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As the disciples testified of Jesus after His resurrection and ascension, incredible miracles took place. All throughout the book of Acts, we read of how thousands believed on the Lord Jesus, lame people walked and the blind received their sight. As the educated theologians and experts in the Law watched the disciples and the miracles that happened through them, they wondered at their abilities. It says in Acts 4:13 that “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” True, compared to the theologians of their day, the disciples were uneducated men. These experts in the Law did have greater knowledge of God, probably more knowledge than all the disciples put together. But knowing about someone and personally knowing someone are worlds apart.
Please understand. You may know the Bible very well, even hold a Ph.D. in theology, extensively knowing Greek and Hebrew. But even with all this knowledge, you can be spiritually bankrupt if you do not know the Lord Jesus Himself. That which made the difference between the disciples and the theologians are the three and one-half years the disciples spent with Jesus. Even the theologians recognized this, realizing that the disciples “had been with Jesus.”
Spending time in the Bible does not necessarily mean you are spending time with the Almighty. In John 5:38–40, Jesus pleads with the religious leaders, saying, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Even though these men searched the Scriptures, knowing them inside out, His Word was not abiding in them. And in all their knowledge about God, they missed the most important thing—knowing God.
The reason this is so important is because it’s only when we come to know someone that we can trust and depend upon them. An example of this is found in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–29. The man who received the one talent buried his instead of investing it like the others. His reason for doing this? “ ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground’” (Matthew 25:24–25, NIV).
“I knew you were a hard man . . . ” and “I was afraid . . . ” The real problem is not that the man buried his talent but that he truly did not know his Master, hence there was no trust. This left the man looking for a way to handle the talent according to his logic. And when relationship is absent, so is dependence.
What are some signs or indications of someone who is not depending upon the Lord? I want to show you a few examples:
When a problem arises in your life, do you seek the counsel and advice of friends and the people you know, rather than turning to God first? When we choose to make anything other than God our refuge and strong tower, we turn our dependence from the presence of God and begin to depend on the counsel of friends. This is a dangerous trap.
When your bank account is full, do you just dish out money for anything, whenever it is wanted or needed? Or do you take the time to pray and seek God, waiting upon Him to speak to you and show you how to handle the resources He has given you? By always looking to Him, even in the good times, we show that our lives are fully dependent upon Him and Him alone.
Do you, as a parent, spend more time trying to figure out how to raise your children, what route of discipline is best and so on, rather than spending time in prayer for your children? Praying for and seeking to live a godly life before your children will make more of an impact upon your household than all the “how-to” books you could read.
When you are looking for a new job, do you automatically take the one with the higher pay and best benefit package, rather than spending time in prayer and fasting, seeking the Lord’s decision in the situation? God’s ways are higher than ours, and unless we take the time to seek Him, we can miss out on what He may desire for us. Maybe there is someone He wants you to minister to in that lower-paying job. By waiting on God to hear His voice and His direction, we are saying, “God, I depend upon You. Please show me Your ways.” And in that dependence, He is glorified and our lives receive His blessing.
Do you spend days preparing a message, studying different commentaries and books, rather than spending even half the time on your knees, waiting before God? When the time to hear from God is replaced with anything else, we essentially are turning our eyes away from God and depending on the information we can find, rather than on the words of life that only He can reveal.
When you are sick, are your first thoughts, “Where is the aspirin?” or “I must call the doctor!” rather than seeking the Lord to heal you? When we do this, we basically tell the Lord that He is insufficient and that we cannot depend upon Him to heal us. My brothers and sisters, may this not be so.
Please don’t misunderstand the point I am making. Medicine and doctors are not bad at all. The Lord has given them to us and heals people through their work. Seeking the counsel of friends is not bad, for we read in Proverbs 24:6 that “in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” “How-to” books are not bad; reading commentaries and searching biblical text are not wrong; good-paying jobs are not from the Devil. The whole point is where do our hearts look first? To all these things, or to the Living God?
There are hundreds of other ways I could mention of how our lives turn from dependence on the Lord. I pray that you would open your heart to the Lord and allow Him to identify these places in you. By doing so, He will be glorified in your life, and you will walk in His blessing because your heart is fully committed to Him. And the Lord has promised, to this person, He shows Himself strong (see 2 Chronicles 16:9).