It didn't stop Morton from holding church services, though. We're pretty tough here in Morton. We had a few overflows from Washington, Peoria, and Gridley attending, and a lovely Christmas program this afternoon.
Anyway, I was thinking it has been awhile since I have written a church notes post. So here it is...
Not My Will
We received a handout with this service that included an outline that was adapted from a devotional written by Andrew Murray in the 1800s... just to give credit were credit is due. This was a very extensive outline, so instead of rehashing the entire thing, I will pick out a few points and keep it at that. :)
Doing God's Will-The Way to Heaven
"Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." -Matt. 7:21
First and foremost, doing God's will is of utmost importance. We might ask-- what is God's will? That's our very problem. God would will that we repent, give our lives to Him, and then follow Him all of our days. This may not always entail knowing how God wants every situation to work out, but that is where trust comes in. Clay cannot ask the potter to be something different or request to see the end product. Clay must simply be molded, and clay has enough softness and give to allow shaping and refining to occur. We must be clay in God's hands.
Some may know who God is, may recognize Him, may have heard about Him all their life, and may even say they believe in Him. But if we haven't recognized our sinful nature, repented for our sins, and committed our life to Christ, we aren't getting a spot in Heaven. I have a feeling that there are a lot of deceived, misinformed, so-called "Christians" who will one day be very disappointed that they refused to fully understand Christ's cross and His gift of salvation.
Praying-- According to God's Will
"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us." -1 John 5:14
Sometimes, we ask for things we don't need, or for situations that are not good for us. Often, we have no way of knowing this-- and at times, we do, but we want what we want. The key to this verse is that we "ask anything according to His will." How do we do that?
There is no better way to fall into alignment with God's will than by studying His word, deepening your knowledge of God and depth of insight. If you are tuned into God, you will ask for things that are godly, things that please God. If you are tuned into the world, yourself, and others, you will ask for things that are self-focused.
What is more important-- my desire, or God's will? Learn to accept His will as your supreme joy. If any man shall do His will, He shall know His doctrine. He also must believe. Faith and knowledge are both needful.
Suffering-- According to the Will of God
"For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing." -1 Peter 3:17
Even when we do what is right, we may still suffer for it.
That's the kicker. When we do what is right and are punished for it, it is human to want justice. It may be easy to throw up our hands and say, "Fine! I tried to be nice but it doesn't make a difference... I may as well be angry or retaliate." Is that what Jesus did? When he walked by with His cross and people spat on Him, did He spit back? When He was beat from head to toe, did He beat them back? When He hung up on the cross, did He say, "I can't believe I am going through this for a bunch of people who hate me?" No. He said, "Forgive them-- they don't know what they're doing."
Before it all happened, Jesus asked for the cup to be removed-- but for it to proceed if it was the Father's will. And it was. We need to have that same attitude and realization. We may be able to look ahead in our lives and see suffering on the way-- big suffering, suffering that may look like too much to bear. But if it's God's will, and for His glory... which often, it is... we must be willing to accept.
I have been learning lately that just because I act Christ-like or respond in a Christ-like manner to adversity or anger, it does not mean that the other side of that will suddenly fully accept me with open arms. In fact, it may be the cause for further rejection, persecution, or struggle. Being a Christian, when it comes down to it, is not always the most popular label, and Christ himself said we would suffer for His sake.
Remember this during suffering...
I am here by God's will- exactly as He planned.
God will give me grace to conduct myself right.
God will teach me why He brought me here (to refine).
God is also capable of bringing me out of this.
Another point that was brought out during this sermon were the following thoughts:
So often, when we see others, we see them through our own eyes: who he is, what he does, and what he deserves. We need to see all people through God's love.
What if we turn those judgments/thoughts back on ourself? Who am I, what do I do, and what do I deserve? In the end, I deserve Hell... as does everyone else. No job, no personality, no beauty, no social status, no popularity will ever save a person or make him more likely to enter Heaven over another. We are all offered the same gift of Love-- and why would we not want every soul to accept? As Christians, we must see others through Christ's love and not through human eyes. A human sizes up a person and puts him into a box. God sees a soul worth saving, worth sending His only son to die for.
Love you all!