Think About IT: God’s Will Is Not Always So Easy

Whether one has chosen the Lord’s will is not determined by whether things get better.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the cross that lay before Him, bearing our judgment, and that was of course the eternal plan of salvation; therefore, He made the right choice. He was in the perfect will of the Father.

However, immediately after the decision to follow the Father’s plan no matter the loss, things went from bad to worse, and then worse even still. He was betrayed by a friend, tried by hypocrites, innocent but declared guilty, denied by a disciple, rejected for a criminal, mocked, flogged, crucified, and ultimately enveloped in the wrath of God and abandoned by the Father unto death.

The Lord’s will is known by the Scripture rather than by what happens after our choice.

“And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will’” Mark 14:36.

Think About IT: My Will Be Done!

Prayer includes expressing our desires but never our demands. At times, we can find ourselves demanding of God rather than requesting from God. This reality is evidenced not in our words, but our response when God does not answer in the way we desired, demanded, He respond.

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reflects the heart of a true servant of the Father. He knew that He, as a man, merited heaven. As the God-man, He knew there were myriads of angels awaiting His command.

He also knew full well what awaited Him at the Cross. It was not the taunts, flogging, and degradation of man that caused Him to pray in the dirt and sweat drops of blood, but rather it was those hours He would be abandoned by the Father and hurled into the cauldron of God’s judgment for the sins of the world. The price exacted for sin in those hours could not have been paid by man, even if every human went to hell forever.

Jesus knew His options and prayed His desire to the Father to “let this cup pass.” And yet, with the hallowedness of heaven or the hell of the cross before Him, He willingly chose the Father’s will above everything else, “yet not as I will but as you will.”

This was not passive resignation or a mere prayer formula, but the prayer of total trust. Like Jesus, we should make our petitions known to God with total trust in God’s granting, delaying, or withholding.

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” Matthew 26:39.

A Prayer for Choosing Faith over Fear

I pray that You would grant me faith above my fear, and that my fear, no matter how dreadful, daunting, and hellish in velocity, would never cause me to shun the walk of faith. May my heart be willing to die where I am, lose all earthly possessions, be laughed at without mercy, and be capsized in the torrents of fear’s rage rather than to turn my back on the walk of faith.

May my physical and emotional traumas and ailments from the walk of faith through the lion’s den of fear be scars of faithfulness and not failure. Though my fear cause me trembling, may my fear not be allowed to displease You as I traverse the deep waters of depression, disillusionment, or human wisdom on my journey to Your chosen destiny. The things which kindle fear within me are ever so minor in light of Thy greatness as are the trials of some of my brothers and sisters in the faith, which serve as a humbling reminder of my weak faith. Grant that my weakness would display Thy strength and mercy.

Guide me through the maze of discerning the difference between faith and presumption, and may I fearlessly shun presumption, with its roots and nourishment drawn from the cisterns of pride and hell, and dwell in Thy chosen place of humility.

My dear wonderful and holy Lord, my eyes are blinded in the clouds of bedevilment which hide from me even my next step. May it forever be so that in You and You alone I trust to keep me on the path you have chosen. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Think About IT: The Losses of Trusting Christ

Salvation is free, but the life of faith can be costly indeed!

The history of Christianity is one of untold sacrifice by countless followers of Christ. They have given their lives in the darkest parts of the globe to share the gospel, stood and spoken the truth in love in loveless times, carried the burdens of others so that others may know Christ, and given time, money, talents, and security to be used in advancing the kingdom.

We are the beneficiaries of a myriad of Christians who lived their lives so that others might benefit. Their focus was on what they could do by the power of Christ for others.

In tragic contrast today, a growing number of those who claim to be followers of Christ are intently eager to evaluate how much God loves them by how much He gives them.

We should ask, are we any better than Christians who preceded us, more valuable to God or more righteous or more deserving? No, a thousand times no! We are called, just as Christ called them, to live so that others might know Christ.

“And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” Hebrews 11:36–40.

Think About IT: Meanness—Not So Difficult

We need no divine empowerment to be harsh.

It seems to me that we do not need the power of Christ in our lives to treat others hurtfully, unkindly, or dismissively. Christians seem to possess natural resources sufficient for the task of insensitivity. Of course, even carnal Christians are wise enough to masquerade such strictness as a righteous refusal to compromise, but it is actually a walk in the flesh.

It is the ability to express genuine godly and sacrificial love, longsuffering, graciousness, compassion, and gentle understanding that requires the Holy Spirit. Human righteousness is devoid of biblical love and grace. Biblical grace, righteousness, and strength flow from the Holy Spirit.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:19–23.

Godly Zeal: Maybe?

Zeal is not the test of godliness, nor can zeal make one godlier.

Zealousness can even be a detriment to godliness if one’s definition of godliness is derived from the intensity of one’s zeal rather than the clear teaching of Scripture. Frequently we find people who claim to be Christian, and may very well be, zealous about what they believe to be the true priority or expression of the Christian faith.

They often have some scriptures to bolster their defense that their way is the way. But one’s level of zeal is not the determiner of whether something is a legitimate representation of the Christian faith, and this even when the cause is noble.

Godliness drawn from and defined by Scripture should define our zeal, but zeal can never define godliness.

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” Romans 10:2.

 

A Prayer to Disesteem Me

I pray with John, “Oh that I might decrease that you might increase” (John 3:30). Let every compliment that I am paid because of my teaching, ministering, or helping people spiritually be immediately directed toward You, the rightful recipient. Let me not see myself as my friends or enemies see me, but only as you see me through the eyes of holiness, redemption, and grace.

Help me to see me last, lower than my peers, and may pride be immediately vanquished so that my mind may be stayed on You. May every compliment, every promotion, every success, every reward, every accolade, every accomplishment … cause me to give thanks to You the giver of all and never be a cause for boasting in me. And yet, may I ever so gently receive and direct those thoughts with regard to the giver so that my humility does not become false humility or hurt those whom You love and have been gracious through.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;” (Colossians 3:12)

The Choice of Humility

Since we are not God, everyone will be humbled.

There are three kinds of humility in the Scripture. First is a false humility, which is fashionably demonstrated by the Pharisees of the gospels as well as their contemporary protégés. Second is a forced humility, which is the lot of all who choose to exalt themselves and follow their own lead. Third is a chosen humility, which is the radiance of Christ as seen in His humbling Himself to die for our ghoulish sins.

These may be seen in order in the following scriptures. We should avoid at all cost the first, and unfortunately expect the second because we are fallen humans; however, if we seek chosen humility, we will honor God and diminish the frequency of even the second.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence” Matthew 23:25.

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” Matthew 23:12.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5–8.

Think About IT: The Danger of Self-Confidence

In the shadows of self-confidence lurk many dangers like succumbing to temptation, seeking self-glory, and hurting those for whom Christ died. Perhaps the most serious consequence of self-confidence is that such testimonial presents a false Christ to the world and thereby denies the gospel and the grace provisions of sanctification.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.

How Did Our Baptist Ancestors View Church and State?

John Leland, a Baptist preacher, “emerged a leader among the Commonwealth’s Baptists. He was instrumental in allying the Baptists with Jefferson and Madison in the bitter Virginia struggle to disestablish the Anglican Church and to secure freedom for religious dissenters.”[1] According to L.H. Butterfield, Leland “was as courageous and resourceful a champion of the rights of conscience as America has produced.”[2] Continue reading →