in our lives nonetheless, even in responses to our prayers that don’t appear answered.

The deeper and more intimately we understand who God is, the more we identify His faithfulness to us in all things. Even when we don’t quite understand His response, we realize that He’s working for our best interest because He, being God, sees the big picture, which we don’t. The stronger our conviction about the greatness of God, the harder it is to believe in mere coincidences.

What We Know About God That Affects How God Answers Prayer

To understand who God is, we can look at what He’s made (Rom. 1:20-21) as well as evidences of His work in people’s lives (Rom. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 3:2-3) but most importantly, we’ll get to know Him through His Word, the Bible. To reconcile issues like how God answers prayer, we must look at the whole of Scripture and not just pull out isolated verses about God or rely on our limited understanding based on our experiences.

Here’s some of what we’ll discover:

1) We have an omniscient God. If we believe in His ability to know all things, and hence see the big picture, certainly He is able to know what is best. If not, answers may not result in what’s wise and ultimately good. Then we may get what we want, but lose out on what we need.

2) We have a sovereign God. If we believe He works all things for the good (Rom. 8:28), then however the answer to our prayer comes about, certainly God must have His hand in it. If we can’t be assured of His involvement, perhaps what appear to be answers could be mere coincidence. Then we might as well question the validity of bothering to pray.

3) We have a faithful God. If we believe He stays true to who He is and what He says, certainly He must keep His many promises about answered prayer. If not, He’s a liar who can’t be depended upon. Then He is not worthy of believing in or praying to at all.

4) We have a righteous God. If we believe He always does that which is right, true, good, and holy, certainly His responses to our prayers will not betray His own character. If so, He’s flawed and not reliable in His responses. Then He’s not much of a God and we may as well rely on our own finite understanding and abilities.

5) We have a loving, gracious, and merciful God. If we believe He truly cares about us, certainly He will answer in ways that bring about what’s best for us which may sometimes result in a “no” answer to prayer. If He always gives us what we ask for, even if it’s not for our good, He’s simply pampering us. Then He doesn’t truly love us for love always protects (1 Cor. 13:7).

If we truly believe God is all of the above, and so much more, then we’ve got to realize that just because we don’t “see” or understand how God answers, it doesn’t mean He isn’t working on our behalf. It simply means we are not God. There are a lot of things in life we don’t fully understand. Maybe we don’t know how electricity works yet we believe it will work when we turn on the light switch. We may not grasp a lot about how cars operate yet we trust that our cars will get us to where we need to go. But, let’s be clear: Things like electricity and cars can be faulty or unreliable when they break down. If God truly is all-knowing, sovereign, faithful, totally righteous and loving, then how much more we should rely on Him for He will never fail us.

So, the bottom line, when it comes to prayer, what do you really understand and believe about God?

Also Check Out: Theology Resources – Study of the God of the Bible

Answer to Prayer or Just Coincidence?

When asked by someone how we could know if something happened was truly an answer to prayer or mere coincidence, we got into a lengthy discourse. By the end, it all seemed to boil down to what we believe about the following:

1) Who God is

If God promises to answer prayer, what does seemingly unanswered prayer say about Him?

2) How God answers prayer

If some prayers go unanswered, isn’t it then possible that the ones that seem to be answered are pure coincidence?

The above two points go hand in hand. How God answers prayer flows from who God is. What God does must always  be congruent with His character. If He isn’t consistent within Himself, He can’t be depended upon. How do we know if He’ll actually answer our prayer? And, if prayer seems to be answered, how do we know it isn’t mere coincidence?

We humans struggle with consistency. God, however, for Him to be God, must always be consistent. — “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13) We must explain seemingly unanswered prayer in light of who He is, not on the basis of our own limited understanding or experiences.

Be sure to look for subsequent posts that will address these points.

For More: Resources on Prayer

Bible Verses for Ministry Alignment

Bible Verses for Ministry Alignment

When talking about ministry alignment we must not only focus on aligning our actions with God but also our thoughts and hearts with His. When we do, we’ll have more of a tendency of aligning with one another in our ministries.

What better place to learn about aligning than from God’s Word! Therein we learn about His character and ways.

Bible Verses Setting the Precedence for Ministry Alignment

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. (Ps. 25:4)

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24)

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster. (Prov. 16:3-4)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Rom. 8:29)

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph. 1:22-23)

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus … (Phil. 2:5)

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1:18-20)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Col. 3:23-24)

… it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13)

Bible Verses Pointing to Why We Need to Align Ministry with God’s Character & Ways

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. (Ps. 145:17)

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Prov. 21:2)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9)

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. (Hos. 14:9)

Bible Verses Providing Help on the ‘How To’ of Aligning with God in our Ministries

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. (Ps. 25:12)

I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. (Ps. 119:59)

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Ps. 119:105)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matt. 6:9-10)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Cor. 2:11-12)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:15-18)

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)

Spiritual Giftedness Is Not an Excuse

Benevolence, Christian Education, clerical, communications, counseling, discernment, hospitality, outreach, prayer, service-oriented ministries, shepherding, speaking, staffing, staff-support, teaching, visionary leadership ministries, worship — 17 different ministry areas listed at: Ministries to Serve in Using Your Spiritual Gifts — And, within those areas, many different tasks need to be accomplished.

God Empowers Believers with Spiritual Gifts to Accomplish Different Kinds of Ministry

MAX Pak Spiritual Gifts Curriculum
Click image for curriculum and resources to help everybody do their part.

God has provided different spiritual gifts so all of these varying kinds of ministries can be accomplished effectively through His power. We each have a part to do, using our gifts.

Some then pose the question of whether that exempts them from ministry for which they aren’t gifted. Is spiritual giftedness an excuse for not being benevolent or hospitable, for not witnessing, etc.?

Spiritual Giftedness Is Not an Excuse for Exemption from Different Ministries

If we make a list of all the gifts found in the key passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4), with the exception of tongues and interpretation of tongues, we can find counterpart commands for all believers to participate in activity similar to what would be accomplished through those different gifts. People with the corresponding gift, however, will usually be more effective, devote more time and energy, and see greater results in a given area than those without the gift. Yet, to an extent, as God gives opportunity, we are all to evangelize, teach, serve, show mercy, etc.

Consider evangelism as an example. Believers with the spiritual gift of evangelism will look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus. Their main ambition and priority in ministry will be evangelizing. Likewise, the primary focus of Christians with other spiritual giftedness will be on ministry using their gifts. Yet, because we’re all commanded to be His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:18-20 and witness (Acts 1:8; Matt.28:19-20), we still “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) to share the Gospel with others. Spiritual giftedness isn’t an excuse to disobey God’s commands about evangelism.

So, yes, do look for ministries that provide the best fit according to your giftedness. Focus your time and energy there, relying on God’s power to work through you for His glory. But, also stay open to God’s leading to step outside of your gifting and do your part to meet needs. Trust His Spirit to guide and enable you in the moment rather than using your spiritual giftedness as an excuse for failing to follow His prompting.