Pastor Mark Stephens
Are You Limiting God?
Pastor Mark Stephens
Jul 1, 2009
ARE YOU LIMITING GOD?
What are limits? Limits are boundaries. We all have them. Every one of us have circumstances and limited ways of thinking. When Jesus comes into our heart, He wants to remove the limits we have rooted in our lives that hinder us.
There is a distinction between good limits and bad limits. Good limits are limits that keep us from doing something foolish and hurting ourselves or someone else. Bad limits are limits that hinder us and keep us from experience the best that God has for us.
We should all understand that we need to set good limits. The limits we need to eliminate are the limits that have kept God from fulfilling His purpose and plan for our lives. God desires for us to live a life with no limits that brings glory to Him and joy for you and I.
The stories of the Bible are there for our instruction. Your Bible talks about how God was limited by Israel in the wilderness. Limits grieve God. “Well, preacher, God is not limited.” Unfortunately, He is by our unbelief and thinking. Read if you will Psalm 78:40-41:
The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. God used Moses to deliver them and set them free. But were they free? They were out Egypt, but Egypt wasn’t out of them.
If you’ve read any in Exodus you know how Moses by the power of God parted the Red Sea and Israel walked across on dry land. You also know that when the Pharaoh tried to follow, his army was drowned when the waters came crashing back into place. Israel rejoiced in the triumph over their enemy in Exodus 15:1:
God continued time after time to do mighty deeds for His people. He met their needs in the desert. He supplied bread in the morning (manna), meat (quail). He gave them water from a rock. A pillar of fire at night for heat. And a pillar of a cloud in the day for shade.
God moved the Israelites from Egypt. He delivered them from their enemies. Their needs were met. The lived in the presence of God. They were free, but as I mentioned they didn’t act free. They still had the slave mentality.
The Israelites that were slaves in Egypt did not make it to the promised land. They rebelled against God and died in the wilderness. Their unbelief kept them from receiving the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey.
The Israelites forgot how God had done marvelous things for them. They did not believe they could take the land. All they had to do was believe God and obey Him and they would have been allowed to live in their Promised land.
Only two men had faith to believe they could have the Promised Land: Joshua and Caleb. Of all the slaves who left Egypt, they were the only two who were allowed into the Promised land. It was left up to the children of the ex-slaves to possess the Land of Promise. These children of ex slaves along with Joshua and Caleb went on to receive by faith and obedience the inheritance God had promised their parents.
LEARNING FROM ISRAEL’S EXAMPLE OF UNBELIEF
Earlier we talked about how Israel limited God while in the wilderness. We can learn several things from these passages. They provoked God. They grieved God. They tempted God. They limited God. They forgot how He had miraculously saved them from slavery!
Let’s look deeper into these verses and learn how they limited God. Let’s learn from their example of unbelief and make the same mistakes they did and miss the blessings God has for us.
Provoking God means they rebelled against God. Rebellion is an evil thing to God. Rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft (1st Samuel 15:23). Rebellion is saying no when you should be saying yes. Rebellion is stubbornly going against God when He is trying to lead you forward.
God instructs us in many ways. He may use the Bible, or His Spirit, or even a person. He has many pastors, evangelists, prophets, teachers and apostles to help us. When you rebel against Him by rejected the counsel of these tools, you provoke Him.
You demonstrate unbelief when you rebel against God. You are basically saying, that your way is better than God’s way. You show you do not trust God and His goodness. Rebellion is a lack of understanding and appreciation of God’s true love and concern for you.
Because Israel did not believe God they turned back. The Bible says they limited God. Anytime you turn back your forward motion, you limit God. He cannot help you when you turn back.
The Apostle Paul told the Galatians he was concerned for them because they had turned back to bondage after they had known God. Instead of trusting in Jesus and moving forward in freedom, they turned back to dead elements of religious bondage.
Religious bondage is a product of man’s desire to control people with religious legalism. God had set the Galatians free from this and yet decided to turn back. Once you are free from those things that had you bound, turning back to them is never acceptable.
Jesus told His disciples that(Luke 9:62). This is what we call backsliding. You limit God when you backslide and return to a life of disobedience to God!
Jesus withstood temptation. He would not fall for the devil’s tricks. Jesus did not limit God. He was the perfect example of the unlimited potential of God.
In this temptation the devil quotes scripture to Jesus and asks him to throw Himself down from the top of the temple to prove to everyone that He is the Son of God. You tempt God when you misapply the Scriptures. The Scriptures were given to do the will of God, not the will of the devil or man.
We must believe by faith that God will do what He says He will do in His Word. We should not need miraculous sings from God to have faith. Jesus taught that(Matthew 12:39). When you ask God for miraculous signs to help you believe, you are tempting God. Belief does not need signs.
Miraculous sings should be a product of faith. We should have signs following our faith, not preceding it. When you reverse the order and require a sign first to believe, you are tempting God.
Let us not forget what God has done for us! When you forget where you were before Jesus came into your life, you limit God. You must remember what you were saved from and Who saved you. Remember Who brought you from your lostness. Remember who delivered you. Remember who healed you. Remember what Jesus has already done for you.
Sometimes it is easy to forget what God has done for us in our lives. When we come across a little problem, a little trial, a little obstacle, we soon forget what God has done for us. Reminding ourselves of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the past helps us to have faith in God for the present. We must realize that(James 1:17). He is the same God as He has always been (Hebrews 13:8). We are the ones who need to change.
Faith in God and His promises is the answer for unbelief. Faith in God releases you from the grip of unbelief and takes you into new territory. Faith in God allows you to receive from God all He has planned for you.
Unfortunately, many people never receive all God has planned for them. We fail to appropriate these blessings by faith, and we fail to partake of the best God has for us because of unbelief.
The Israelites who died in the wilderness limited God. It was not God’s intention for them to die in the wilderness. He wanted them to believe and trust in Him. He wanted them to enter into the Promised Land. They rebelled against God and died. We need to consider these things and avoid being left in our own wilderness. Their example is given to us so we can have faith in God and not limit God with our unbelief. Walking in faith is the remedy for unbelief. Walking in faith releases you from limits and helps you enter into the Promised Land of unlimited potential