(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)

There will be times in your life when you are faced with two contradicting reports and have to decide which one you will believe. The Lord may have promised or told you something but the circumstances scream otherwise and the circumstances are so real, that you are tempted to believe them over what God may have said.

Once God said something, it will happen, for he is not a God that lies. On the other hand, the Bible states that the devil is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44).

When you are faced with two conflicting reports therefore, determine firstly the source of each. Generally speaking, when you have two conflicting reports, one is from God and the other the devil. You are therefore required to exercise your faith, irrespective of what you see, hear or how you feel, to believe what God said, over everything else.

Sometimes, circumstances exist which make you feel that the evil report is more likely to occur than what God has said. When faced with such situations, have faith even where what God said, seems to be impossible.

The Bible has many examples of people who received seemingly conflicting reports and we have the privilege today of seeing how things turned out for them and which one of those reports came to pass in their lives.

Let’s take a look at a few:

Paul at Jerusalem in Acts 23

Paul was held against his will at Jerusalem and was hated by many there because he had shared his testimony of his experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. While being kept at a castle, the Bible states in verse 11 that “…the night following the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

The Lord had therefore assured him that he would not be killed at Jerusalem but that he would survive this latest trouble and even go on to Rome to continue his Ministry. This must have been very comforting to Paul, as he knew that those who hated him at Jerusalem wanted him dead.

However, a conflicting report to what God had said on that night, came the very next day to his ears. The Bible states in verses 12 and 13 that, although God had given Paul a promise that he would live:

  •  “…when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.”

God had already spoken but yet the devil was busy trying to orchestrate a different outcome.

The technique he used is not new and is still used today. When God makes a promise to you, the devil at times, will mobilize and unite opposing forces, to try to keep that promise from being fulfilled. It doesn’t matter though, once you continue to believe what God has spoken. For, as Jesus once said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18).

The devil’s report of gloom and doom was communicated to Paul, by his nephew, who had heard what his enemies at Jerusalem were planning. In verse 16 it says, “And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.”

Paul was therefore faced with two reports: One from God saying that he would leave Jerusalem alive and unharmed and the other, that he would die at Jerusalem. Needless to say, the following chapters of Acts show that God’s word came to pass and the devil’s plans failed. Paul did leave Jerusalem alive and did arrive in Rome. AMEN.

Joshua in Numbers 13

While the Israelites were in bondage as slaves in Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses, giving him instructions to go back to Egypt to be used by God to deliver his people Israel from the bondage they were in. He told him in verses 16 and 17:

  • “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses obeyed and delivered the message and the people believed what God had said. The Bible states in chapter 4:28-31, “And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses…and the people believed…”

However, as soon as trouble began to brew, the Israelites began to doubt what God had spoken.

After Moses appeared to Pharaoh and told him that God had said to let his people go, Pharaoh was of the view that the Israelites were too idle to even be thinking of leaving Egypt. He therefore punished the people of Israel even further, by giving them heavier workloads than before, which for the most part, was unreasonable to meet by the given deadlines and resulted in them receiving beatings.

The people were therefore bitter towards Moses and Aaron, who they blamed for causing them to hope in what they had said God had said. Moses therefore took the issue to God, stating in chapter 5:22-23, “Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”

What we see again from this situation is that God had spoken and in response, the opposition intensified forces against the beneficiaries of the message, which made what was spoken, seem like it would not come to pass.

However, God’s word stands and prevails over all, even though he does it in his own time. In response to Moses’ enquiry, he told him to confirm to the children of Israel what he had already told them would come to pass. He had said he would deliver them from the bondage and take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. As far as God was concerned, it mattered not what the devil did through Pharoah to provoke the people or to intensify their burdens. His promise still stood. For he, the Lord had spoken it.

God reminded Moses, that he was the Lord, meaning that he was over all. He reminded him of his character of faithfulness, as demonstrated consistently in the lives of the ancestors of Israel, namely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said in verses 3 and 6-8:

  • “…I am the Lord: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage…And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm and with great judgments…And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.”

The Lord made the statement: ‘I am the Lord’ on at least three occasions, so as to remind Moses and the Israelites that he was the ultimate. He was the I AM, the beginning and the ending, the all powerful one. He was the one who had no rival and the one whose words are GUARANTEED to come to pass.

Sadly though, because of the circumstances they faced, when Moses told the Israelites what God had said again, the Israelites did not believe his report. The Bible says in verse 9 that “…Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage.” In other words, they dismissed it as impossible because of the extent of the pain and suffering they were going through.

Anguish of spirit and cruel bondage can sometimes make the children of God forget what God has promised or what he is able to do and in faithlessness, they let go of what they prayed and trusted God for because they think that alas, the situation is too far gone and they are too hurt, for things to be reversed. BUT GOD!

Indeed, the devil usually hits hardest and attacks the most when God has given a promise because he knows that it is only a matter of time before it comes true. When the opposition intensifies therefore and the adversity grows worse, if w have received a promise from the Lord, we must still believe it, for it shall come to pass, no matter what the devil tries to do or how long it takes to manifest. Keep believing until God is ready to do what he said he would do.

As God said, he did deliver the Israelites in his own time from the hand of Pharoah and from bondage and took them out of Egypt. However, he did not take them to the Promised Land immediately as some of the Israelites may have expected. Instead, they were led through some circumstances that they did not like and many of them complained instead of trusting God to lead them aright.

Nonetheless, God changeth never and his promise remained. When he was good and ready, he commanded Moses to send some men as spies to search out the land of Canaan which he had promised to give to Israel. He said in Numbers chapter 13:1 “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, WHICH I GIVE unto the children of Israel…”

Moses complied, sending one man from each of the twelve tribes, including Caleb and Joshua (who he referred to as Oshea). These men went, spent forty days and then returned to give their report. However, as the people gathered to listen, the report from ten of the men was an evil one, filling them with doubt and fear and leaving them to conclude that it was impossible for the Israelites to ever fight victoriously against the people and to take the land.

But hadn’t God already said, on at least two occasions, that they would?

The problem with these men was that they based their report solely on what they had seen in the land and allowed themselves to be intimidated by and not by what God had already spoken. They told the people in verses 27, 28 and 31:

  • “…We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land and the cities are walled and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and by the coast of Jordan…We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”

The Bible states further in verses 32 and 33 that:

  • “…they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

Notwithstanding, Caleb and Joshua believed God still, to take them successfully into the land and to give it to them because he had said he would. In verse 30, it states, “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses and said, Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

The people of Israel chose to believe the evil report of the ten though, despite the efforts made by Caleb and Joshua to remind them, that God was their defence and that he would bring them into the land he had promised them. They chose to spend all of that night crying, bad-mouthing Moses and Aaron, accusing the Lord of deceiving them and hatching a plan to make themselves a captain to take them back to Egypt.

In short, they chose to allow how things seemed, to make them believe what the ten men had said, over and above what God had promised.

Needless to say, due to their disbelief and rebellion, they decided not to even try to possess the land God had told them they would and as a result, God kept them out of the Promised Land until they had all died with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. He then took Caleb, Joshua and the children of the Israelites who had died, into the Promised Land several years later.

What a tragedy!

Believing the devil’s report over God’s is therefore dangerous and could result in your demise. Hebrews 11:6 states that without faith it is impossible to please God. 2 Corinthians 5:7 also reminds us that as God’s children, we walk by faith (of who God is and what he has said) and not by sight (how things appear or what we see).

Other examples

There is also DAVID, who God had anointed through his Prophet, while he was a shepherd boy, to be king over Israel. Everything that seemed contrary to this call however, took place in David’s life, as the enemy tried its very best to thwart God’s purposes.

David had to exercise strong faith in God and what he had promised, to continue believing because between the time of his being anointed and him sitting on the throne, he was pursued relentlessly by the sitting king Saul, who was purposed to kill him. Yet, no matter how the situation looked and what David went through and how hard it was to hide out in caves like a homeless person, God’s word still stood, Saul was killed in battle and David did eventually sit on the throne.

There is also the case with JAIRUS, who fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him to come to his home and lay hands on his daughter who was close to death, so that she could be healed. The Bible states in Mark 5, that Jesus began to follow Jairus in response to his request but before he could get to his home, many people followed him and thronged him. As a result, Jesus healed people on the way but then the news came that Jairus’ daughter had died. In verse 35 it reads, “While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?”

This was a bad report, enough to make any Father’s heart bleed with sorrow and that awful feeling of futility for being too late. Yet, the Bible states, “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”

Jesus was therefore urging Jairus to continue to trust that he (Jesus) would perform a miracle and help his daughter, despite the bad report he had just received, which suggested that the situation was irreversible and that he should therefore just give up and start mourning.

After all, despite the news, Jesus was on his way in THAT direction and something good had to come out of that. No matter how bad a situation has become, once Jesus is on his way to intervene, even if it seems to everyone that it is too late to make a difference, everything will be alright.

Despite the bad report received, Jesus got to the premises, informed all those who were wailing and weeping at the girl’s death, that she was not dead but was sleeping, received ridicule from them because they could clearly ‘see’ that she was dead and then…he worked a miracle!

Jairus’ daughter was brought back to life, much to the astonishment of everyone. Once again, God’s word and his power was proven to be greater than all because HE is greater than all.

The same principle applied to other people and situations in the Bible, like Sarah and Abraham, who God promised he would give a child to and kept that promise, although many years had passed and they were old and grey before his words came to pass.

It also applied in the garden of Eden where God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating the fruit from a particular tree, which he warned them that if they did, they would surely die. The devil then came along through a serpent with an opposing report but God’s word of truth, still stood.

After Adam and Eve disobeyed God due to Eve believing the devil’s report over God’s they both died, just as God had said, although not immediately. To this day and as a result of Eve believing the wrong report, we are all born under the curse of physical death, which is why we are mortal. Without accepting Jesus as Lord into our hearts and lives, we would also die a spiritual death after we have died physically, meaning that we would be separated from God and punished in hell fire, forever.

Finally, the report that Jesus gave in relation to PETER is what stood. When Jesus had died, rose again and appeared to his disciples, he informed Peter of what would happen in his life when he was old, giving him insight into how he would die. Yet, later, when Peter was in prison and apparently, not yet in his old age, the Bible states that Herod planned to kill him the very next morning, even as he had killed James.

Yet, Peter slept that night, it seemed, as if he did not have a care in the world. I believe he did that and had perfect peace which passed all human understanding because he remembered what Jesus had told him. He would die when he was old, so his end was not yet. He did not know exactly how things would turn out or how God would move but I believe that he knew that he was not going to die the next morning, no matter how resolved in his wicked heart Herod was to kill him. He believed the report of Jesus over that of his enemies and sure enough, the Lord delivered and preserved him. For, his time to die based on what Jesus had prophesied, had not yet come.

In John 21, when Jesus had spoken to Peter, he told him:

  • “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”

The Bible continues that “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

Later, after Jesus had returned to heaven and time had passed, in Acts 12:1-11, it reads:

  • “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also…And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
  • And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
  • And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
  • And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”

(Written on 22nd July, 2017)

I recommend that you listen to the following song on YouTub which has been a blessing to me, reminding me to believe the Lord’s report over circumstances, people’s opinions and my own feelings.

JUST BELIEVE by Ayanah Gordon -Wallace


Ayanah Gordon-Wallace Just Believe 

Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be informative, edifying or interesting, you may also be interested in reading the following:

  • Note 6 – ‘When God Gives You A Promise’
  • Note 36 – ‘Faith In God vs Faith In Circumstances, People’s Opinion’s and Our Own Feelings’
  • Note 82 – ‘Unbelief Cannot Come’
  • Note 165 – ‘Peter’s Imprisonment – Points I Gleaned From My Study Of Acts 12:1-19’

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