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December 04, 2017

Three Ways Your Faith Is Tested When God Says “No”


Psalm 23 Devotional by Pastor Colin Smith

Today we are going to look at the story of a godly man with a good heart and a great idea.

This story from God’s Word speaks directly to something all of us will experience. It’s one of the toughest challenges a Christian can face—when God closes the door on something good you hoped to do for him.

David had it in his heart to build a temple for God, but God said ‘No,’ and gave that privilege to David’s son, Solomon, instead (2 Samuel 7:13). The point isn’t that God doesn’t want a temple to be built. It’s simply that David will not be the one to do it.

Why did God close the door?

Why was David not allowed to do this, especially when Solomon was?

Why did God give a blessing, an opportunity that you desired, to someone else and not to you?

We are not told. “The secret things belong to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

How will David respond when what is in his heart is not God’s plan for him? How will you respond when what is in your heart is not in God’s plan for you?

When God says ‘No,’ your faith will be tested in three ways.

1. How well do you love God?

The first calling of God on your life as a Christian is to love him with all of your heart, all of your mind, and all of your strength (Mark 12:30). If it’s really true that you want to do something for God, then your love for the Lord will remain the same whether you get to do it or not.

David gives us a marvelous example here. He really loves God, and so he says, “Lord, you choose what I will give to you. I wanted to build a temple for your glory but if you want something different from me, then I want to give to you whatever pleases you” (2 Samuel 7:18-29).

David didn’t get the blessing of building the temple. But God had something else for him to do. God’s ‘No’ to David building the temple was part of God’s ‘Yes’ to the great contribution of David’s life, which was to establish peace by subduing the enemies of God’s people (2 Samuel 8, 10). For, Solomon could not have built the temple if David had not defeated the enemies and established peace.

What to you may be a great disappointment, may open the way to some other work that God may be calling you to do. That work may not be what you would have chosen, but if you really love the Lord, you will find peace in following the path that he has mapped out for you.

2. How well do you love others?

The second calling of God on the life of a Christian is to love your neighbor as yourself. That would mean loving others as much as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39).

None of us are there yet, but when God’s work of grace is complete in all of us when Christ returns, we will have as much joy in a blessing bestowed on someone else as we would have had if it had been given to us.

If building the temple really is for the glory of God, it shouldn’t make that much difference to David who builds it. To God be the glory! David would have had great joy in building a temple, but his joy was no less when that honor was given to his own son.

David is a wonderful example of what God’s grace can do. He is tested and he shines in 2 Samuel 7. He is a marvelous example of what is possible for the person who really loves God and really loves others.

3. How well do you understand grace?

Grace is all about what God does for us: what he has done, what he is doing now, and what he will do for us through Jesus Christ. It means that all of God’s kindness to us and all of God’s gifts to us are given freely—they are not earned. Grace is not a response to what we have done, nor is it a reward for the investment that we have made in his kingdom.

These verses that start out with what David wanted to do for God, end up overflowing with God’s grace toward David.

What God has done in the past

I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. (2 Samuel 7:8)

God stepped into David’s life and took him from the shepherd he was to the king he became.

Christian brother or sister, God has stepped into your life. He has laid hold of you and made you his own. In Jesus Christ, you are a son or daughter of God (John 1:12-13). You did nothing to deserve this. That’s grace!

What God is doing right now

I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. (2 Samuel 7:9)

God was with David at every step of the journey, including the times of his greatest disappointments.

Christian brother or sister, God is with you. In all you face and all you endure, God says to you, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)! That is God’s promise to you. God sticks with us, even when we are at our worst—that’s grace! And that grace is yours in Jesus Christ.

What God will do in the future

I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. (2 Samuel 7:9)

“David, who you are and what will come from your life is safe in the hands of God. You don’t need to fret about an opportunity that didn’t work out for you. Your name will rest, not on what you accomplish for God, but on what God in Christ has done and will do for you!”

Brother, sister, for all eternity, who you are and what you will be will rest on Jesus Christ and all that he has done for you. That’s grace—and understanding grace takes the sting out of disappointment!

When you know what it cost the Savior for your name to be written in heaven, for your sins to be forgiven, and for your eternal future to be secured, you will find great joy in what he has done for you, irrespective of what you may or may not get to do for him.

[This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon “When God Says ‘No’-Part 1” from the series A Leader You Can Follow.] [Photo Credit: Lightstock]

Colin Smith

Founder & Teaching Pastor

Colin Smith is the Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the Founder and Teaching Pastor for Open the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.
Colin Smith is the Senior Pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the Founder and Teaching Pastor for Open the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.