My Will or Thy Will?

In the complexities of life, have you ever felt like you needed help, and there was no one available to help or to care?  The truth is that there has always been help for us if we would ask.  I wonder why we often don’t recall that or don’t feel like our problem is worthy of asking.  After all, why would someone as important as the Creator of this world want to deal with the trivialities of my insignificant life?  Have we forgotten when things weren’t going quite right that He sent His Son to show us how to live and the work we had to do before we return to His and our Home?

If you look wisely at the world in which we live you will find several different groups of people – those who know Him and strive to do His work, those who have heard of Him but have too many things of their own to do and those who have never heard of Him.  Our Father knew this would be the case and so as He created us. He also gave us the talents and time to fill in the blanks for those less fortunate.  The problem seems to be that we have given ourselves too much credit and believe that we have more important things to do and will do it later when we have more time.  Shame on us!  If we are fortunate as we age, we will come to terms with the responsibilities that we were originally given and strive to change our priorities.  Yes, I know time seems to have grown shorter, but there is still a portion of time left.  Is there anything we can do to make up for our failures?

It seems to me that there was one thing we should have noted and that should have been placed on a board where we would look each and every day for the notations of what needs to be done that day - Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  How often do we forgive those who have wronged us?  How often do we strive to accomplish what the Lord has placed us here to do?  How often do we thank Him for simply loving us enough to give His very life for us?  

I can’t speak for you, but I have to admit that it has caused me many tears to acknowledge the things that I have not done.  The big question is: Will I continue to live the way I have become accustomed to or will I seriously attempt to be the person He created me to be? Am I more concerned about my will being done or “THY will” being accomplished? We have become so accustomed to our lists and what we must accomplish tomorrow that we very rarely accept the fact that our Lord also has a list that He made when He created us.  Just maybe it is time for us to slow down and reconsider the purpose for which we were created.

You may be saying to yourself at this point that you don’t believe you have the talents, the courage or even the knowledge to accomplish your task, but have you forgotten that your Father has already given you just exactly what is needed to do what He created you for?  All we really need to do is to tell Him that we are sorry we have been dragging our feet and ask Him to show us where and how to fulfill the purpose of life that He gave us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.

The Value of One’s Path

In today’s world we find value placed differently by individual thinking.  Does it matter that we all think differently?  Our languages and life styles are different and we accept that without a problem.  Is there any area in life where we need or even should all place value in the same place?  That’s not a trick question, but one we all should answer.  I imagine that all of you who are bothering to read this will know where I am headed and yet we continue to define that value in so many different ways.  How is that possible?  I know there are many different languages and many different understandings of single words.  While that is true for many different reasons there is only one acceptable ending for each and every life that passes through this world in which we live.  This is not a trick question.  Although we speak different languages, wear different clothes, and enjoy different delicacies with many different life habits, the absolute truth is that there is only one absolute that will govern the future of each life ever created – that is ONE GOD.

You would think that would mean that we would all get along.  While it is true that life might be a good deal more boring, I wonder just why our Creator chose this way of doing things.  Is it possible that if we all thought the same way it might limit our acceptance and knowledge of the simple fact that HE is over and above the possibility of our understanding?  If we were all the same, it would surely limit our desire for growth and take away any effort we might make to become the blessing that God intended.  To be a hair ridiculous can you imagine how disappointing it would be if all the ice cream in the world were simply vanilla?

Same language, same look, same purpose = boring!

 Okay, so how do we handle the privilege that He gave us, the ability to manage our own lives and make our own decisions?  It is true that if we were all the same, we would be complaining because there would be nothing new under the sun; nothing new to see, to eat, to do – boring!  Surely there is more to life.  I wonder what the Lord is thinking as we all go our own way – there are many things to do and see and many to help and to influence into a better path and/or a way of thinking.  We all will find our final road that leads us back to our Creator, but it will be our way through all the trials and tribulations of life.  Each of us will travel a different road, but if we are fortunate it will be the one the Lord planned for us to take.  Life demands many different solutions, not just one.  Of course, there is a major decision which we all must make and hopefully many of us will take the right road, the one our God planned for us to take and to do what He planned for us to do.

We hope to be smart enough and big enough to accept the fact that life would be dull if we were all the same.  Therefore – I wonder why it is that we cannot see this truth and relish in it.  We may wish to make our own decision as to our future, but when all is said and done, we will probably recognize and understand that God made the smarter decision with a smarter reason.  We are told in the book of Matthew – Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26).

I pray your immediate answer will naturally be -

Take my will and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Sufficient For

We live today in a world of hurry, hurry, hurry.  There is so much to do and so little time.  Is there any balm for our souls as we face each day?  Jesus has told us in the book of Matthew – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (6:34).  Do you think our days could be less stressful if we could remember these words?  I don’t need to tell you that we live in a day when life seems to be rushing past us with great speed.  I catch myself wondering at times if the Lord is trying to tell us something.  Maybe our priorities are all screwed up.  There has to be a way to live the fruitful lives that God created us for.    It’s just that our days are so busy we often forget.  Maybe it would help if at the very beginning of each day we simply asked our Lord to be with us and help us to get our priorities in line with His.

Obviously, there is still much left to do or He would have already called us home.  Is the problem that we have not really been listening?  Our days are already so busy we don’t know how to squeeze in any more or do we?  Maybe there are some unimportant things we could leave for another day.  In case you haven’t realized it, we were created with a specific purpose, a special job that only we can accomplish in the place the Lord placed us.  Those words might make you feel special, but we are only special as we accomplish what the Lord has put on our list. 

You’re right – we probably don’t ever think about our Lord having a list of His own and yet He has an awful lot of marbles He needs to manipulate each and every day in order to please His Father and accomplish His task.  Guess what, He manages and we were created by the Father to manage also.  Don’t you think it is about time that we place our effort where it belongs?  If you are not sure of what your particular job is all you have to do is ask the Lord to remind you and then try to to do what you were placed here for. 

Most of you are already aware of the fact that our Lord created us for a particular purpose.  Your job is to discern that purpose and complete it.  Most of you realize that God has also given you the strength and wisdom to complete it.  So there is really no reason to postpone that purpose or rely on the lack of knowledge.  Also it most likely will not just go away.  If all of us were obedient children can you imagine what our world would be like.  Just thinking about it makes me want to experience it and please our Creator.

If we are realistic we will realize that our world is racing fast toward extinction and yet we put placing that thought at the bottom of every list we make.  I wonder why.  Is it because there are simply some things we don’t really want to do?  And yet they are on our list.  Were they put there by us or by our Creator?  Maybe it would be best not to shrug that thought off.  It is quite possible that we, because of our increasing knowledge, could be close to blowing ourselves to smithereens. If you are thinking that God will not allow that to happen you might want to think again.  God desires to one day enjoy His children as we live together in His world, but He will give the decision to us.  We should not put off that decision because we don’t know when the door will be closed. We also should not plan on tomorrow being soon enough to make that decision.  We really shouldn’t be so casual with things that are actually important. 

Oh Jesus Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee,
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be;
And, Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

He Lives -

Here we are today, hopefully in church, to join in song with those who love the One we love. Many years have passed since God created mankind and gave him the right to make his own decisions. You might be led to think that was a big mistake and yet the value comes from making each and every one of us his own decisions. How have we chosen?

Our world today is obviously in the worst shape it has ever been. Is it too late to fix it? Have we changed so much that we no longer can see the truth? Obviously, God is still in control but is He sorry that He gave mankind the freedom to make his own decisions. And how is it that our opinions have become so distorted when we obviously can consult history to see our mistakes? The decisions have been made by each and every one of us as He allowed, but you can see for yourself the sad results for our united efforts. Is it too late to change the future for our children and their children?

I wonder if today it were possible to give our Lord back the power He has given us if we would be a happier people? But then maybe we had to learn that lesson for ourselves in order to understand the value and need for a leader to follow. So, do you think we can give Him back the reins knowing He could straighten out our future and make us a happier people? But you know as well as I that we would never be happy without testing our own choices and decisions. So what is the answer, what do we do at this time in history? Do we even have the choice?

You have to admit it would require a complete turn around; we would have to give up the defense of our own choice to a wiser one. I believe in my heart that most of us would not mind at all doing just that. However, that is part of an irrevocable decision so where do we go from here? Can we ask for forgiveness and reelect our Heavenly Father to the position of control? What satisfaction would that give Him? You are right – absolutely none! Do we have a second choice? I think we do and I believe He would be willing to give us another chance, but only if we were serious about doing a much better job.

I know our Heavenly Father would be happy to know that we truly care and would be willing to give us another chance, but it would have to be a united effort and a united promise. I can see you shaking your head because you know as do I that our human nature would never be able to keep that promise. That is why our Father sent His Son to do what we obviously cannot. So on this one time, a year acknowledgment of His sovereignty let us bow our heads in repentance and plead with Him to take back the reigns He has so graciously given us or at least to give us one more chance to be the people He created in love and wished to receive love from.

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer, and just the time I need Him He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

North or South?

Left or right, right or wrong, North or South?  Do you ever have a problem deciding which direction to go or do you just go somewhere that feels right?  Does it make a difference in the long run or is it simply a moment’s preference?  I seriously wonder if many of us spend much time weighing our decisions.  However, I’m certain you have noted that there are those times when, after the fact, you wish you had chosen differently.  Can, or should, we be more serious before making decisions?  You may be like many when making decisions – do what simply feels right at the moment, but you also have probably had times when you wish you had chosen differently.  Is there a simple way to make the right choice?

I believe you already know the answer to that question; there is a best way and a Father who loves to help you make the right decision.  The problem comes when we simply fail to ask His advice which He is always pleased to give.  Sometimes it will work out alright, but then there are those times when we manage to fall on our face wondering why and what did we do wrong.  The thing which we often forget is that our Father sincerely wants to be a part of our lives and our decisions.  Why shouldn’t we allow Him that pleasure?  Paul tells us plainly in the book of Second Thessalonians 3:5 – Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.  Vernon McGee acknowledges that it’s difficult to love every person, and he believes that Paul meant for love to be in judgment, which implies we should be careful about loving those around us while we wait patiently for the coming of Christ.

It would seem that every decision is essential, but we must learn the basic why before we can allow it to become a part of our thinking.  The Father, like all fathers, didn’t merely cause our creation as something to do on a rainy day.  He chose us, planted us, watered us and constantly oversees our growth while hoping one day to actually be a part of our busy lives.  He didn’t do this because He needs to, but because He sincerely wants to be an ever-present participant in our lives that He can rejoice when appropriate and help when needed.  Those of you who have children can probably relate to those feelings, but whatever position you are in you should remember that one of our Father’s specific instructions was “to love one another.”

You can analyze that instruction up one side and down another, but it will always come out the same.  Love cannot distance itself from life and its occupants and still be love.  We are all God’s children designed to love and honor Him and each other.  While true that we each are designed with certain expectations, we are not designed to accomplish them without specific input from others of God’s many children - one very large, complete and adequate unit functioning in love and with love so that God’s world can accomplish its purpose as designed.

You’re right – we still have a long way to go, but should we give up because it will happen in God’s timing and hopefully as God designed? Certainly not! God’s desire has always been to have one big, loving and grateful body, willing to accomplish together what none could do alone.  Have you done your part?  If not, are you willing to put your hand to the plow before it is too late?  God knew the final result would be as He desired it to be, but He also expected those who loved Him to join Him in the effort. 

Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way
Thou art the potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after thy will
While I am waiting, wounded and still.

Shall We Gather

At the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.  Wait just a moment – I don’t think that’s part of my list for today.

Like me I am sure you have many things to do, plus I still have to get my ducks in a row. Hmm! I want to join my Savior one day in a place where there are no lists and everyone loves one another – just not today. However, spending a day at the river could provide a new look at an old problem. 

It seems in this busy world that every day has a list even if we don’t seem to deliberately plan it that way.  There are the things we need to do and things we want to do.  The problem has always been what is the most important.  If you are like most of us you will pick from the what I want to do list first.  Have you ever stopped to think that neither may satisfy the purpose God put us here for?  Gee, that makes us sound terrible, doesn’t it?  We do owe Him so very much.  Is there any way we can reorganize our schedule to put God’s desire for our lives at the top of the list?

If we read our Bibles, we can see for ourselves the blessings the disciples received from following the Lord they loved, but then neither can we deny that the cost was more than we desire to pay.  Does that mean that we shouldn’t consider the truth that our world while still evil doesn’t normally nail people to crosses?  We should remind ourselves that anything of worth has a cost.

You might be saying that there is a big difference.  The disciples knew their Lord better than we can comprehend today.  Is that because we haven’t met Him in the flesh or that we haven’t studied His Word enough to say we know and understand His position?  That is probably more than we want to admit as our world is so busy today and takes so much of our time.  But then again we have had to study many things just to live today.  What is the difference?

Children have hardly ever lived up to the expectation of their parents, but this is a little different – God is not only our Father, but our Creator; the only one who will determine what will happen to us after our time on earth is over.  If there is any doubt in your mind, which there shouldn’t be, maybe it is time that you begin to protect your eternal future.

God so loved the world – how much or how many do you love?  Is it, or can it ever be enough to save anyone, even yourself?  It has been a long time since Jesus walked this earth and we have not had the opportunity to experience for ourselves His personality or expectations, but knowing that He did arrange for us to know Him through His Word.  Yes, I know, it is awfully easy to put that back on the shelf before we learn anything and in the busy world we live in it is also easy to put what we do know or remember on hold until it is more convenient.  We do have a way of planning for many things we want, but have we forgotten that there is a life beyond the grave? 

We all like to think that we are simply loved for ourselves and our God does love us, but He understands that His creation needs to experience a purpose if life is to make him truly happy.  Can you truthfully say you are happy when you know you have done nothing to earn the reward you desire to have?

God has chosen the weak things of the world
to shame the things which are strong…the things that are not, that He
might nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.
(1st Corinthians 1:27-29).

Cleft For Me

Let me hide myself in Thee.  You’re right, that’s part of an old song, possibly one you are too young to be familiar with, but one very much needed in the day in which we live.  A cleft is a narrow  division, or crevice, which could possibly make a great hiding place if one is in danger.  I know that you will agree with me that this world is such a mess we might very well come across a need for a great hiding place and what could be any better than one our Creator could provide. 

We have made great progress over the years, but many things have remained the same and Satan has continued to agitate God’s people and we continue to need protection from evil.  If you have half a brain you will have to agree that we have not done a very good job.  I think we have followed that old adage “I can do it myself” for so long that it has become automatic.  Maybe it is time to try another route.  Centuries ago John, the writer of the gospel bearing his name, told us that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God (1:1-2).  Maybe we should try going back to the beginning.  I know that we cannot recreate time, but I also know that we can retrain our minds and hearts with the Word that He so graciously left to help us in times like this.

Friends, our God loves us in a way I know we cannot fully understand, but we can agree that as His children we owe Him something.  His road was more expensive than we can truly comprehend; His love greater than anything we can imagine.  In today’s world we hear so much the words “I can do it myself” and yet anyone with any sense knows better.  Why are we so stubborn?  I doubt you could find anyone who wouldn’t admit to the fact that no matter who we or our parents are there will always be a stop sign in front of us, one in which there will be a password to cross.  Do you know the password?

Maybe you are thinking that there will be time enough for that later when you have finished enjoying all the earthly things you have on your list.  I hate to burst your bubble but the end will be no different than the beginning which you did not determine.  Surprise, neither did you determine the purpose for your life nor what will happen while that purpose is being fulfilled.  Have no doubt though, there was and is a specific purpose for which you were created.  Truly – I can testify to that even though I still don’t understand it

So, where do we go from here and is there still time to get there?  You know I am sure that we are not given all the answers when we were created, but we trust that God not only knows His purpose for out lives but also the timing for their occurrence.  In the meantime we simply rest in His will and enjoy His presence for today.  You have to know that in this crazy world it is nice to have a day to rest, to put on hold tomorrow’s events.  Even so, there is one thing we cannot put off and that is being sure that our minds are open to hear and that our bodies are in good enough shape to handle whatever job our Lord chooses to give us. 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed.
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

In The Beginning

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God (John 1:1).  And that is where we first get off track even though most of us have heard those words early in life.  The Word is not off track, it is us and our understanding.  Many things will develop from our growth as time passes, but it is undeniable where the growth is coming from - our acceptance of its origin and our willingness to comply with its truth.  How about those apples, friend?  You can study and practice over and over again, but to no avail.  Surrender is the source of advancement, believe it or not.

You might be wondering at this point why He didn’t just create us that way, but I am sure you already know that would provide no satisfaction.  Willingness is the frosting needed for this particular cake and what a cake it can be.  You might be wondering why we make it so hard and yet you already know what a flop it would be without the ingredient of effort.  Even with all this knowledge you know we will still fight to get our own way.  What a stubborn bunch we are!

Many of you already have experienced what “giving up” can finally bring about and wondered why it took you so long.  I remember hearing something about a road well traveled and this is definitely not an easy road.  However, those who have traveled it will tell you there is nothing more glorious and nothing more worthwhile.  It’s not very smart to waste the life God gave us learning only at the end what we could have had and could have done for the One who created us.  I do realize however that if He had given us the smarts we needed it would not have given Him the satisfaction over His creation.  I have to believe that most of us desire to give our Creator joy by living the life He created us for.  Our biggest problem is the ditch we have managed to dig along the way.  I don’t believe it was our deliberate intention, but the surprise that came with our assumption that it would  be a simple solution.   Accepting the value and recognizing the cost before choosing the solution is by far the best approach and then having the assurance that we are not alone if we choose to ask for help. 

All things were made through Him…In Him was life, and the life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (3-5).  As often as we hear it and as often as we try to comprehend it we will never truly understand it.  We are not puppets pulled by a string; we are pieces of God’s heart, dearer than we will ever be able to comprehend.  Our choices are held in His heart and yet He gave us our freedom.  You have to be terribly mixed up to not comprehend that our joys and our sorrows are also His.  Do you stop to think about that as you put your hand to any plow?

It is very nice to know that we have a God who not only created us, but also loves us.   It seems awfully foolish to worry about anything, but at the same time it is hard to give it all up and never worry about the things we do not know or can’t control.  The bills still have to be paid and we still need to make the money to pay them, don’t we?  And yet what is it that really brings us joy at the end of each day?  If you are honest with yourself most of us will admit that it is not what makes us happy, but when we know that our Lord and Savior is happy with what we have accomplished in the day just finished.  Then we can enjoy a peaceful rest and begin the next day with joy.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.