Pray. Plan.

When you pray about a decision you get "in business" with God.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:21-23, Acts 13:2-3


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, it’s your friend, Dr Cook, and I’m so glad to be back with you. I’m feeling great today and right on top, happy in the Lord, Hallelujah. I hope everything’s going well with you, and if you’ve struck a rough day, look up, and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one,” and He will. The keyword, as I tell you so often, the keyword is ‘through,’ not just ‘into.’ “When thou passest through the waters, they shall not overflow thee.” God brings you through things. Trust Him to do that, today. He will.

You and I are in the midst of a list of principles that Paul the Apostle gave to Timothy. He said, “Observe these things. Charge thee, that thou observe these things.” He said, “First of all, be fair, don’t be partial; nothing by partiality, be fair.” And the correlate to that, is before you try to be fair, you make sure that you yourself are right and without offense. You may need to eat a little humble pie, now and again, to straighten things out, and that’s a lot better than being rigid, and inflexible, and insisting on it going your way. So the correlate truth to ‘be fair,’ is be humble, and make sure you’re right with God, and with people, giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.

Now, the second thing is, “Be proper.” He said, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Now, that ‘lay hands on’ is a spiritual procedure, that means ‘setting people apart for a special work in the Lord’s service.’ ‘Suddenly’ means ‘without proper preparation.’ Now, the two kinds of preparation, you’ll want to think of, when you’re choosing leaders in God’s work, one is, preparation in the Christian life. All of us have seen the wreckage that comes from putting folk into responsibility too suddenly, or the damage that can be done by thrusting a brand new convert out into the limelight of public awareness. Always, always is a questionable practice, to take a brand new convert, and try to capitalize on his or her testimony. “This man was a dope addict, and now, look at him.” Oh, well, let the Holy Spirit of God lead the person, instead of trying to capitalize on him or her. Good idea? So all of us are aware of that.

And when it comes to choosing leaders in God’s work, one of the things that you have to think about is, “Is this person really mature enough to carry the load?” For, let’s face it, in dealing with the matter of Christian work, you’re up against the human race. And while all of us are aware of the fact that people have faults, it comes as a shock, oftentimes, to deal with Christians who maintain their faults, oftentimes, as part of their standard operating procedure, and you’re shocked. And the danger is that, the immature believer is going to become disillusioned, and embittered by that fact. Has this individual learned how to pray his or her way through problems? Is their spiritual maturity enough to stand the pressure of other people’s disagreement, without being disagreeable? [chuckle]

That’s a big one, isn’t it? And is there evidence that this person has learned the taste of sacrifice for God? Is he or she willing to give up time, and effort, and money to serve the Lord? Does he or she know how to pray effectively? Is the individual growing in knowledge of the Word of God? These are questions that you have to ask and answer without being an inquisitor. Don’t make a federal case of it, but you better find out about that. You better give God time to grow the person up a little, before you thrust him or her into the pressures of leadership. That’s what this is talking about, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” You better make sure that the individual is prepared.

The second thought, is that you better make sure that you’re prepared. Had you thought of it that way? I’ll refer you again to that verse, to which I referred briefly before, Acts 13:3, “When they had prayed and fasted, then they laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas, and sent them away. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Cyprus.” Okay. When they had prayed and fasted, then they did the laying on of hands. You better make sure that you’re prepared spiritually, before you choose leaders. First of all, you prepare in listening to God. “At Antioch, there were prophets, and teachers, as Barnabas, and Simeon, and Lucius, and Manaen, and Saul. And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted… ” Here they’re in a prayer meeting and they’re fasting. Fasting means going without food, or without sleep, or without other activities of life, or all of the above… “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, ‘Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.’ ” You have to be sure that you’re right, so you can listen to God.

First pray, then decide has always been the rule, hasn’t it? First pray, then act. First pray, then plan. So it’s plan, and decide, and act, only after you’ve been praying. “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost told them what to do.” Oh, all of my mistakes, I have told you different times, all of my mistakes have been made in a hurry. I never have had cause to regret anything about which I had thoroughly prayed and sought God, do you know that? Anything about which I had thoroughly prayed, and sought God, and gotten His guidance, I’ve never had cause to regret any action of that sort. I have to tell you, I have had cause to wish I had done differently on other matters, where I made a hurry up decision.

Small thought here: Anytime somebody tells you that something has to be decided right this minute, hang on. Anytime anybody says, “You gotta decide right now, because this opportunity’ll never come again,” you’re either gonna become the victim of a con game, or else you’re gonna make a mistake, or both. Anything that has to be decided in a hurry, without praying, and without thinking, you better back off from it. It’s a good idea.

Well, anyhow, he says, “When they had fasted and prayed.” Interestingly enough, in verse 2 of Acts 13, they were “praying and fasting,” in verse 3, it said that they had “fasted and prayed.” They said, “We think this is so important, that we are going to set aside the whole matter of having food and we are going, then, to wait on God.” “When they had fasted and prayed, then they laid their hands on them, and then they sent them away. So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost… ” See, when you pray about a decision, you get in business with God. They fasted, they prayed, they laid their hands on them, they sent them away, but it says, “The Holy Ghost sent them.” Jesus said, “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.”

Paul said, “The secret of the Christian life, is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He said to the people at Corinth, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which you have of God in here, not your own? You’re bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body.” The fact is that, when I seek God, I become part of what God is doing. Isn’t that a blessed truth? They fasted, they prayed, they laid their hands on these two, they sent them away, and the net result of all of that, God, the Holy Ghost was sending them away. It was God working, while these people were doing the praying. [chuckle] Isn’t that great?

What is proper procedure? First pray, then plan. First pray, then decide. First pray, then act. And the net result will be, God’s doing it. This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. Isn’t that good? Then he said… Alright, the first is, “Be fair,” second, “Be proper.” First pray, then what? “Be separate.” “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins… Neither be partaker of other men’s sins, separation unto God.” Now, what does that mean, really?

Well, I think it means whatever it says to you on the surface. We know that other people are doing things, that may compromise a Christian testimony. You stay away from it. There used to be a little Gospel tract printed some years ago, I haven’t seen it recently, entitled “Others May, You Cannot.” Let God lead you, according to His Word, and by His indwelling Holy Spirit, and don’t you compromise, because somebody else is doing it.

That’s the great excuse that’s used everywhere, “Everybody’s doing it.” Parents, you’ve heard your teenagers say, concerning some outrageous thing that is being suggested, “Well, everybody’s doing it, Momma.” Well, when everybody is boiled down, it turns out to be Susie down the block. We use the conduct of other people to justify our own, don’t we? But God says, in His Word, that, “That’s foolish.” “Comparing yourself with other people,” He said, “Isn’t wise.” “You have one standard, and that’s the Word of God, to the law, and to the testimony, for if they walk not according, speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no truth in them,” said Isaiah. “You have one standard, and that’s the Word of God, and you have one motivator, and that’s the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, who motivates you to do God’s will.” So first of all, you don’t cave in, because somebody else is doing it, instead you take your stand.

A friend of mine was out hunting, and after the group got together at the close of the hunt, it was their custom in this group, that whoever bagged a trophy( they were hunting bear at this point) whoever bagged a trophy was responsible to buy drinks for all of them. Well, there were the three of them that shot a bear that day, and so three of them were supposed to buy drinks for the whole group. Well, my friend’s a Christian, and he went to the man who organized all this, he said, “Say, I don’t wanna seem like a wet, brown blanket or back out of this.” But he says, “I’m a Christian. I don’t drink and I don’t wanna buy drinks for others.” He said, “What would you think, if I make a donation to your charity, whatever charity you want, instead of buying drinks?” Well, the man thought that was wonderful and he shouted to the other fellows, he said, “Hey, look here, look what… ” I almost said his name, “Is gonna do.” [chuckle] And he told ’em about it, and they were all thrilled with it. My friend sent a hefty check to a local charity, instead of buying drinks. You don’t be partaker of other men’s… You don’t have to be a ‘Holy Joe,’ you don’t have to be a holier-than-thou… You can take your stand for the Lord Jesus and He will honor you in it. I’ll just finish that up the next time we get together.

Father God, today, oh, may our lives be pure, may our testimony be clear, and make us a blessing to other folk. I pray 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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