If you didn’t make it to the James River Church Men’s Bible Study – at 6am – don’t worry. We will post the videos that are watched and discussed here. This is a fantastic set of videos from the book of Daniel. Enjoy!
From: Meyer, F. B. The Secret of Guidance (Moody Classics). New ed. publication place: Moody Publishers, 2010.
“We have no need or right to run hither and thither to ask our friends what we ought to
do; but there is no harm in our taking pains to gather all reliable information, on which
the flame of holy thought and consecrated purpose may feed and grow strong. It is for
us ultimately to decide as God shall teach us, but His voice may come to us through the
voice of sanctified common sense, acting on the materials we have collected. Of course
at times God may bid us act against our reason, but these times are very exceptional;
and then our duty will be so clear that there can be no mistake. But for the most part
God will speak in the results of deliberate consideration, weighing and balancing the
pros and cons.
When Peter was shut up in prison and could not possibly extricate himself, an angel
was sent to do for him what he could not do for himself; but when they had passed
through a street or two of the city, the angel left him to consider the matter for himself.
Thus God treats us still. He will dictate a miraculous course by miraculous methods. But
when the ordinary light of reason is adequate to the task, He will leave us to act as
occasion may serve.”
Crash the Chatterbox (Part 1) – Steven Furtick – Sermon Notes
Premise: The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.
Isaiah 55:1-3 – “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. (Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)
- Most Christians never stop to think about what they are thinking about.
- How to overpower the lies of the enemy with the promises of God.
- Part 1 is an introductory survey to the “Chatterbox Series.”
- Everything you see (in creation) started with something God said.
- We all hear thoughts that run through our head.
- Gen 1:1-3 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3 ESV)
- The cadence of creation is marked by the rhythm of call & response.
- When God speaks he is looking for a response.
- God has given us the ability to choose the thoughts we respond to.
- Learning how the thinks the thoughts of God is a most important skill to develop, and one the most important battles that we wage internally.
- The thoughts we struggle with don’t go away when we bcome Christians.
by Kevin Cassil
February 28, 2014
I recently wrote an article entitled “Live Above the World,” about the wonderful things that God wants to do in the lives of those who love Him. I believe it really is true that we can’t even imagine the things that God wants to do for us – things we’ve never seen or heard of or even dreamed – God really does want to do those things in your life! So where are they?
God is absolutely able to do far more than we can ask or imagine. So why do so many who call ourselves followers of God; who say we love Him; not see on a regular basis what we’ve never seen or hear about what we’ve never heard or witness what we never imagined? What is it that keeps us from truly and consistently living above this world?
Let me pause right here to clarify something. Living above the world does not mean you live an idyllic life devoid of problems or trials or difficulties. It doesn’t mean you never make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you never wrestle with emotions – that you never face doubt or fear or discouragement. It doesn’t mean you avoid temptation. It doesn’t even mean you will never sin. Living above the world means that by placing your trust in the God who made you and made this world, you walk through all these things with Him and allow Him to lift you up and do in you and through you far more than you could ever do on your own. You place your trust in Him and watch Him give you courage and watch Him give you faith and watch Him give you joy and watch Him provide for you and deliver you and bless you in ways you never expected.
With that said, I think there are several ways to answer the question of why do we not consistently live above the world and see God do those awesome things. However, as I look honestly at my own life and as I’ve talked with others, one explanation that seems to rear its ugly head over and over again is we give up! I am convinced that one of the most prevalent reasons that we don’t rise above the world – why we don’t see God’s power displayed more in our lives, is that we quit – we stop before God’s done!
Let’s look at an example from the Bible. For me, one of the most tragic accounts in the Bible is that of King Saul, when he was waiting for Samuel, the prophet. Saul had taken his army to fight the Philistines. The Philistines had assembled a huge army for this battle; so big that it terrified the men of Saul’s army. Samuel had told Saul to wait for him at Gilgal for seven days and he would seek God’s favor before Saul went to battle. So Saul waited for seven days, but Samuel didn’t show up. So Saul took matters into his own hands and offered the sacrifice to God himself. After he finished, Samuel showed up and told Saul, “You made a foolish choice! If you had waited on God, He would have allowed you and your family to be king over Israel forever. But since you quit, God will give the throne to someone else!”
If Saul had waited for Samuel, what God had in store for him was far more than he imagined. It would have been his kingdom that ruled over Israel forever. It would have been his kingdom that ushered in the Messiah. It would have been his throne that Jesus sits on in glory. Instead, all of that was lost; given to another – because he gave up. Saul, like so many of us, was focused on the enemy arrayed against him rather than the victory that awaited him. He, like many of us, focused on the clock, not on the promise. Saul was waiting for seven days, when he was supposed to wait for Samuel. He failed to recognize that waiting on God is not about time, it’s about a person – it’s not about circumstances, it’s about a relationship.
Aren’t we so much like Saul far too often? We give up before God gets here. You may have once felt like God had promised you something, but after so much time has passed by, you begin to question if continuing to wait is your best option.
You may be tempted to give up. It can happen in so many different ways. And typically, like Saul, we can quickly justify our actions. “Saul replied, ‘I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, “The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!” So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.’”
Saul’s rationale was chock full of facts and defensible arguments. His men were indeed scared out of their gourds. Samuel hadn’t arrived when Saul expected him. And then the kicker: Saul didn’t want to go into battle without God’s favor. Now surely that would justify his actions! After all, in response to all this evidence, Saul took it upon himself to do something very spiritual – he offered a sacrifice to God. Surely doing something so righteous would make up for him not doing what he had been instructed to do! Surely God will recognize that you have waited longer than is reasonable. If you wait any longer, people are going to think you are weird. People may think you are foolish. People will say you are not using common sense. Well that’s good! Because what God has for you is way beyond common. He wants you to hold out for the extraordinary.
Notice that Samuel was unsympathetic to all of Saul’s high-sounding excuses. He looked Saul squarely in the face and reminded him that what God asked him to do was to obey; to wait; to not give up. He reminded Saul that it was more important that he waited for Samuel, not that he waited seven days. It was more important for him to wait for Samuel to bless him, rather than to try to conjure the blessing on his own.
Like Saul, sometimes we quit out of fear or insecurity. You wait and wait. And the longer you wait, the louder that voice inside your head gets that questions whether what you are waiting for is really from God. Maybe, after waiting all this time, you begin to think that you must have heard wrong. After all, who are you to think that you’ve heard something special from God – or even heard anything from God? Maybe you just made it up out of your own desires.
Here is something very important I have learned. I want you to pause that recording that’s playing louder and louder in your head and recall when it was that God put that desire in your heart. I want you to remember the circumstance and the conviction you knew at that moment. Remember how you searched for God and listened for Him and He placed that assurance in your heart. Now ask yourself if you’ve ever felt God tell you to stop with that same conviction and assurance. My guess is, the answer is “no.” You see, I cannot find one single place in the Bible where God works in His children through doubt. He is not a God of doubt. He is a God of hope. If God has not told you to stop, why would you ever consider giving up on what He’s told you? That voice you hear that is causing you to doubt is not the voice of the God who loves you. It is the voice of your enemy who wants to derail you. Do not give in to fear and doubt. Hold on to the God of Hope.
There are times when we quit by simply doing something else that seems “just as good” and is far more “accessible,” especially under the circumstances. Saul looked at his circumstances and decided he would do something “holy” on his own, rather than keep waiting for Samuel. After all, he had prophesied. He’d seen Samuel offer sacrifices and call to God before. He knew the procedure. He could do it and get going before all his soldiers slinked away.
How often do we look at our circumstances and see an opening for something that looks good, that we can do on our own? It is, after all, a good thing. It’s a step up from where you are. And you can make it happen right away. To those watching, who don’t know what God set before you; it will look like you are doing a good thing. But what they don’t realize – what you know, deep in your heart – is that seemingly good thing is not the best thing. It is not the thing that God wants you to hold out for. Don’t grab the convenient. Wait for the omnipotent.
When I was a senior in high school I qualified for the district track meet in the 400. Because that event was late in the day and the meet was behind schedule, the organizers decided that rather than have the qualifiers from heats compete in a final race, they would simply take the best times from among the heats to determine who moved on to the state championship meet. I ran in my heat, which I won handily. I was well ahead of the guy behind me. When I plopped down next to my coach, after what I thought was a good race, he said, “You let up in the final stretch.” He was right. I didn’t do it consciously, but I had run hard enough to beat the guy behind me, but not as hard as I was capable of running. When they tallied up the times from all the heats, I missed going to the state championship meet by less than 1/10th of a second.
Sometimes we may still be “in the race,” but we have let up. Perhaps it is because it looks like you are ahead. Perhaps it is because you are just tired and running out of steam. Or maybe you have quit trying because you don’t believe you can win. But the fact remains: you are no longer running the race to win; you are running to get by – to just get it over with.
Throughout history, God has asked His followers to do some pretty daunting things. Sometimes what He’s asked has required a lot of faith and faith over a long period of time. It was over 25 years after He promised Abram that he and Sarai would have a child before Isaac was born. David was anointed by Samuel, but it was many years of living in the wilderness, death threats, and struggling before he finally sat on the throne over all Israel. They could have given up. They could have coasted or even quit. If they had, they would have missed out on what God had prepared for them. They didn’t quit because they recognized that God has never asked anyone to do anything that He wasn’t sure that they could do – and that includes you.
God has saved you to do good things that He has prepared for you to do. What He has prepared for you is more than you’ve ever seen or heard or imagined possible in your life. What God has for you is far more wonderful than you can fathom. But if you stop; if you give up; if you give in, you will miss out on the best things He has prepared for you. Don’t listen to the voices of doubt or fear. Walk by faith and not by sight. Don’t compromise or settle for what is merely good or convenient, but is not God’s best. And don’t stop running! God has equipped you and prepared you to finish this race in His power.
Some of my favorite accounts from scripture are examples where God rescued His people when they least expected it, in ways they never anticipated, without them even lifting a finger. Take for example when He broke Peter out of prision or did the same for Paul and Silas. But one of my favorites is when King Hezekiah was locked up in Jerusalem, surrounded by the mighty king of Assyria. It appeared that Hezekiah was whipped and hopeless. The Assyrians pointed out, quite convincingly, that it was foolish for the people of Jerusalem to not just surrender. But Hezekiah believed it would have been foolish to give up on the very God who created the universe. He trusted God and prayed and refused to give up. That night, the angel of God went through the camp of the Assyrians and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died! The next morning the king of Assyria just packed up and went home.
When Hezekiah prayed, he had no inkling what God had in store. While he prayed, he had no idea what God was doing. But because he prayed, he walked out the gates of Jerusalem to see the deliverance God had provided for him in response to his prayer. Pray and trust in God. You may just wake up one morning to discover the victory God has been preparing all along.
Hold tightly to what God has placed in your heart. Don’t let doubt or fear or compromise or fatigue or anything else keep you from the best God has for you. Stare that impossible situation in the face and trust in God. Keep praying and trusting in Him. He has not called you to something you cannot do. He has called you to more than you imagine. Your victory is closer than you know.
God doesn’t want you to just survive this world. He wants you to overcome this world! He wants you to live above this world! He wants you to change this world by His power at work in you! Do not stop trying. Do not stop praying. Do not stop believing and hoping and trusting in the marvelous name of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the awesome power of your Holy Spirit, and the incredible, matchless love of your Heavenly Father! Your God wants you to have victory. He has designed you for victory. He has prepared you for victory. And He has prepared the victory for you! So, don’t you dare quit before you have that victory!
Copyright February 28, 2014, J. Kevin Cassil – all rights reserved
 1 Samuel 13:11b-12NLT
by Kevin Cassil
As I am sitting down to write this article, I am not feeling very victorious. Perhaps that is all the more reason why I need to get this written – to remind myself and you that our God loves us very much and wants wonderful things for us.
I may be familiar with Jeremiah 29:11 – “‘For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.’” It seems though that sometimes I have a hard time believing that. I mean really believing it.
I find there is one enemy in particular that I face in this battle to believe. It’s the bad things I have faced or seen others face or that I conjure up in my highly creative, worrisome mind. I have gone through some really tough times in my life. My mind is keenly aware of the death of family members, wounded relationships, financial upheavals, and on and on. My “natural” mind has these right at hand when contemplating what the future might hold. Where is the prosperity? It’s far too easy to imagine the harm.
Jesus even warned us that, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” The world we live in is full of trials and sorrows. So, if even Jesus is telling me that I’m going to have many trials and sorrows, how can I have hope? If Jesus gives me such a gloomy forecast, what is our adversary, the devil going to do? Where is the hope in that?
The hope is in the reminder of the rest of that verse: “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” The hope is that the story doesn’t end with the trial and the sorrow. The reminder is that, yeah, we live in a messed up world. There is sickness; there is death; there is trouble of all kinds. But there is far more to it than all this messed up world has to offer.
When Jesus was praying on the night before He gave His life for us, He prayed to His Father, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” It is true that Jesus said in this world we will have trials and sorrows. We are in this world. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice – His overcoming the world – we are in this world, but we are no longer of this world. Because we are no longer of this world, our experience no longer stops with what the world has to offer. We have the hope of what our Heavenly Father has to offer!
The apostle Paul encourages us to “not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He encourages us to change the way we think – don’t think as if what the world has to offer is the only option. Don’t think that the trials and sorrows of the world are the only possible outcomes. Don’t think that what the world has to offer – the ways the things of this world work are the best that you can hope for. Our Heavenly Father has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” He has “plans to give you a future filled with hope.” The God that we serve is not bound by the limits of this world. He is not constrained by the everyday stuff of this world. Yeah, we may have trials and sufferings because we are in this world. But it doesn’t end there, because our God gives us hope beyond the trials and beyond the sufferings that is not of this world!
In fact, Peter wrote that if we will recognize that we belong to God and that we need him – that is humble ourselves – He, Himself, will take care of us. Not only will He take care of us, He will exalt us! Peter said that because of the evil of this world, we will know difficulties, but because we belong to the great Heavenly Father, “after [we] have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
So, what does that mean? What can we expect from God?
You can’t even begin to imagine it! “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” In fact, our Heavenly Father “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” David sang, “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”
When we hold on to God in our trials and struggles and suffering – when we look at Him with the awe and honor that He deserves – when we look to Him as our hope, rather than to this world, at the right time, our loving Heavenly Father will lavish on us the great goodness He has stored up for us. He will bless us while the rest of the world watches. He will bless us far more abundantly that we can imagine – right here and now!
You want a taste of how extensive the lavish love of your Father is for you? Go out on a dark, clear night and see if you can count all the stars. With all of our technology, we continue to discover more and more. Your Father created all those stars. His love for you is greater than the expanse of the stars. His love and His power go far beyond the limits of our universe. And consider this: your Father can go well beyond the farthest-most star, and at the same time, is right there with you at this very moment. He is more awesome; more powerful; more loving than anything – any trouble; any pain; any trial – the world can conjure.
No wonder the Psalmist sang that those who trust in the Lord “do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.” So you may be going through a very difficult time right now. Your mind may be rehearsing all the trials and suffering you’ve seen and can imagine. You may not see how in the world you can make it through this. Take those thoughts captive, change the way you’re thinking, and remember that you may be in the world, but you are not of the world and your Heavenly Father has hope for you that far exceeds what you can ask or imagine. Hold on, because at just the right time, He, Himself, will bring to you the absolutely wonderful things He has already prepared for you.
copyright January 25, 2014, J. Kevin Cassil – all rights reserved
 John 16:33cNLT
Act Like Men: Defining and Discussing God’s Calling for Men
Sermon Notes – Watermark Community Church – Pastor Todd Wagner
What It Means To Be God’s Man (Notes courtesy of http://www.watermark.org)
- Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 ESV)
- Lead. Initiate. Be a man of action.
- Assume it your job and your moment.
- Hate apathy.
- Reject passivity.
- Ezk 22:30 – And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30 ESV)
- 2 Sam 10:7,12 – And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men. Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 10:7, 12 ESV)
- Prov 20:6 – Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? (Proverbs 20:6 ESV)
- Psalm 101 – I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. (Psalm 101:2, 5, 7 ESV)
- James 1:23-25 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:23-25 ESV)
- John 10:11-13 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:11-13 ESV)
- Prov 14:23 – In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)
- Silence in the midst of sin is a sin.
- Be Courageous.
- Fear God not man.
- Speak the truth in love.
- Proverbs 31:8-9 – Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8, 9 ESV)
- Proverbs 27:5-6 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5, 6 ESV)
- 1 Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)
- Proverbs 15:1-2 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (Proverbs 15:1, 2 ESV)
- Proverbs 24:11-12 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11, 12 ESV)
- Jeremiah 1:17 – But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. (Jeremiah 1:17 ESV)
- Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 ESV)
- Proverbs 14:25 – A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful. (Proverbs 14:25 ESV)
- Don’t give in when you are challenged, attacked or criticized.
- Jeremiah 1:18-19 – And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:18, 19 ESV)
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)
- 1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8, 9 ESV)
- Proverbs 24:10 – If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10 ESV)
- Philippians 1:27-28 – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27, 28 ESV)
- Galatians 1:10 – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)
- Jeremiah 12:5 – “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5 ESV)
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)
- Be Vigilant against pride.
- Get the log out of your eye.
- Don’ think less of yourself, think of yourself less.
- 1 Peter 5:5-7 – Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7 ESV)
- Psalm 141:5 – Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. (Psalm 141:5 ESV)
- Proverbs 12:1 – Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1 ESV)
- Philippians 2:3-5 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5 ESV)
- John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)
- Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)
- Isaiah 66:2 – All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2 ESV)
- Seek first His Kingdom,
- His glory,
- His righteousness.
- Hope in the eternal.
- Live for a greater reward.
- Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
- Matthew 6:33 – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Matthew 6:3 ESV)
- Joshua 24:14-15 – “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14, 15 ESV)
- 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)
- 1 Peter 2:21-23 – For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)
- Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10 ESV)
- Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 ESV)
- Psalm 84:10-12 – For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Psalm 84:10-12 ESV)
by Kevin Cassil
I had planned to write on a wholly different subject today. But ever since Wednesday night, I’ve been grappling with this. Then a reference in the group of guys I met with this morning just seemed to clinch it. So here goes…
I’ve thought about Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane many times, but something occurred to me this morning that had not sunk in before. We often talk around Christmas time about the evidence of Jesus’ humanity displayed by His being born in humble circumstances – born in a stable and laid in a manger. Our Heavenly Father did indeed demonstrate to us that His Son was sent to earth as a fully human sacrifice, born like all the rest of us, even born into this broken world in far less than ideal circumstances. But perhaps nothing else speaks to me about Jesus’ humanity – His understanding and identification with us, as His grieving and agony in the Garden.
It was in that moment that Jesus, who had spent His entire life pursuing the very purpose for His life on Earth, wrestled with the reality of what it was going to mean to take the next step. He agonized over the “cup of suffering” He had to drink. He wondered if there might be some other way after all.
There’s a far more powerful dynamic at work here though than just Jesus’ desire to avoid suffering. On that same night Jesus prayed that the Father would complete the work He sent Jesus to do and restore Him to the Father’s side in glory. That’s what hit me this morning: in the midst of His agony, Jesus knew how the story would end.
Jesus knew the plan. He knew that by His sacrifice His purpose would be fulfilled. He knew that by drinking the cup, those He loved; those He had prayed for; His bride would be saved. He knew that the plan was for him to conquer death and to reign as King of Kings in eternal glory in Heaven. He knew the “why” and was fully behind it. He knew the “what” and was all-in. It was the “how” that suddenly came face-to-face with His human-ness.
It is the “how” that we often run into as well. We may pray for something fervently, yet we question the way God asks us to go about it. That’s what I’ve been wrestling with and perhaps you’ve found yourself wrestling with that at times too. We can be fully behind the why and the what, but the how can make us everything from uncomfortable to downright terrified!
Sometimes we worry that if we do it God’s way, what we’ve been seeking might somehow elude us. We fear that we can’t do it or that it won’t turn out the way we’ve hoped and prayed. We look at the price we’re being asked to pay and wonder if it will be worth it. Will it pay off? How can this possibly be a good way to go? There’s gotta be another way!
That’s where the rest of Jesus’ prayer in Luke 22:42 comes in. Through all His agony and His grief, Jesus looked at His Father and said, “not my will, but yours.” Jesus looked past the suffering and said, “I believe that what you’re asking me to do will be worth it.”
Nothing that the Father had in mind was lost in the agony. Jesus recognized that the way the Father chose to fulfill His plan was the right way – the most excellent way. He understood that if He went through with what the Father was asking Him to do, the salvation and victory and glory would all be waiting on the other side. They would not be lost. They would not elude Him. They would not be dimmed, tarnished, or diminished in the slightest by what He had to endure. In fact, it had to happen that way.
There is nothing that we face that can in any way compare to what our Lord endured for our salvation. Yet in His human-ness that night, Jesus gave to us a powerful example. There will be times when we struggle with what God has asked us to do. In those times we must remember that our God loves us. Our God wants us to succeed. He wants us to taste and see the good things He has planned and prepared for us. Nothing of all that goodness is lost in the challenge of how He’s asked us to proceed. In fact, the “how” is an integral part of the very joy and victory we will ultimately see when we do it God’s way.
So, when we are faced with those challenges, we might at first know fear. We might even agonize over what we are asked to do. That’s human. The bottom line is will we look past the fear and the worry and the doubt and even the pain and see that the beautiful things our Heavenly Father has prepared for us – in this life and the next – will be waiting for us on the other side? It will be worth it.
Copyright January 18, 2014, J. Kevin Cassil – all rights reserved