Pray and Listen, Then Obey
Obey what is on your heart, on your mind, and in your most sincere and deep moments with God. The Holy Spirit will tell you what God wants.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? You doin’ alright today? I trust so. Bless your heart. I’ve just been praying that God would put His truth and His love and lots of blessing for you into the words I say and the very tone of my voice. My heart runs over, just spills over with love and concern for the many of you whom I know and the many more, thousands more whom I shall never meet until we get to the other side. I’m gonna have a big radio rally in heaven, I’m sure of that. We’ll meet on the corner of Glory Avenue and Hallelujah Street, and we’ll be singing the praises of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood.
This is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back with you once again to look at the Word of God and we’re meditating in these couple of days on the questions that the disciples asked, two of them in this passage and of course there are others in the other gospels. “Where shall we find bread to feed so great a multitude?” The question of how to cope with the impossible demands of life. “Carest thou not that we perish?” Does Jesus care when things are going wrong and when you’re in danger? What are the ultimate rewards of sacrifice? “Lord, we have left all and followed Thee, what shall we have therefore?” Questions such as that you find in the gospel records but the two questions here, the first one, we talked about the last time we got together in verse 5 of John 14, “How can we know the way?” And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the way, isn’t he? He’s the way to the Father, the way to greater works, the way to answered prayer, and the way to a love relationship with God.
When you commit yourself to the Lord Jesus, you walk by faith through that open door that makes God Almighty accessible to you. All of us, I suppose at some time or other, have had the experience of being kept out of someone’s office, or factory, or home. When I was calling on the various foundations and all of that in order to raise funds for the college, very frequently I would try to get an appointment with someone who was in the decision making capacity and if I just happened to drop in, the secretary would likely say, “Well, Mr. So and So can’t see you today, his program, his schedule is full.” You’re kept out. That didn’t feel very good but then you keep trying and sometimes the door opens and you get on in. The fact is, however, that when you commit yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, the door is wide open to the very presence of Almighty God. “Let us come boldly,” says the writer to the Hebrews. “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need right into the presence of the Almighty God.” Jesus is the way. He’s the door. He’s the door opener and He Himself is the door. And when you trust Him, that door opens and you go into the very presence of God.
Well, we wanna go on then to the second question that you find asked by the disciples in this connection, and that’s over in verse 22. I’ll go back and walk around in some of the other verses but I wanted to hit these two passages because they are relevant questions that people are still asking. Verse 22, “Judas saith unto Him,” not Iscariot. They always had to differentiate between the name Judas because one of them was Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who also betrayed him. That’s the title that the Holy Spirit of God has given in a number of places over in chapter 13, “Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.” This is not that Judas, this is another one. He said, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world?” Bring that up to date and the question simply is, what makes us different, us Christians? What makes us different? How is it that we have some special relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? What makes us different?
The answer is found in verse 23 through 27, and I wanna look at that with you as time serves us. And I think you’re gonna find it quite revealing. What makes us different? Start out by realizing that there are all sorts of ways to appear different. There are whole denominations, religious groups, that is, that are built upon the idea that you need to dress in a certain way. All over the world, you run into various religious groups who are characterized by the way they dress. The saffron-colored robes of the holy man so called in India and in other countries proclaimed that this person is quite sincerely following his form of belief. So there’s that attempt to create a religious difference based upon something that you wear, or something you do, or something you belong to.
Well, if you’ve been to Jesus, and you’ve knelt at the cross of calvary, and had your sins forgiven, been born again, you know that the difference has to start on the inside, doesn’t it? There’s nothing that you can do, nothing that you can wear, no group to which you can belong that will really make you distinctively a Christian. It may make you distinctively religious, but it won’t make you distinctively a Christian. What makes Christians different? Well, the Lord Jesus answers that question in something that may surprise you. He starts out talking about obedience. He says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” Obedience based on a love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Obedience. What does it mean? And where do you start? It’s a big subject, and it tends to scare us off when we think of how far short we may fall, short of God’s absolute holiness. But God’s merciful, and He’s gracious, and He knows your own heart. He said, “I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you a desired end.” Great is Thy faithfulness. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not,” said Jeremiah. So God knows. Where do you start this whole matter of obedience? Start with what you know about and what is on your mind.
Like as not, if you really want to obey God, you will find that when you pray sincerely, the Holy Spirit brings to your attention something or some things that you need to attend to. It’s that simple. Start obeying God then on the matters that come before you when you are most sincere and most open to Him. When you’re praying, when you’re reading your Bible and meditating upon it, and when you’re waiting on God in the quietness of that devotional moment, then when those things come to your mind that you realize you ought to do, or conversely you ought to stop doing, that is the area in which you need to start obeying God. Don’t look for some wild, hysterical revelation. Don’t look for the flashing of lightning, and the sounding of thunder, and the shaking of your whole life. Just start simply with what you really know. God will always make you very clearly aware of what it is He has in mind for you. And to do something other than that is disobedience.
I remember having stopped at a little restaurant on the north end of Manhattan, up there about where the elevated tracks stop and veer off, and I had made a call up in that part of town, and was on my way back up to the college, and I got what the Norwegians call “coffee thirsty.” You know what it is to be coffee thirsty? [chuckle] Anyhow, I thought, “Oh, I’m gonna have a cup of coffee.” And I stopped at this little place to have a cup of coffee, and after I was served, I observed the gentleman behind the counter who seemed to be very busy polishing this, and rubbing that, and so on. Suddenly, the boss came in and began to scold this employee. And I was surprised at that, and so indeed was the employee. He said, “But sir, can’t you see that I’m busy doing all this?” He said, “Yes, I know you’re busy, but you didn’t do what I told you to do.” Ah. [chuckle] He was busy about something that interested him, and he had left undone something that the boss wanted done.
Well, that kind of situation happens again and again in life. The pity of it is that we apply the same kind of misdirected effort in dealing with God’s will. We say, “Oh, God, this looks interesting. I’ll do that.” And the faithful Spirit of God says, “I want you to do this.” And we say, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’ll take care of that.” And the Spirit of God keeps on saying, “Yes, but I want you to do this.” See? Obedience. Obey what is on your heart, and on your mind, in your most sincere and deep moments with God. The Holy Spirit will tell you what God wants. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought,” says Paul, “but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Where does the Holy Spirit dwell? In you, if you’re a believer. What does He then do? He prompts you in the line of the will of God. In that same passage in Romans 8 from which I quoted, if you go on reading you’ll find these words, “He that searcheth the hearts,” that’s God the Father, “knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because He, the Spirit, maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Then you go over to 1 John and find John saying, “If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us and if we know that he hear us, we know that we have the petition we desired of him.” Answered prayer comes from praying and acting in the will of God.
Do you wanna think about obeying God on some things? Now, I’m not asking you to do something foolish or outlandish, something embarrassing, something chauvinistic that will show you off or show you up as the case may be. Not that. God doesn’t work that way. I’m just asking you to think with God about the things you need to do, or to stop doing in order to obey him. Listen to the blessed Spirit of God as you read God’s word and pray. He’ll tell you what he wants and then you just obey him. And that, my friend, is the beginning of what makes Christians different.
Dear Father, today, may we obey Thee and thus show our love for Thee. In Jesus’ name I pray this, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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