Of Trial And Opportunity

God doesn't always answer the "why" questions of our lives, but He does show He is there. Don't ask Him why things are happening. Instead, ask Him to get you through and show you the opportunity and growth for your life in it. He always will.

Scripture: Mark 6


Alright thank you very much, and hello again dear radio friends.How in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that it is indeed your friend Dr. Cook, and that I’m glad to be back with you my beloved friends, for another few moments with the Word of God. I look forward to these times, like a person looks forward to vacation with pay. To me, it’s a delight and a relaxation and a refreshment to my own soul, to be able to share the Word of God with you. I hope everything is going all right at your house. If you’ve struck a rough day, as I so often have told you, if you struck a rough day look up and say, Lord Jesus, see me through this one, and He will. The keyword is through. He does bring you through.

Well, we’ve been talking about John the Baptist, this wonderful man, this strange and different kind of man, this holy man. He was called the forerunner of Christ and his characteristics of self-denial and courage, obedience, powerful preaching and humility and holiness and burning zeal. He was honored by Christ, he did no miracle, but everything he said of Christ was true. This is just a profile of John the Baptist. Now, you know what happened as our story has unfolded in our study of the gospel of Mark and we came then to this story of what happened when John said to King Herod, it’s not right for you to live with your brother’s wife, that’s wrong. Herod immediately clapped him in jail and Herodias, the lady, I use the term loosely, in question said, “I had a quarrel against him and wanted to kill him”, but she couldn’t, she didn’t find a way to do it. So finally there came this birthday party and the daughter of Herodias came in and danced before Herod, who evidently in his cups was highly pleased, and made this extravagant promise. He said, “Whatever you want, even to half of my kingdom, I’ll give it to you”. She said, “Mama what shall I ask?”, and her mother said, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist”, and so Herod rather than lose face before all of his Lords and captains and go back on his promise to the gal, he sent the executioner and cut off John’s head, brought it back to this little girl on a platter. Can you imagine the gory sight of the head of this magnificent creature, prophet, John the Baptist, now on a silver platter, with the blood still oozing from around the place where his head had been severed, his eyes now closed in death, and gave it to the girl. Well, it’s a brutal scene, isn’t it? And, thus ends the life of the one who the Lord Jesus said, “Of all that are born of women, no one is greater than John the Baptist”, then He added, “but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he”, so that God’s reckoning of greatness has to do with your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through salvation. Well anyhow, the question comes up, why did God allow John the Baptist to suffer such an ignominious fate and end to his brilliant career? The last time we got together we made some general comments, John was a human being so don’t blame him for getting discouraged, and the answer to doubt, you see John said, we’re we mistaken, I announced you was the Messiah, but You’re letting me rot in jail, was I mistaken? The way out of doubt is to see what God is doing in people’s lives. Jesus said to the delegation that came to see Him on behalf of John. He said, you go back and tell him what’s happening. The blind see, and the deaf can hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel preached to them. You tell him what’s happening, see what God is doing. If you got some doubts rising in your own heart today, look around you, ask God to open your eyes to see what He’s really doing and your doubts will flee as you see that God is really on the job.

The only way, if you’re determined to keep on sinning, is to get rid of the source of your conviction. There’s no compromise possible with determined sinning. This is what Herodias tells us it as an object lesson in her ugly, hateful actions. The only way if you’re determined to keep on sinning is to get rid of the source of conviction, and so she got rid of John the Baptist. Then there was one other the point, and I don’t know whether I brought about the last time or not but, that let’s speak of it now. You and I have no guarantee that because God has used us once that He is going to keep on. Many a committee has found that after they’ve had a tremendous evangelistic crusade, that reached a whole the city let us say, that they say, oh next year let’s do it again, and so they did the same thing the following year and the whole program fell on its face. You know, you have no guarantee that God is going automatically to repeat His blessings, nor indeed because God has greatly used to in one setting, can you assume preacher, that God is going to use you just the same in other relationships. You look back and see the history of revivals, read the life of Christmas Evans and some of the others, that were greatly used of God in revival movements through the past years or centuries, and find out that that God sovereignly used them and then seemed almost to set them aside. Why? We have to leave the answer to that with our Lord, but the fact is, you cannot presume upon the sovereign blessing of God to use you greatly. All you and I can do is to be ready when He is ready. We need to pray, “Not as I will but, as Thou wilt”. We need to be available to God when He wants us to be. You follow that reasoning? Don’t presume that because God blessed you once in a great way, He’s obligated to do it again. No He isn’t. Everything that you and I have is of His grace, “What hast thou that thou does not receive”, Paul says. By the grace of God I am what I am, and so we don’t want to presume on God’s mercy or grace, or his wonderful ability to use human nature when it’s yielded to Him through faith in Christ. Just be ready when God deigns to use you and don’t complain if He wants to you somebody else now and then.

I sat behind a preacher in Pittsburgh many years ago, at the beginning of the ministry of our beloved brother Billy Graham, and I was seated in the audience sitting right behind a local minister who said to his friend, in tones loud enough for them to reach me, “I don’t know what it is about this man Graham, I can preach much better sermons than he’s preaching”. That isn’t the point whether or not you can preach a good sermon. The point is let God use who He’ll use and let His anointing be upon those whom He deigns to give it to, and don’t you and I complain, let’s not complain if God doesn’t use us the way we think He should. Let’s be ready for Him to use us when He’s ready. Good idea? Give yourself to God every day in the expectation that in His sovereign will He has plans for you. He says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you a desired end”. God has plans for you, in all ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighted in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hands”. So steps and stops and stumbles even, are in the control of your blessed heavenly father loves you and who has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. He’s not going to drop you. He hasn’t brought you this far, I often tell you, and I’ll tell you once again, He hasn’t brought to this far to drop you now. He will be faithful to you, you just be ready. Good idea?

Well, John was holy and just, and sacrificial in a burning and shining light, he was a prophet. He was the forerunner of whom the Scriptures spoke in terms of Elias. All of these and yet Christ allowed him to stay in prison ultimately to be executed. Now what about it? Well, we can’t answer the why questions. I’ve had to learn through the years of my life that God very rarely answers my why question any more than He did for Job. Job when his troubles came, first there was the decimation of his family and the vanishing of his fortune as the bandits made off with all of his possessions, and then the collapse of his health, where he was in agony, covered with boils from head to toe, and sitting on the ash heap and scraping himself with a broken piece of a vessel. What a picture of human misery and woe, and then on top of that to have his critics come and carp at him, and as a final blow to have his wife say, why don’t you die and get out of here. Oh man, and in the midst of all of that he said, “Why was I born? Why didn’t God kill me before I was born so that my birth would have been aborted? Why didn’t I die after I was born? Why did God let me grow up to see this day? Why did God prosper me and then knock me down? Why, why, why?” Well, God never answered not one of those questions. Instead, God gave Job, after it was all over, God gave Job a new vision of Almighty God and Job begin to realize where he stood in relationship with his Creator. We find Job saying, “I’ve heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now I seeth Thee and I bore myself and repent in dust and ashes. I will lay my hand upon my mouth, I’ve said too much already”, and in that moment of repentance and worship, Job who had never left his allegiance to God found a new dedication to God and a new usefulness and a new blessing. God doesn’t answer the why questions of our lives, He does show Himself to us as being the God who is there and whom we worship, although we may not always understand what He’s doing. Jesus said, “What I do ye know not now, but ye shall know hereafter”. God’s hereafter is the precious revealing of His will when he sees it’s time for us to understand. You going through something beloved now, right now, where you say, why should this happen to me? What is God trying to do? Is He trying to kill me? Has he forgotten me? Is God punishing me for my old sins? Is God angry with me? All of these questions come up in your heart and they’re wrapped up in a great big WHY, why is it happening? Beloved, you may not get an answer to that question, but you can get an answer in terms of the person who will fill your life with Himself in the experience. I am convinced that the real reason for any of the experiences which test and try us or which break our hearts or which causes our tears to flow, the reason for any of the experiences the test and try us, is to give us opportunity to get to know our blessed Lord. “He led thee and He suffered thee to hunger and He fed thee with manna which thou knowest not, that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God doth man live”. God let people get hungry so He could feed them so they’d know He was God. God lets me cry sometimes so He can dry the tears when I pray. Want to remember that? Oh, may God teach us all that lesson, that we learned from John the Baptist.

Dear Father God today, save us from asking why, help us to say yes to Thy will, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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