Late last Spring I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I put aside my own understanding of things and I asked the Lord if I was deceived. You’re probably wondering what on earth I am talking about. What brought me to ask that question is something that Jesus told His disciples in 3 out of the 4 gospels. When they came to Him and asked Him about the signs of the end and when He would return again, the first thing He told them was “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8). As I said, it is repeated 3 times, so I know that it must be important. The funny thing about deception is that it wouldn’t be deception if you know you are deceived. Think about that! So, I put on my big girl panties and asked the question: “Lord, am I deceived in some way?” I want to share with you one of the things He showed me over the course of these past weeks. Let me begin by asking you what may appear to be an off topic question, but really is not. Did you know that in order to bake something, such as a cake or bread, you have to use a specific formula? We call it a recipe but it is a formula because if you don’t use exact ingredients and exact amounts when baking, then the recipe won’t work. I forgot to add salt one day to my bread dough, and the bread didn’t have a good consistency. If you forget to add baking powder or soda to your cake, it won’t rise. So why am I talking about formulas? The first thing the Lord spoke to me about after I asked Him about being deceived, is that He is not a formula. He is not a recipe that requires certain ingredients to get a good result. He is a loving Father, who desires a relationship with each and every one of us. And yet, there are books, teachers and entire schools that teach formulas to get answers to prayer. He tells us to ask Him, to seek Him and to knock on the doors of heaven, but He never has us jump through hoops to get an answer. One of the Scriptures He gave me in response to my question is from 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”. Following Jesus is simple, but it is not easy. He requires purity and devotion. He requires our whole heart, not just some of it. He is a jealous God. (for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14) Satan likes a formula and if you can just figure out the correct formula that will appease him, then you can bypass a relationship with the living God. Let me repeat that. If you don’t want a relationship because that requires obedience, repentance, devotion, and other things that so many don’t want in these last days, then you come up with a formula to get what you want. If you don’t believe me then do a study on witch doctors and shaman. They all have formulas to appease the gods and if you find the correct concoction, the devil will leave you alone. In Exodus 32 we are told the story of Israel and how they made themselves a golden calf. They had Aaron, the priest of God, make this calf because Moses was taking too long on the mountain. How many times have we grown weary with waiting for our prayers to be answered, and looked elsewhere? If you continue to read the story, he molded a calf out of gold and guess what they called it? Jehovah! Yahweh, the eternal name of God! How many mental graven golden calves have I worshiped over the years, thinking that if I just follow them, I will get my answers quicker? Sooner. More easily? I think in the past, the Lord allowed some of these “Christian” formulas to work, because He is a kind and loving Father and He knew that many who tried the formulas, were ignorant, such as myself, and even innocent in their understanding of Him. But times have changed. I will be so bold as to say that any formula or recipe that you have to follow to get your prayers answered is based on witchcraft. Yes, there are witch doctors out there pretending to be Christians, giving us formulas to appease God. I was shocked that I actually own some of these books, have followed some of these teachings and wondered, why they are not working? So what did work for me? Simple devotion and telling my Father that I trust Him no matter what happens! I am loved and He is my Father. Jesus tells us in Luke 11:11-12 the following: “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” I am His daughter, His beloved, and if I choose to trust Him, He answers my prayers, not necessarily when I want or how I want, but He listens and He answers. No formulas needed. Trust is not a feeling. Trust is a choice and trust requires me laying down my own understanding and my need to be in control, and allowing Him to be God.