Sunday, December 11, 2016

Seeking God's will, Trusting God's will, and Being Satisfied with God's Will

I preached this at Antioch 1611 Baptist Church in Stewartstown, Pa. this afternoon;
What I have to say to you today won’t mean anything to you if your life and attitude is characterized by you having a disregard for God’s standards of morality, have a foul mouth, lack of impulse control,  or if you are covetous and consumed by lust for material things, food, or pleasure; or if you are filled with malice toward others, envy, are argumentative and rebellious, or filled with deceit, self-righteousness, like to complain about and talk about others behind their backs, are despiteful, proud, a boaster, always trying to come up with some evil little plan to overthrow someone or get around a rule, disobedient to your parents, with no more understanding than a squirrel, a covenantbreaker, don’t care about your family, can’t be pleased by anyone no matter what they do, and totally devoid of mercy or if you are a control freak or a worrywart. You’ll have to guess all the ones I’m guilty of.

On the other hand, if you are filled with the Spirit of God, and the proof of that exudes from you in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance then it is possible, even if you disagree with my examples or might have said things a different way, that you will walk away with something that will help you or make you think.

What I’m about to tell you has always plagued me and is very difficult for me to follow or understand but I am trying and constantly asking God to change me. We are going to look at two examples of men who accomplished God’s will, only in completely different ways. If you turn to Judges, chapter 6, look with me, if you will, at verse 11.

11 ¶  And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.

12  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

13  And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord (that is Adonai), if the LORD (Jehovah God) be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

Now, picture yourself coming to church and hearing a really good sermon or reading the Bible after asking God to show something to you personally that will help you. Maybe you’re ill, worried about a loved one who is sick, what to do about money or your job, maybe whether to ask a certain person to marry you, or just not sure about some other decision you have to make and nothing, I mean, nothing has gone right. You are worried, confused, and feeling helpless. The preacher is preaching about how much God loves you and died for you and rose from the dead for you. Or, you’re reading; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

And you say, along the lines of Gideon in verse 13, in your head. “Lord, if you really love me, if that’s true, then why is this happening to me? Where’s your great love now? I can’t deal with this uncertainty, this not knowing. Won’t you help me?” Maybe you remember verses that were taken out of context by some preacher when he said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Those words from Jeremiah 29:11 were referring to Israel not you. But you haven’t read your Bible enough to know that it is out of context so you cling to it.

Now, God told Gideon something and Gideon, as we all know, asked for a sign to prove this was true. In verse 37 and onward we have the story of Gideon’s fleece. You’ve probably thought this was pretty faithless of Gideon to doubt God but, as Paul said in 1Corinthians 1:22, the Jews require a sign and we know that Gideon did obey God but he wanted to make sure this was God’s will and only Jehovah God could do what he asked, such a subtle but remarkable manipulation of nature. Here, though, with you in prayer, pleading for God to give you answers, you are seeking God’s will. Maybe He gave you an overwhelming understanding of your situation as you read the Bible, asking Him for guidance. Maybe you now feel certain of what you must do. You’ve sought His will and you think you know what it is. You want to know with all your heart what God wants you to do. You want His perfect will, not just His permission, His permissive will, because God will usually let you do what you want until you figure out your way wasn’t the best idea. And so, you make a choice, or you accept your fate, or you have peace about what must be. But you sought His will. His will is everything. And you want to obey Him.

Now, let’s look at someone who did not lay out a fleece, who did not agree to do what he was told if God would just give him a sign. Paul determined on his own, his own spirit, lowercase s, that he must go to Jerusalem, then to Rome, that this is what he must do for God all the while God was warning him.

Acts 19:21  After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

            God would confirm that that was indeed His own will.

Acts 23:11  And 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.

But, did Paul have to go in chains as a prisoner? Why did he have to go to Jerusalem? The Holy Spirit warned him what awaited him.

20:22  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit (lowercase s, his own spirit) unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23  Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24  But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Did Paul figure that his work for the Lord was important enough to disregard the Lord’s warning? Would you? What if a man of God, after you’ve made your decision after seeking God’s will, say your preacher, warned you not to do something, told you what awaited you?

21:10  And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

And then Godly friends pleaded with you not to make the mistake.

21:12  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13  Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

Paul goes to the temple.

21:18  And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20  And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21  And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. 26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

But, didn’t Paul say he was the minister to the Gentiles in Romans 15:16? And yet, he persisted in going to dispute with Jews in synagogues wherever he went in spite of the fact that he also said Acts 13:46 that he was going to the Gentiles. And why did Paul circumcise Timothy in Acts 16 when he would say in Galatians;

Galatians 5:1 ¶  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

And didn’t he say that we are not under the Law? Paul isn’t being consistent.

Galatians 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

What do Gideon and Paul teach you here? Both accomplished God’s will but one had an easier time of it with less delay and suffering. Seek God’s will, believe what He promises, but compare what you feel led to do with the Bible’s clear admonitions, listen to men of God and godly friends and be consistent in your faith. Do it His way. Follow it right down the line and look neither to the right or the left. Importantly;

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

God will speak to you through the Bible, others, and your heart, then obey Him if you are submitted to His word. Seek His will. Listen to His warnings.

Trusting God’s will is not as easy. We want to hold on to the things and the people we love. We want to live. Death, not being dead, but dying, is a tremendous burden on our hearts and minds.

Hebrews 2:15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Jesus Himself experienced the fear of dying that anyone in a physical body experiences even though He knew He would rise again and that it was only temporary.

Hebrews 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

But, in the end, Jesus said;

Luke 22:42  Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Job made an incredibly strong declaration of trust in God’s will even though he had most of his family, his wealth, and his very health ripped from him.

Job 13:15a  Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:…

And in the book of Daniel we have an extraordinary story of three young men who are threatened with a fiery death if they do not worship a heathen king’s statue. Acknowledging that God could deliver them but also acknowledging that it might not be His will to do so it is said;

Daniel 3:17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

We have a promise, not clear in the Old Testament where the focus for the obedient Jew was a successful and prosperous and healthy life on earth and then death in old age, of eternal life with Christ. But, we can see by the example Jesus gives us that our fear of death and dying is not faithless or sin but merely an expression of being human. We also have an example of Job and from the three Hebrew young men of trusting God no matter what His will.

We’re sometimes placed in situations to accomplish a certain thing for God that, if we are resistant and untrusting, we cannot see.

We all know the story of Joseph;

Genesis 45:5  Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

So you guys sold me, he is saying, but that wasn’t you, that was God doing that to save all of you.

And Esther;

Esther 4:14  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Sometimes we expect God’s deliverance but it is clear He is not going to deliver us the way we might like. I’ve always been fascinated by this episode in David’s troubles.

1Samuel 23:10  Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. 11  Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. 12  Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.

I can see myself going, “Wait a minute?! Won’t you stop them? Divert their attention like you promised regarding the Assyrians in 2Kings 19? What about just killing them all like you actually did to the Assyrian army?

“God, am I going to lose my job?” I can imagine saying, expecting Him to say, “Fear not. You’ll not lose your job.” Instead, when I ask if I’m going to lose my job He says, “Yes, you’re going to lose your job.” Sort of a smack upside the head.

But, David escaped, Esther saved her people, and Joseph saved Egypt and his family from starving to death. God’s will, as strange as it may be to us or as not in keeping with how we would do something, is always sure and reliable. He may not take your advice on how to get things done but you need to trust Him.

The entire book of Job can be summed up in one sentence with God saying to you, “Listen to me, bad stuff is going to happen to you, and you don’t have to be the cause of it, but, trust me, I have it under control and I know what I’m doing.”

Trusting God’s will is essential to sanity when you’re going through Hell on earth. You’ve got to believe that He knows what He is doing with you. Paul, who probably had to be chained to a Roman soldier in a hired house to slow him down long enough to write those wonderful letters that are doctrine for the Christian, said;

Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Seek God’s will. Trust God’s will. Now, in America we are taught not to be satisfied with anything. Ed Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, created the modern American advertising industry, advertising which he called propaganda. He changed advertising to be from what a product did for you to how it made you feel about yourself which revolutionized the sin of coveting. Television is one giant scheme to make you dissatisfied with what you have and to want what Brad Pitt’s character, Achilles, said he wanted in the movie Troy. “I want what every man wants. More.”

Be satisfied with God’s will.

Sometimes you suffer because that is the way your testimony for Christ will shine.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Christ told Paul when Paul asked for his vision to be healed. (read Acts 9:8;18; Galatians 4:15).

2Corinthians 12:9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Your difficulties; including sickness, financial failures, family issues, and the like, as well as direct or indirect persecution can create much growth in your life as a Christian. They can make you more dependent on God. As has been said, “It’s easy to have faith, when you have nothing else to depend on.”

 Romans 5:3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

When you became a Christian and turned to Christ rather than the world, alcohol, drugs, pornography, sports and entertainment, and your job for meaning and purpose did you realize what you were taking on?

Philippians 3:10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

We have the opportunity in suffering and struggle to have a testimony of faith in Christ and acceptance, being satisfied with Gods will, that good times do not provide. Others see us if we are satisfied with God’s will and are amazed at our strength, although they might call it weakness at first. But it is something they don’t have, a confidence they cannot attain unto.

God wants you to be totally dependent on Him, not the government or the insurance company or an employer or a doctor. We need to be satisfied with His will. Now this doesn’t mean we repeat the errors of our ancestors. This does not mean that you don’t seek to be the best you can be or get an education or improve your lot in life. People a hundred years ago and older in many parts of the world believed that God gave you a station in life and you were wrong in trying to get above it whether you were a slave or a poor person. This is based on the rich and powerful’s own agenda, the power structure, in interpreting what Paul said here.

1Cor 7:17 ¶  But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. 18  Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19  Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 20  Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21  Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22  For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. 23  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24  Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Later in the same context he talks about being content with not being married. The point is that your status or condition are irrelevant to Christ. They do not reflect your position in Christ or where you will spend eternity, which is a long, long time without these things. Life in this flesh is almost over for many of us.

29  But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30  And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 31  And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

So, it is not a sin or faithless to get married, request a raise, or need a new car, or even ask to be healed. It just means that time is always short as far as we know or they knew and we need to be satisfied with God’s will even if we need a larger house to fit all of our children in safely and comfortably.

The important thing I want to say to you here is to be satisfied with God’s will. It may bring you joy or be very unpleasant temporarily, or even frightening. But, just remember this;

Hebrews 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

And remember what being dissatisfied with God’s will can lead to if you are not careful.

1Timothy 6:6 ¶  But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

We will face unpleasant things as we grow older in fallen bodies. Even men of God had to deal with this such as the prophet, Ahijah, so almost none of us are exempt, even the good, Godly, church-going, blood-washed, born-again Independent Baptist.

1Kings 14:4  And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

So, you see, God’s will can be very unpleasant for us now.

Some of the highest expressions of your faith in God are your seeking His will, trusting His will, and being satisfied with His will.

Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

1Peter 5:6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I want to leave you with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

Matthew 6:25 ¶  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Seek God’s will and His way. Trust God’s will. He knows what He’s doing. Be satisfied with God’s will. Accept what He is doing as good and right and desire to know what your response to it should be.

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