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There is a "but" that follows God's "if"

Ci'Monique Green

Typically, as Christians we have a lot of things we ask God for. Some are tangible needs - often under dire circumstances - others are spiritual fulfillments we're waiting on. We search Scripture over and over, proclaiming the blessings of the Lord upon our lives with powerful promises like the one in Jeremiah 33:3: "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." But how often do we let admonitions like this one in Isaiah define our personal path after prayer?

"If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." --Isaiah 1:19-20

The opening words of this passage are beautiful... A comforting promise to stake our happiness on. However, the perfect nature of God holds us accountable to the word "if" with an emphatic "but". For any believer who has not realized or acknowledged it yet, there is a consequence to disobedience. There is a price to pay for rebellion. We serve the Creator of the universe Who's laws are absolute, not relative. We don't get to rummage through and select which portion of His commands we'll obey, then still expect our lofty prayers to be answered. If we commit "high-handed sins", meaning deliberate transgressions against His divine Word with no conviction, we stand in tremendous spiritual danger. Yes, the Lord is exponentially gracious, which is why all of us still have life left in us; but when we, His people, grieve His heart with rebellious living, He makes sovereign moves in our journey to show us who's really in control.

It may be discomforting to hear, but many affirmative answers to our prayers are merely dissipating into the wind because of something we're doing that we refuse to stop. Some area of our lives that we won't yield to God's lordship. And no matter how much our well-being, happiness, and success may seemingly prosper in other ways, there is something that Christ is holding back from us as long as we rebel. How long are we willing to tempt God's grace and sacrifice our complete joy?

"If you love me, keep my commandments." -John 14:15