When Doing God’s Will Is Hard

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How can we come to delight to do God’s will when it’s contrary to our desires?

When we don’t feel like reading the Bible or praying or going to Care Group or asking forgiveness.  How do we rejoice when we feel like cursing or crying?  5 suggestions:

Confess. Tell Jesus you don’t feel like doing this.  Ask him to forgive you for your coldness heart and lack of desire to obey him. Confess your inability to do anything apart from him.

Pray. Ask Jesus to help you delight to do his will and to give you joy in obeying him.

Remind yourself of the truth of God’s word. His commands are not burdensome.  None of our work in the Lord is in vain.  His yoke is easy.  This is the reality of the situation.  The good fight of faith is to battle to believe God’s word and not our feelings.

Look ahead. Look to Christ’s reward.  For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross.  He looked past the cross to the joy he would experience later.  Look past the immediate hardness of your situation to the joy afterward.

Obey until it becomes delightful. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words BECAME to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (JE 15.16).

“Not only did Jesus do the will of the Father, not only was that His whole goal in life, but Psalm 40:8 tells us that He delighted to do the will of the Father. To become like Jesus, then, is to come to the place where we delight to do the will of God, however sacrificial or unpleasant that will may seem to us at the time, simply because it is His will.” — Jerry Bridges

What would you add to these suggestions?

photo by ground.zero

If the Church Was Like the World Cup

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I walked into church this past Sunday.

That’s strange, I thought. The place is packed. There must be thousands of new people here. I walked up to one guy who was wearing a gold cross, a “Got Jesus?” t-shirt, a WWJD bracelet, and a hat with a fish on it. I asked him if this was his first time attending a church.

“Yeah it is, but dude, I’ve always loved church. I mean, it’s totally awesome.”  I then asked him what he loved about church. “Well you know. It’s just amazing. You know, there’s stuff about God and prayer. And, what’s that book called?”

I just looked at him and kept going.

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As I walked toward the main sanctuary I heard a strange noise. It sounded like…

“Hey man here’s your trumpet,” someone shouted in my ear. A young couple was standing at the entrance to the sanctuary, handing trumpets to everyone who came in. I looked around and saw that everyone in the auditorium was wildly blowing on their trumpet.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I shouted.

“You just blow on it the whole service. Especially when you get excited, like when the worship band starts playing something by Chris Tomlin or the pastor gives an awesome illustration from the show Lost.” The noise in the auditorium was deafening, but nobody seemed to care.

Another greeter came over and asked the young couple if they could help him clean up a mess in the bathroom. The couple instantly flopped forward, landing dramatically on the ground. They both grabbed their ankles and began rolling around on the ground. Apparently they couldn’t help with the bathroom.

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The worship band got started, and everything was going well until the worship leader tried an unexpected key change. Suddenly the band was thrown into chaos. Instantly the congregation began booing and throwing bulletins, Bible covers, and anything else they could get there hands on. Finally the band got back on track and everything resumed as normal.

After worship, the offering basket was passed around. Every time someone put a significant donation in they yelled, “TTTTTTIIIIITTTTTHHHHHEEEEE!” and the crowd broke into applause.

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Then the pastor came up on stage and began his sermon. Things were progressing normally (other than the continuous trumpeting) for 15 minutes when the pastor suddenly stopped. He pointed at a man who was walking toward the restroom.

“No using the restroom until minute 17 of the service!” The pastor then pointed to a woman who was fanning herself with a bulletin.

“No right handed fanning,” he shouted. He then proceeded to mysteriously disallow several other things, such as chewing spearmint gum and taking notes with a BIC ballpoint pen.

After forty minutes of preaching I thought things were coming to an end, but the pastor spontaneously decided to add two extra points to his sermon. At minute sixty seven, he concluded with, “Let’s pray.”

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The moment the pastor said, “Amen,” he ripped off his shirt, threw it into the congregation, and sprinted around the auditorium. He concluded his sprint by sliding on his knees across the stage and pumping his fists. The worship team dog piled on top of him.

That signaled the end of church, and I quickly made my out of the auditorium and into the parking lot.

I didn’t want to be there when the congregation started setting chairs on fire.

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Why Must We Keep Asking?

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Why does God make us persevere in prayer?

Why does he tell us to keep “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance?” (EPH 6.18)

If he intends to answer our prayers, why doesn’t he answer the moment we ask?  If he’s going to save a rebellious child, for example, why doesn’t he save him sooner rather than later?  Why must we ask again and again?  A few thoughts:

Higher priorities

God has higher priorities than quickly answering our prayers, like his own glory.  Sometimes by delaying he displays his glory more brilliantly.  Authors often put a character in a life-threatening situation, then makes it more and more desperate, till all hope is gone.  Then at the last second, the hero rides in and against unbelievable odds, overcomes every obstacle and rescues the character.  The hero gets much more glory this way.  The more desperate our situation, the more God’s power, mercy and wisdom shine when he comes through.

Unfinished business

Sometimes he delays because he has work to do in us.  Forming Christ in us is more important than immediately meeting our needs.  By delaying God raises our faith to new heights, fortifies our patience, and cultivates our dependence on him.

Perseverance in prayer also deepens our relationship with our Father. If he always responded the second we asked we’d only come to him when we wanted something, like a big quick stop convenience store in the sky.

God is after our joy

Don’t we appreciate the answer more when we have to wait?  Our joy is greater, our thankfulness more heartfelt, our relief sweeter.  God is after our highest joy and knows how and when to give it to us.

photo (and isn’t this a cool photo?) by toolmantim