We all like to have things our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now,  things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

I’m constantly amazed by how practical and relevant the Bible is to us in our day. As an example, here’s what I learned from the Scriptures when things didn’t pan out the way I thought they would.


When things don’t go the way they should—at least, the way God said they would; the easiest and readiest thing to do is point a finger or fist at God and blame Him for the mess. Non-Christians are especially vociferous and vile, blaming God, whenever tragedy strikes. Some of us mouth off everytime we don’t get our way. Poor God!  He gets blamed for a lot of things!

I used to blame God in my younger days as a Christian. But the more I read the Bible and got acquainted with God the more I came to a point where I realized that A RIGHTEOUS, SINLESS GOD COULD DO NO WRONG. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO BE WRONG AND TO DO WRONG!  

  • Psalm 145:17 puts it this way, The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.
  • Daniel 9:14 says essentially the same thing: Our God is righteous in all the works that He has done.  
  • Deuteronomy 32:4 echoes the refrain: He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

There’ve been times when it sure looked like God was wrong. He messed up. He was unfaithful. But we will never, not ever, prove God and His Bible wrong! NO MATTER WHAT GOD DOES OR ALLOWS, HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT AND RIGHTEOUS. HE’S NEVER WRONG. HE NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE. HE NEVER MESSES UP—even when we think He did. Even when it looks like He did.

So if God isn’t to blame, who is? I hate to say it, and you’re not gonna like me for saying it, but sometimes—not all the time thankfully, but nevertheless sometimes—we’re the reason why things didn’t pan out the way they were supposed do. We messed up. THINGS GO WRONG WHEN WE’RE WRONG.

We don’t always know it. At least, not right away. Sometimes we refuse to admit guilt, blame, or responsibility. Sometimes we’re willfully blind, self-deceived, and engaged in a cover-up or denial. And at other times, we’re ignorantly blind: we just don’t see the true nature of things. In either case, when we don’t see, we need the Lord to open our eyes, our heart, and mind, to see where we went wrong.


Let me put this train of thought on hold and talk to you a little bit about myself. I love to garden. I get a tremendous satisfaction in planting a seed and nurturing it so that it gives me the veggies that I’m chomping at the bit to eat or can. It’s a lot of work, sweat, and time. But I get a lot of satisfaction doing the work.

It’s springtime here in the American Midwest and weeds are cropping up everywhere in my garden. I till the open spaces of the garden. But in the asparagus bed, as also in the strawberry and raspberry patch, I get on my hands and knees and pull each weed out. I’ve been that way about weeds ever since I was a young boy on Guam. I like pulling them out instead of cutting them down or hoeing. By pulling the roots out I get fewer and fewer weeds that way.

When we leave the roots in the ground there’s a good chance the weed will come back, sprout up, and grow again. That’s just the way it is.

This reminds me of the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. Some areas of the holy land were really fertile and lush. Others, rocky. And others, overrun with brambles, briars, and thistles. Like many of us today, farmers back then would cut these thorny brushes down, burn them in the field, then plant the seed. But as the seed was growing, guess what happened. The thorns’ roots that were left in the ground came back with a vengeance . They sprouted so many new thorny brushes that they choked out the good seed and the farmer never got a harvest.

Do you see what happened here? The soil was, from all outward appearances, cleared of thorny brushes. But underneath the soil, the thorny brushes’ roots were still there. They were still alive. And as long as these roots were alive, so was the problem.

Much like thorny brushes, in many of us there are underground roots that not many people see. These are the hidden loves, affections, lusts, and desires that we secretly long after and do unseen in the privacy of our house or room. If we don’t deal with these roots, if we don’t get them out of our heart, they’ll end up growing and killing us spiritually. They’ll render us spiritually barren or fruitless. Like the farmer, the spiritual harvest and bounty that we’re expecting just doesn’t pan out.  It doesn’t happen as promised. Why is that? Because the secret loves that we allow to remain in our heart will grow and keep us from bearing and enjoying the fruit. Left alive in our heart, our lusts will kill us someday. It’s only a matter of time.

So what’s the solution? You’ve got to deal with the root of the problem. You’ve got to get sin out of your heart and mind. As long as you leave it there and nurture it, they’ll keep the good seed of the Word from taking root in your heart, growing, and bringing forth the good fruit of change and righteousness in you.

When things don’t pan out the way God’s Seed said it would, when the fruit of the Seed is lacking; it’s not because God’s Seed isn’t any good. It’s not because it doesn’t work. The Seed does work. Just  not in thorny hearts or minds. Beloved, if you want good fruit, good results, God-promised results; you’ve got to get to the root of your problem. As long as the root’s alive, so is your problem. That’s one reason why things don’t pan out the way we’d like.


There’s a verse of Scripture in Galatians that puzzled me for the longest time. I mentally understood the words. I knew what they meant. But I just couldn’t see the spiritual meaning or sense of the verse. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t know why God said it the way He did.

Not too long ago, the light came on. I just love it when God does that! He gave me a peek into His brain and He explained why He said it just the way He did. And I marvel, once again, at the awesome wisdom that our God possesses.

Okay. Here’s the verse. God, through the apostle Paul, told us in Galatians 5:24, They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. God’s telling us here how we can know if we belong to Christ. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with all of its carnal passions and lusts.

The present perfect tense, have crucified, is what threw me off for the longest time. I knew that a lot of us Christians, myself included, weren’t crucified. Like most everyone else, we were living for self. The only time we’d crucify self was when we heard a particularly convicting sermon and our conscience wouldn’t stop badgering us until we dusted off our cross and reluctantly climbed up on it, screaming and arguing. Even though the cross was mostly nowhere to be found, yet we were, we are, we considered ourselves to be, Christians. We belong to Christ! Because we’re saved! We’re Christians!

If it was up to me I would have written the verse this way:  They that are Christ’s will crucify the flesh. Or, they that are Christ’s are going to crucify the flesh. Or, they that are Christ’s need to crucify the flesh.

But the Lord pointed out that, by making crucifixion something that needs to be done in the future makes it likely that it won’t get done. Have you ever told your hubby you were going to pay the bill, but forgot to?  Ever told your sweetheart you were going to stop and pick up a jug of milk, only to forget and come home empty-handed? Remember all those life goals and New Year’s resolutions that never made it past January or February? Doubtless, you know what I mean. Putting crucifixion in the future—like putting a lot of things—makes it likely that it’s not going to get done.

Okay, Lord, I said. If that’s the way it is, then, at the very least, I would have written Galatians 5:24 this way, They that are Christ’s are crucifying the flesh. Ahhh, I said in contentment and delight. This is a fool-proof way to say it. Christians are crucifying the flesh. They’re doing it! It’s in the process of getting done! What could possibly be wrong with saying it that way?

Well, that’s not what God said. That’s what’s wrong with making crucifixion a present tense, on-going thing.

Have you ever started a project you didn’t complete? Did you ever leave something undone? Are you getting the drift here?, the Lord asked me. Yeah, it’s a great thing to get started on crucifixion and to be actually doing it. Great job! But starting the job doesn’t mean it’s going to get done. Every one of us has started to do something, only to quit before the job was done.

So, while crucifying our flesh right now is truly a good and commendable thing, it’s not enough. God wants the crucifixion done. He wants the selfish will killed. He wants the carnal, sinful lusts dead. And, seeing how crucifixion is painful, knowing how hard it is to die, there’s no guarantee we’re going to stay on the cross until we’re dead. We’ve all come down from the cross before death set in. We’ve all walked away from the cross, bleeding, hurting, partially crucified. But with selfishness still alive.

That’s why, God said, I made crucifixion present perfect tense. Have crucified means My children not only went to the cross, they not only got on the cross, but they stayed there until the mission was accomplished. Until death set in.

So do you want to know if you belong to Christ? It’s simple. Are you dead? Are you dying? I’m talking about what you’re doing with self-will, selfish desire, carnal, sinful lusts. Are they dead? Are they in the process of getting nailed and dying? Or is the cross even around? Is it anywhere in sight? I see the flesh. But where’s the cross?

Now just so you know, I know there’s a lot more to salvation than just the cross. Galatians 5:24 may be in the Book, but so in John 3:16. I know that. I’m not out to tell you you’re not saved. God forbid! I want you to be saved! You’d better be saved!

All I’m saying is, don’t stop there. John 3:16 is a start, but Galatians 5:24 comes after it. After faith comes the cross. Let’s not get so focused on believing that we forget all about dying to self. Galatians 5:24’s in the Book and we ought not forget it. We ought not forget our cross.

YOU CAN’T BE CHRIST’S WITHOUT YOUR CROSS. YOU CAN’T BE HIS IF YOU’RE YOURS. IF FLESH OR SELF IS ALIVE. They that are Christ’s crucify their flesh and they keep on crucifying it until they’re dead. They don’t get off the cross when it gets too hard. Too painful. Too personal. Too costly. They stay put on the cross until the desire for sin is killed and gone and the hunger for holiness brings them to life. That’s the mark of a true Christian. That’s how you tell if you are Christ’s.