Prayer: The Way to Be Co-controller of the Universe 8/2/98

Matthew 6:5-13
Page 1416 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST taught us to pray. He set the example for us in prayer. He prayed: at His baptism, temptation, transfiguration, Lord’s Supper, Gethsemane, and briefly on the cross. There was only one period when He did not pray. That was when the sins of the world rested on Him on the cross. That in part explains why so many people are not praying today – SIN.

An overly simplistic descriptive explanation of prayer is simply finding God’s will and praying “Thy will be done.” In this manner one becomes co-controller of the universe. It is done by the will and power of the other co-controller.

Throughout the Bible it is as though God is begging us to talk to Him, to pray. His telling us to pray is like a parent telling a child to clean up his or her dirty room. The parent doesn’t tell the child to clean up the room simply because he or she wants the child to know it is dirty. The parent wants action. For the same reason God tells us to pray. He want’s action.

On a recent flight across our great land I noticed many major rivers and large lakes. These represent large reserves of energy. Most of them were not being used to supply our country with the much needed power. A greater waste is our failure to pray.

In Queensland, Australia some poor workmen tried to eke out a living on a plot of land. They lived in poverty not knowing that there on Mt. Morgan beneath their feet was one of the largest gold deposits in the world. They lived in bread lines with gold of inestimable value beneath their feet. Many Christians are living as spiritual paupers because they have failed to use their greatest right – the right of prayer.

Trials and tribulations are gold mines from which we get some of life’s greatest prizes.

“Lord, when am I going to get out of this?,” instead of, “Lord what am I going to get out of this?”

One of the biggest blessings in a person’s life is helplessness. When this is realized persons respond to God in prayer. As a result many persons are aware of their helplessness today and are turning to God.

There is a prayer meeting every Monday morning at 6:00 AM in the office of General Mathis, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, in the Pentagon.

Numerous prayer meetings are conducted each week on Wall Street.

Satan trembles when he sees – the weakest Christian on his knees.

Prayer is not:
A supernatural credit card.
A magic wand to wave to keep evil away or a lucky rabbit’s foot to bring good fortune.
An opiate to tranquilize nervous Christians.
A campaign to persuade God to do something.

To whom do you pray? Jesus taught us to pray – “Our Father…” In praying most persons are more concerned with what they are praying for than with the One to whom they are praying. Pray to God. Think not about your weakness but about His strength. It may be acceptable for a child to give its dad a Christmas list of things desired, but if that is the only relationship they have it is not a good one. Don’t treat God like a Santa to whom you present your list of wants.

In whose name? Jesus taught us to pray in His name. Just tacking the words “in Jesus name” on the end of your petition does not make it a prayer offered in Jesus name. It is not a verbal spell, but basing our requests on Jesus saving relationship. To pray in His name is to pray as His proxy. It is to pray as one with Christ, one whose mind is the mind of Christ, whose desire is the desire of Christ, whose purpose is the purpose of Christ.

We must not ask Him to contradict Himself and violate His will (I John 5: 13-15).

Young Robert Louis Stevenson said to his mother, “You can’t be good without praying?” She asked how he knew with such certainty. He replied, “I have tried.”

Pilgrim’s Progress: Christian making his way toward the eternal city. His back was burdened with sin. He came to Calvary, knelt, and prayed. His sins were loosed, rolled down the hill into a sepulcher and were buried forever. Then he said with a merry heart, “He has given me rest by his sorrow and life by his death.”

“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). Note, they did not say teach us “how” to pray. Most people know how to pray they simply don’t do it. Follow His example.

You might question how to get to a certain place. The answer might be given: “Go to the second red light, turn left, go 6 blocks past the little white church, turn right, go 7 blocks…you can’t miss it.”

Such might be confusing.

You might ask another the same question and the response might be: “Follow me and I will direct you.” Thus, the way becomes clear. Following Christ’s example in prayer sets a good standard.

Don’t try to pray with unconfessed sin in your life. Don’t try to pray in a state of disobedience. Don’t harbor a secret sympathy with sin.

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).

NASA reports that the slightest piece of lint from clothing or moisture from a fingerprint can make a sophisticated guided missile traveling twice the speed of sound miss its target. Sin causes our prayers to be off target also.

Prayer has as much to do with what we do when not praying as what we say when praying.

There is a difference in air and breath. Air is all around us. It is presently bringing 14.7 lbs. of pressure per square inch on you. Only when it is allowed to enter us does it become breath. As with air, God surrounds us at all times. When you relax and let air in, it becomes breath. When you relax spiritually and let Christ into your thoughts, that is prayer. It is letting God in.

The sinning man will stop praying – the praying man will stop sinning.

Prayer is simply profound and profoundly simple.

Preacher who is not praying is playing.

People who are not praying are straying.

In prayer put your all on the altar and don’t alter the altar. It is a place of sacrifice.

The love of God wants the best for us.

The wisdom of God knows the best for us.

The power of God can accomplish the best for us.

Let your prayer be natural. Don’t put a steeple in your throat and act like you are speaking through stained glass. Don’t impose on God like a child leaving a test praying, “Please make Macon the capital of Georgia.” Prayer is supernatural but it is not anti-natural.

The answers to prayer are: YES, NO, and YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!

In reality the answers are: yes, no, or an EXPLANATION; “My grace is sufficient…” Where did the idea originate that NO is not an answer.

We often say, “Prayer works,” and it does. By that we most often mean we got a direct “yes” answer to a prayer. However, not all prayers get a yes answer. However, prayer still works in that it increases our fellowship with God. It draws us closer to Him. It renews and refreshes us. It makes us aware of our dependence on Him.

The pretense of prayer should never be a sly way of gossiping or spreading a rumor. On occasion it is used as a cover for gossip. “I want to share this with you as a matter of prayer concern. Do you know ….”

Prayer should never be used as an indirect method of solicitation. “I have been praying for a…. Pray with me about it.” Prayer is to God. It is not in order that we might be heard.

Roger Staubach, the outstanding quarterback for the U.S. Naval Academy and Dallas Cowboys was followed at Navy by Bruce Bickle. They were close friends. After their stints in the Navy Roger became quarterback for the Cowboys and Bruce became an FCA staff member.

Bruce was a mature Christian and at a stage in his spiritual growth Roger called Bruce and asked that he be permitted to call him long distance each night for a Bible study by phone. This they did for some time.

Bruce was surviving on a meager FCA income and had need of a car. He had been praying for some time for a car. He never mentioned this to Roger who was doing very well on his NFL salary. One evening Roger said, “Bruce, I have just been given a car as the outstanding player in the Super Bowl. I don’t need another car. Can you use it?”

Who answered that prayer God or Roger. I think Roger and Bruce would both say God. Had Bruce been telling Roger he needed a car it might have been simply Roger’s kindness responding to a need. However, Bruce gave God the opportunity to work in supplying his need.

Consider these A, B, C’s of prayer:

ACCEPT. Prayer is the ability to accept. It is not merely the ability to be immune or exempted from a difficult situation. It is the ability to transform difficult situations and conditions.

Paul had a thorn in the flesh which he desired to have removed (I Corinthians 12: 1-10).

It was not. Instead, through prayer it was transformed into an occasion for God to demonstrate His grace.

Jesus in Gethsemane transformed agony into glory.

BEAR. Prayer is the ability to bear. In our human condition there are inevitably conditions we feel we can’t bear. Most have faced such grim circumstances. Prayer is not an escape route. Prayer gives us the ability to face the unfaceable, to bear the unbearable, to pass the breaking point without breaking.

COOPERATE. Prayer gives us the ability to cooperate with God.

Prayer is not a way to push things off on God that we might do for ourselves. It is asking Him for the enabling power to do things for Him. If it is ever turned into an attempt to get Him to do things for us that we should do ourselves it is bad. Such would make us spiritually lazy and flabby. Prayer gives no person the right to sit idly and wait. Instead it gives courage to rise and risk.

When we pray and set about to do all we can then we realize a new dynamic has entered our life. Prayer is not saying, “Dear God, please do for me what I want,” but, “Please do in me, with me, and through me what you want.”

Know the difference in a PROMISE and a FACT. Pray the promises. A promise has a condition. A fact is a reality without condition.

We are encouraged by some to pray the promises and it is a good idea. However, we must not confuse a proverb, a parable, or a prophecy with a promise. Some doing so are confused as to why God doesn’t respond. We are to pray the promises after complying with the conditions.

Jesus said: “Whatsoever ye ask in my name, that will I do…”

John 14: 13,14: The condition is “in my name,” that is, as My proxy. This means to pray what you think Jesus would pray if He were in your situation.

Abraham “staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to Glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4: 20, 21).

We are not authorized to claim anything God has not promised.

James 4:3, “Ye have not because ye ask not…consume it unto your own lusts.”

There must be a cleansed life. Psalms 66:18 calls spiritual contamination “iniquity”. It does not make sense from a Biblical standpoint to pray for anything if there is unconfessed sin in our life.

The Psalmist said it clearly, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm. 66:18).

Solomon in his wisdom wrote: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Is. 59: 1,2).

James 5:16 gives us insight into the opposite of this: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

I John 1:9 tells us how to have our sins removed and become the righteous person with prayer potential.

There must be obedience. I John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing to Him.”

Open My Eyes Lord

Sometimes incidents and sometimes individuals give us great pain. One of my favorite characters, Booker T. Washington, once said, “I will permit no man to narrow and degrade me by making me hate him.” Resolve to let no individual or incident narrow and degrade your soul.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.” If you harbor anger it may lead to rebellion against God.

Inordinate anger blocks the road leading to blessings God has in store for us. It inhibits our vision of good things that might be.

We profess to want God’s guidance. However, only when we do what He has instructed us to do will He guide us to do more. Understanding God’s will is very much like driving a car at night with lights on. You can see only so far. However, as you drive further you can see more. If you stop your extended vision ceases. When you go as far as you can see you can see further. Go as far as you can see and you can see further. When we do what God reveals for us to do then He reveals more for us to do. This He does in strange ways.

If we are not doing His will why should He reveal more things for us not to do. Doing His will increases the range of our faith beams. God often does simple things to significantly reassure us.

From the dark hours of World War II emerged the story of an humble French pastor and his family that lived through those difficult years. The mother in the family hand wrote over 200 Scripture promises and kept them in her “promise box.” Each day the family drew out a promise and reflected upon it together. 

During the most difficult of days during the war food became scarce. They resorted to eating potato soup made from peelings scavenged from German dining halls. The children became emaciated; they cried for food. In one of their most desperate moments the young mother cried out to God for reassurance. She prayed, “Lord, I have such a great need. Is there a promise that is really for me? Show me, O Lord, what promise I can have in time of nakedness, peril, and sword.”

She was blinded by her tears as she reached for her “promise box” and accidentally knocked it over. The promises showered around her, on her lap and on the floor. In a moment of supreme joy she realized that all the promises were indeed for her in the very hour of her greatest need. She was refreshed to remember that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. His promises are intended to refresh and renew us — to restore our soul.

Pause and resolve these three things.

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade me by making me hate him. I will do what I know to do and anticipate more to know and do,

I will be sensitive to God’s shower of promises every day.

With All My Heart

The word heart occurs 862 times in the Bible.  Half of those times are mentioned in the Wisdom Literature and the Prophets. 

An understanding of how the word “heart” is used in Scripture is beneficial. 

Often the word “heart” refers to the organ, however, what the word “heart” stands for is how it should be understood most often.

The Hebrew word for heart in the Old Testament was “Lev” and it wasn’t a body part to the Israelites. They had a broader understanding of heart than we do in our modern context. They thought of the heart as the organ that gives physical life and the place where you think and make sense of the world—where you feel emotions and make choices.

The New Testament Greek word for heart is kardiá. It was used to refer to one’s entire emotional nature and understanding. The heart was the organ that was believed to have the ability to reason, question, meditate, motivate, and think.

There was a time when it was believed thoughts originated in the heart, were carried to the brain by the blood and there became conscious thoughts.

In the Bible the heart is the locus of physical and spiritual being, and represents the “central wisdom of feeling as opposed to the head-wisdom of reason.” It is compassion and understanding, life-giving and complex. It is a symbol for love. Often known as the seat of emotions, the heart is synonymous with affection.

The commentator Alford says, “The word ‘heart’ in Scripture signifies the very core and center of life, where the intelligence has its post of observation, where the stores of experience are laid up, and the thoughts have their fountain.”

Now when you read the Bible and come to the word heart think of it not merely as an organ, but in light of this understanding as:

The center and seat of spiritual life.

The soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors.

Of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence.

Of the will and character.

The seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions.

Secondarily, apart from the Bible, as far back as the ancient Greeks, lyric poetry identified the heart with love. Greek philosophers agreed, more or less, that the heart was linked to our strongest emotions, including love. 

In antiquity the current heart shape, which really isn’t shaped like a heart, came to symbolize love. The most unusual theory concerns how this shape came to represent the heart relates to the plant silphium, a species of giant fennel that once grew on the North African coastline near the Greek colony of Cyrene. The seed pod was heart shaped. The ancient Greeks and Romans used silphium as both a food flavoring and a medicine—it supposedly worked wonders as a cough syrup—but it was most famous as an early form of birth control. 

Ancient writers and poets hailed the plant for its contraceptive powers, and it became so popular that it was cultivated into extinction by the first century A.D. (legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero was presented with the last surviving stalk). Silphium’s seedpod bore a striking resemblance to the modern Valentine’s heart, leading many to speculate that the herb’s associations with love and sex may have been what first helped popularize the symbol. The ancient city of Cyrene, which grew rich from the silphium trade, even put the heart shape on its money.

Don’t Let a Loss Be Your Boss

Psalm 37: 23 – 24

“Into every life some rain must fall” is an ageless expression embodying a grievous truth. It means sooner or later every person will have difficulties, and/or defeats. Every person! Augustine reminded us: “God had one Son without sin, but not one without suffering.”

God in His creative wisdom gave all of us emotions. Emotional stability is a blessing. No emotion can be sustained indefinitely. We all have highs and lows. You can’t stay happy all the time. You can’t remain melancholy, sad, angry, elated, thrilled, or cheerful ALL the time.

Enjoy your emotional highs and work to create more. Inhale deeply the rarified air of every emotional high.

Likewise be prepared for your emotional lows. Sometimes there are experiences that hit us hard and virtually decimate us. Any traumatic loss has the potential of penning us to the mat in defeat. Bad things happen — even to good people.

A death, divorce, job loss, a dream that dies, a failed hope, a frustrated ambition, a defeat of major proportions all have a tendency to stun and shock us.

Researchers have done us a service in evaluating the stages through which we go when we suffer a major loss, failure, or defeat. In progression they are:


Most of us have not only seen persons work through these stages, we have had to do so ourselves. Note their progression.

SHOCK.  When a loss is experienced it often leaves a person in a state of shock.

DENIAL. Shock often turns to denial. For a period persons might seem to be unimaginably emotionally high. A sense of the unreal prevails. At this point the person is emotionally refusing to face reality.

ANGER.  Often anger emerges. In the case of the death of a loved one there might even be anger toward the deceased.

Often anger is felt toward God, though persons are most frequently unwilling to acknowledge this. Being inadequate to take out our anger on God, it is often expressed indirectly toward a minister or institution of God.

MOURNING. Deep sadness causes grief and mourning.

DEPRESSION. When there is a significant loss, depression is a step in the logical progression. It may last only a short time, but it happens. Often it becomes deep and prolonged. It even fades and reoccurs. What then? This, too, shall pass.

Take these steps. Pray, circulate with friends, enjoy the success of others, reach out to help someone, rededicate yourself to the Lord and His will. Do it!

One thing we need to do in advance of a major loss or failure is to learn to lose  and accept failure. That doesn’t imply in the least that we should ever strive for anything less than our best. We should have a driving ambition to always be and do our best. Self-motivation should drive us never to accept anything less than our best from our every effort. Even then we are going to fail and/or lose on occasion. People need to know it is OK to lose and/or fail. Who among us hasn’t? Learn from losses.

The Power of God 2/1/98

I Corinthians 1:17, 18
Page 1667 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth…”

The Greek word translated “power” is EXOUSIA, meaning ability, or strength, or authority. Here Jesus boast “all authority”, that is, power has been given unto Him.

This opens one of the major mysteries of life. If that is so, and it is, why doesn’t He make everything and everyone conform to His will? Good question worthy of our exploration. In exploring it you might well find why some things you don’t understand are happening in your personal world. A better, though never complete, understanding of this may revolutionize your life as you come to realize God is very much in love with you and more active in your life than you know.

Let me tell you a story and let me tell it from the end forward. Listen and draw your own conclusion of what is happening and why.

I met a couple who are both now deceased. He loved his wife very much. She “could not walk” and had not walked for some time. She stayed in bed most of the time. However, each afternoon when he came home he would go into the bedroom and pick her up in his strong loving arms and take her outside on the patio and place her in a comfortable chair. There they had refreshments and talked as he shared his day with her.

This was their regular delightful routine. To say the least she looked forward to the sound of the key turning in the door and his coming home. She watched the clock in expectation awaiting their time together.

One afternoon he came home but didn’t immediately come into the bedroom as usual. She called out to him and he responded casually. She urged him to come on in. After what seemed to be an undue delay he came in and stood some distance from the bed. She smiled warmly and appealed to him to pick her up so they could go outside and enjoy the beautiful day. He stood motionless. She appealed more earnestly and he remained unresponsive.

She struggled to sit up on the edge of the bed and begged him to pick her up. He refused. Her frustration gradually turned to anger. In her frustrated fury she stood and stumbled across the room throwing herself on him. He lovingly embraced her and wept. He then picked her up and carried her to the patio.

If you had seen that happen what would you have thought of him? Would you perhaps have thought he didn’t love her. Maybe, he didn’t care for her. Perhaps that he didn’t have the capacity to carry her. His conduct would have appeared to be foolish.

Now the first of the story. The loving husband had gone to see their doctor again that day. They had been to many doctors with no helpful response. This doctor told him they could find no physiological reason why his wife could not walk. Her inability to walk was psychosomatic. That is, she had a mental block. For some reason she thought she couldn’t walk and that disabled her. The doctor had told him he had to force her to walk and suggested the tactic he used. It worked. She walked that day and that set in motion a series of events resulting in her overcoming her mental block and eventually walking normally.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love her, didn’t care, or didn’t have the power to help her. He wasn’t being foolish at all. In reality he was exercising power.

Power is the ability to achieve purpose. Put that definition on the screen saver of your mind: POWER IS THE ABILITY TO ACHIEVE PURPOSE.

Candidly, as you look at certain things happening or some people and what they are experiencing you might tend to conclude God doesn’t love that person or God doesn’t have the power to help. Not so. He has all authority, all power. However, he wisely uses it to achieve His purpose.

As we look on the husband and wife scenario without the understanding given by the doctor, we might well be critical not knowing it was love that motivated the lack of action.

As we see events in life from our perspective without God’s view point we might well be critical of Him.

Look at Jesus on the cross crying, “My God, My God, why have you forsake Me?” From our vantage point it may appear God the Father no longer loved God the Son or that He didn’t have the power to intervene. He did, but remember, power is the ability to achieve purpose. His purpose is found in our text: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

On the cross God was achieving His purpose — our salvation.

God’s purpose is for His kingdom to come — what does it involve — for His will to be done.

The will of the husband was for his wife to walk. The will of our Heavenly Father is for us to walk in His loving will.

God has a purpose and to achieve that purpose it has to be done voluntarily by us. In all of life God wants to win but NOT BECAUSE OF HIS MIGHT BUT BECAUSE HE IS RIGHT.

God has lovingly imposed limitations on Himself. In His sovereign will He has chosen to give us human beings a free will. That is, the right to make choices. If we did not have a free will we would be nothing more than marionettes, puppets, dangling on His strings under His control.

God has imposed upon Himself limitations that His goodness demands. One limitation is to allow us to exercise our own free will.

He does not force or coerce. He guides and guards in order to enable us to come to understand His will and have the joy of doing it.

God wants people to love Him because they want to not because He has a big stick. Again I say: He wants to win because He is right not because of His might.

As with the husband and wife God’s power can’t be understood without comprehending His purpose.

God’s purpose is to change persons by the power of the cross. That is why God the Father didn’t intervene and bring the Son down from the cross. That is why we are to be constantly “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

He endured the cross and despised the shame in order to achieve His purpose — our salvation. That is the power of God unto salvation.

We are constantly in a state of becoming and what we become is determined by our choices. Our choice of the will of God or the will of Satan determines what we become.

This week on a flight I had two delightful seat mates. One was from England and one was from Scotland. Both had a PhD in chemistry and they were here in the states for only four days. I turned the conversation to these amiable delightful young men and we had a very warm free interchange. One of them said candidly, up front, clearly, “I am an avowed humanist.” The other said very little, but listened and watched intently.

The humanist said, “I cannot believe their is a God. For if there is a God why are things so messed up in this world?” I said simply, “because God imposed upon Himself a limitation allowing us to have a free will and in that free will human beings have created man’s inhumanity to man. God created a perfect environment and placed Adam and Eve therein, and they made a choice. And folks like them who are now us have made mistaken choices similar to theirs. That’s the reason things are so messed up.”

We continued to talk throughout the flight with him raising every old humanistic question there is, and there many, and every one has an answer. As we approached Atlanta I said to the other young man, “have you ever considered the matter of faith in Christ?” Here is a young man with a PhD in chemistry about 40 years of age and he said, “I had never even thought about God.”

As we continued to converse the one who had been so very articulate said, “I believe God is just a figment of the imagination.” I said, “do I understand you correctly? That you are saying, God did not make man, but rather man made God.” He said, “that’s right.” I said, “that would never have happened.” He said, “why?” I said, “because man would never have made a God like that.” He laughed and said, “you know, you’re right.”

I said, “part of the problem people had with Jesus when He was here was that He was a loving and a suffering servant who came to die for the sins of His people and every god on earth that man has ever created is exactly the opposite of that.” He said, “you’re right.”

When Leonardo Da Vinci was working on his famous painting of the Last Supper, he saw a young man in one of Rome’s fine church choirs who had admirable features. He asked him to model for Jesus. That young man’s name was Pietro Bandinelli. If you want to know what he looked like observe his face in the painting by Da Vinci of the Last Supper.

The complete painting took years. The hardest face to depict was that of Judas. Da Vinci searched back alleys looking for a hardened face impacted by sin. At last he found the perfect model. The man sat for him several times. He was a beggar, a thief, murderer, a person who had squandered his life. He was a product of his choices. His face was a masterpiece of evil.

Near the completion of his modeling time Da Vinci asked his name. He replied, “Master Da Vinci! I’m Pietro Bandinelli! I was your model for the Christ.”

You are changing and your choices are determining what you are becoming.

In our text the power of the cross is referred to as impacting two groups of people. Those who — “are perishing.” This refers to a process that is continual BUT which can be changed.

When W.C. Fields was on his death bed a friend visited him. The friend was surprised to find Fields reading the Bible. This was untypical of this man who regularly mocked Christianity. His visiting friend asked what he was doing. He replied, “I’m looking for loopholes!” There are none. Be certain you are not “perishing.” It is a state that can be changed.

“are saved” refers to a principle that is constant BUT which cannot be changed.

God has imposed upon Himself limitations that His goodness demands. Part of that self-imposed limitation is to allow us a free will. That free will sits between the will of God and the will of our adversary, Satan. God has a will for us and Satan has a will for us. We have a free will and can choose which of these we comply with.

Note, it is your free will. God will not impose on it. No human being can determine it for you. It is yours. We revel in that freedom. However, it shouts of individual accountability. That means we can neither blame God nor anyone for our conduct. We demand and delight in having a free will yet when we make a wrong choice we look for someone to blame.

While not imposing His will on us God does work in our lives to bring us to the point of accepting His will.

“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Some of what God is doing in your life may look as unexplainable as the behavior of the loving husband who refused to assist his pleading wife. The husband’s actions looked foolish. What was done on the cross looks foolish to some but to others it is “the power of God unto salvation.”

Mark Twain wryly said, “it is not the part of the Bible I don’t understand that bothers me, it’s the parts I do understand.” Twain understood much of the Bible but did not want to comply with it.

Be committed to doing the will of God before you ask Him to reveal it. Express your love and commitment to obedience. Imagine a child coming to its parents, throwing its arms around the neck, hugging, and saying, “I love you!” Could you conceive of the parent saying, “OH, I have been waiting to hear you say that so I can make your life miserable.” NO! The parent would respond in love. So our Heavenly Father responds when we tell Him of our love.

God is presently employing His power to help bring each of us into conformity to His will. Certain aspects of His known will are well defined in His Word. Such as:

SALVATION: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

SANCTIFICATION: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;” (I Thessalonians 4:3).

SPIRIT: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

SACRIFICE: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

SUBJECTION TO AUTHORITY: “and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you” (II Peter 2:13).

I minister to a number of persons on death row and have great sensitivity regarding their state.

I want to tell you of the most humane way of it being administered of which I know.

In another state the maximum security prison in which prisoners await execution has a compassionate warden. He is of the spiritual persuasion that anybody can be forgiven by God of anything. He believes those who have faith in Christ go to heaven when they die.

He operates his prison within the law and is discrete. He offers his personal assistance to those awaiting execution. Those who desire it are afforded it. He sees to it they have a clear understanding of what repentance and forgiveness is. Within the bounds allowing it chaplins are urged to disciple the prisoner. That is, teach Scriptural principles. Part of this teaching relates to believers death.

On the day of the execution the warden meets with the prisoner. By now the two have become friends. They share the prisoner’s last meal and pray together. Together they walk into the death chamber. The warden stands by the prisoner holding his hand as the lethal injection is begun. Compassionately he urges the condemned man to relax and anticipate the moment he will see the face of Jesus. He continues to talk to the prisoner until his hand goes limp.