It has been said in military environments, “rank has its privileges”.  In other words, those of higher rank get to tell those of lower rank what to do, and enjoy more convenience, and get to do things those of lower rank don’t do.  Relationships between people have a similar parallel as well.  You wouldn’t expect a man who has just met a woman today to be speaking words of endearment into her ear, to be holding her in his arms, and being intimate with her, that’s just not normal.     Relationships are built over a period of time, and too many people today try to skip the “time” part, in a rush to get to the “good stuff”.  The results of a good, solid, time-proven relationship are trust and intimacy, and a sense of what the other person is going to do in any given situation.  The results of a “rushed” relationship are shallow and lack trust, and unpredictability.  Then when trials come in the relationship, the shallow one will not survive.  You read news stories of these overnight romances in Hollywood, but seldom do those relationships withstand the test of time.  There must be a reason why.
    As always, I’m making a point that can be applied to spiritual matters.  When someone begins their journey with God, a relationship starts getting built.  God already knows how you are going to react in that relationship years down the line, because He is God and has the ability to do so.  But you are not God, therefore, you don’t know how that relationship will develop, whether it will be weak or strong, even though YOU are the one which will determine that.  And by virtue of your lack of experience in that relationship, you don’t know how God will act, either.  Why do I say that?  I hear so many people saying “You just never know what God’s going to do.”  Now, either God is completely unpredictable and undependable, or else that person has not taken the time to develop a relationship with God, so as to know Him and what He will do.
    I’m going to give you two real good examples, one from the Bible, one from life.  The first is in Genesis 18:17-20, where God spoke this of Abraham;  Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.  Do you see that?  God knew how Abraham would behave himself, by virtue of a relationship with him.  People are creatures of habit.  You can predict by watching someone for a while if they will be dependable, or if they won’t.  God had grown to trust Abraham, and Abraham trusted God, and there was a relationship there that few enjoy today. 
 Did Abraham coin the phrase “Well, you just never know what God is going to do”?  I can promise you he didn’t.  Abraham KNEW what God was going to do, because He told him, and Abraham knew God was good for His word.  But do YOU?  Right about now you may be saying, “God hasn’t told ME what He’s going to do.”  Oh, but yes He has….it is written right there in your Holy Bible.  And God cannot lie, so if it’s written there, that’s the way it’s going to be.
    Now, I said I’d give you an example from life.  Those of you who are married, can you predict how your mate is going to react in a given circumstance?  Sure you can, if you’ve lived with them any length of time.  I have lived with my wife over 20 years, and I know that woman and exactly what she’s going to do, and by the same token, she knows what I’m going to do.  I may not know what YOUR mate is going to do, though, because I have no relationship with them.  But I’ve been building a relationship with my wife all these years, and we know exactly what to expect from each other, because we’ve taken the time to know one another.  Because of that relationship, I’ve grown to trust what she tells me, and I have no fear she will lie to me or stray from our relationship, and she can say the same of me.  We feel safe with one another, even if everything all around us is going wrong.  Does that mean everything is perfect and we agree on everything?  No, but we trust each other.
    Your relationship with God works the same way.  I remember the words from the Bible, seed, time, and harvest.  The seed represents the Word of God planted into your life. Now, it’s seed, TIME, then harvest, not seed, harvest.  You can’t skip the TIME part in the natural realm by planting seed in a field at noon, and going in two hours later to gather the harvest.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.  Nor can you skip the TIME part and harvest the benefits of a relationship with God, any more than you can with people. 
 Now, stay with me, I’m going somewhere.  It’s hard to try to convey in a few paragraphs what it’s taken me years to learn.  In the beginning of my walk with God, I would read things that sounded real good to me, for example one of my favorite passages in Psalm 103:2-3, Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.  I had just asked the Lord Jesus to forgive my sins and save me, and I believed in my heart that He had forgiven me, that I had been “born again”, for lack of a better way to describe it.  But I had cancer raging in my body, and I didn’t have but a month or less to live.  The Psalm stated He healed all my diseases.  Boy, I had to take that one on faith, because I sure didn’t see or feel any evidence of it in my body.  What was I to do?
    You see, I hadn’t had time to build that relationship with God, to know that I could absolutely trust what was written in His Word.  I didn’t hear any voices saying, Verily Verily I say unto thee, thou art healed.  Seriously, I doubt if God was to speak aloud to me that He would even speak “King James” to me anyway, seeing I’m from the Ozarks.  He would speak to me just like I’m speaking to you, in terms that are plain and easy to understand.  Why do I say that?  Do you and your family speak “King James” in your home?  No, and we don’t either.  But anyway, getting back to the point, I had an immediate choice to make, whether to literally take God at His word, or die.  I chose to take God at His word, but not everyone does that.  Some listen to “other voices”: doctors, family, rumors, fear, whatever, and therefore, some die of their diseases that could have been raised up whole had they only taken time to build that relationship with God instead of doubting Him.  As I said, a trusting relationship takes time.  Maybe you don’t have much of it left, but you can do what I did with the remaining time you do have, and that is, you can give it everything you have in you, whether you have a day to live, or five years to live.
    It’s been said that you can’t stop a speeding freight train in half a mile, and that may be true in the natural.  So the natural thinking is that even God can’t stop advanced cancer once it has its hold on you.  But that just isn’t so, and I’m walking proof of it.  God used that month I had left to live to build a relationship with me that has kept me well ever since.  I never went back to the doctors for treatment, in fact, they hadn’t even given me any options for treatment, but told me to go home and get my affairs in order.  Now, I suffered with symptoms of cancer for nine more months as I was developing my walk with God.  Keep in mind, though, I was only expected to live ONE month or less.  But the Word was working in me, turning back that cancer, as I was cooperating with God by putting earnest time into that relationship to learn of Him.  As I learned of Him, I found Him to be worthy of my complete trust.  At the same time, God was learning I could be trusted with the authority that comes with being a child of God.  Mutual trust was building by virtue of daily fellowship with the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
   Today, when people say to me, “You just never know what God’s going to do”, it saddens me because I know they haven’t put time into reading His Word and getting to know Him, else they would KNOW He does exactly according to His Word.  You see, God isn’t a man that He should lie, nor is He unreliable. God said what He meant, and meant what He said, and if we’re going to enjoy the benefits thereof, we’d better start taking Him at His word.  After all, if you tell the Lord you’re going to do something, don’t you want Him to believe you?  Don’t you want Him to consider it DONE when you say you’re going to spend more time with Him?  Then if you want Him to trust YOU, then YOU must also trust HIM.  And you don’t do that by praying for something, then when the circumstances make it look like you’re defeated, saying “Well I prayed, but….”
   That prayer was just shot in the “but”, because you didn’t trust God to do what He said He would do.  Blame God, or use a cop-out saying; ”I guess it just wasn’t His will”.  But the real blame is this:  You just didn’t put the necessary time into your relationship with God that it took to dispel your doubts.   The disciple we called Doubting Thomas probably was like that, because when the Lord Jesus appeared to the disciples inside of a locked room, Thomas was not there.  He was out doing “something else”, and whatever that something else was, it prevented him from being in that room praying and worshipping with the other disciples when Jesus showed up.  Something “else” was more important to Thomas that day. Let’s read it in John 20:19-29:
- Joh 20:19  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:20  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
Joh 20:21  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Joh 20:22  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Joh 20:23  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Joh 20:24  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
Joh 20:25  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Joh 20:26  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:27  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Joh 20:28  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Joh 20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    Something else may be more important to you today than spending quality time with God, and if so, how can you realistically expect to see the benefits of a relationship with God to be manifest in your life?  The mentality so prevalent today is to do the absolute minimum you can get by with, at church, at home, at work.  But take a good look today at your relationship with God: have you been feeding it your best, or is God only getting your day-old warmed over leftovers?  It is written in 1 Corinthians 11:31, For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
    Would you want to die and be ushered to the Pearly Gates of heaven, and told you can look all you want, but you can’t come in?  Would you like to only be halfway healed of your diseases, and remain sick the rest of your life?  No.  You wouldn’t want a part-time God any more than He wants a part-time servant.  God isn’t after “religion”, He hungers for a “relationship” with you.  And that full-time relationship has its privileges. It is written in Matthew 21:21-22, Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
 Friends, that’s a pretty tall order, but those are the words of Jesus himself.  That kind of privilege and power come only by virtue of relationship.  So if you want to walk in that kind of power, you know what you have to do.  Get to know God, spend lots of time with Him, trust Him completely, and make sure He can trust YOU.  And just watch the wonderful thing He does for you!