Praying The Way
Is it worthwhile to obey God, no matter what the cost may be?
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart.
Now, beloved, we’ve been looking at the gospel of Mark and we’re in to the third chapter. Out Lord Jesus was a churchgoing person — remember that when you’re tempted to say, “Oh well, I have a Sunday headache. I’ll stay home today”. The Lord Jesus went to the synagogue. This is mentioned in chapter 1, and chapter 2, and chapter 3, “Entered again into the synagogue”. Now, He finds a man with a withered hand and this is the Sabbath day now, and so they’re looking not for something good to happen to the poor man, but they’re looking for a chance to criticize the Lord Jesus.
Small thought here. Everything depends on your attitude when you go to church. You can go to church looking for things to criticize — and believe me, you’ll find plenty of them. All of us have enough faults to provide grist for anybody’s criticism mill. So, if you go to church looking for things to criticize, you’ll find that the service didn’t start on time, or started too early, whatever it may be. The ventilation wasn’t just right. The seats weren’t comfortable. The hymn books were worn out. Or maybe somebody didn’t give you one. Nobody smiled at you as you came in. Of course, you didn’t smile at anybody either, did you? And the minister’s sermon lacked coherence or it lacked proper illustration or it was too short or too long. The choir sang sharp or sang flat or didn’t sing together. Or you did like the number anyway — and so on, down the list. You can always find something to criticize my dear friend, if you go with that in mind. These people were in the church looking for something to criticize. “They watched Him, that they might accuse Him”. Oh, take that to heart will you, my dear friend. Before you go into God’s house, bow momentarily and say, “Lord bless me and make me a blessing. Speak to my heart today may my life shine for Thee”, and then go in prepared to overlook the faults and foibles and shortcomings of other human beings around you, knowing that you yourself have a goodly share of the same, and just listening for the voice of the Lord instead and looking for blessing to come your way, and then also looking for people whom you may help and encourage.
I used to tell the young people at the college, everybody you ever meet will be hurting somewhere. Find out where he or she is hurting and help to apply the healing balm of Gilead to that hurting place and you’ll be a blessing. Be an encourager not a discourager. My good friend Roy McCandless used to say of someone whom we both knew, “She has the gift of discouragement”. Well, some of us are like that I guess, aren’t we? Be in encourager, won’t you? And find people that you can express friendship in Christian love to them. The world is so full of folk who are preoccupied with their own doings that they haven’t time for others. Let’s you and I, be the kind of people who notice other people and who encourage them and help them. And let this be an evidence when you’re going to God’s house, the next time.
“They watched Him, that they might accuse Him”. Well, He said to this man with a withered hand, “Stand forth”. Now He asked the people, “Is it right, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath day, or to do evil to save life or to kill?”, But they didn’t answer because you see, had they answer. They would have been hung on the horns of their own dilemma — and so they kept still.
“Well He looked round about them with anger”. We talked about that the last time we got together — how to handle anger. Remember that so I won’t go over it again today, except just to take off what we said. Identify the cause of your anger. Let the Lord Jesus handle it and do something constructive about it. Those three things will help you weather a good many storms of anger.
Well, “He looked round about them with anger”, it says, “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts”. Hardened hearts, this is part of the human heritage of sin. The ability to harden your heart against God and to operate in unbelief is part of the heritage of sin. “Our Lord Jesus after His resurrection, appeared to the 11 as they were eating a meal and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart because they believed not them who had seen Him after He was risen”.
Hardness of heart — what is all that? What is it about? Well, the fact that the passage I just read you from the end of Mark, where it says, “Unbelief and hardness of heart”, those two go together. Refusal to commit the situation and yourself with it, to God is unbelief. Hardness of heart is the byproduct of unbelief — that is to say, when you say, “I will not commit this moment to God”, that’s unbelief. But you go on from that to say, “It cannot possibly happen that God would do anything about this moment”, that’s hardness of heart.
I think many of us have gotten into the habit of saying, “it can’t be done”. I think just this moment of a missionary. He had a compound name — what was his name — it was Gordon-Smith. Gordon-Smith, that was his last name. He worked with the Christian and missionary alliance, many years ago. And out in Vietnam as a matter fact. And he said that he built a house trailer — he and another national. A carpenter of sorts, built a whole house trailer. And all he knew — well all that the carpenter knew in English was to say — “Can’t be done, can’t be done”. And all that the missionary knew at the time in the language of the dear national, was to say, “Do it this way”. So, he said he built a whole house trailer with the national brother saying, “Can’t be done”, and the missionary saying, “Do it this way”, and they got along alright. “It can’t be done” — how often we say that.
Some wag has said that there are two reasons for doing nothing in a church. One is to say, “we never tried it before”. The other reason for doing nothing is to say, “we tried it before”. If you use both those reasons all the time, you’ll end up doing nothing, won’t you? Hardness of heart — hardness of heart comes from unbelief. Unbelief says, I will not commit the situation to God just now. Hardness of heart says, I cannot nor will I commit anything to God because it doesn’t work. You get a couple of illustrations of this. For example, Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt was confronted by Moses and Aaron in that early day there, when God was preparing to deliver His people, and Moses said, “God says, ‘Let my people go’”. Pharaoh says, “Who is this God?”. Moses says in effect, I’ll show you, and then comes the 10 plagues that God sent upon the Egyptians. Interestingly enough, when the plague was on, whether it was the mice or the lice or the boils or the rain or whatever was, Pharaoh would say, “Oh, you pray for me and ask God to lift the plague off me”. Then it says, “He hardened his heart and he hardened his heart yet more”. Find that in the eighth chapter, in other chapters there of Exodus. Pharaoh turned and went into his house and neither did he set his heart to this, also. What was the source of that hardness of heart? The source of it was that Pharaoh knew that if he did comply with the command of God, it would cost them always free labor. The hardening of one’s heart very frequently is related to the cost or the supposed cost as the case may be — of obeying God. God says, “Give me your life”, and you say, “Oh no, I can’t do that because it would change my career plans. I plan to be a medical doctor and God might send me as a missionary or something”. The cost.
I was with a young man in Japan, many years ago, speaking with him and saying, “Do you understand the gospel? Do you know that you need a Savior”? “Oh yes”. “Do you believe that Jesus died and rose again for you and that you could become a Christian simply by confessing Him as Lord and Savior”? “Oh yes I understand all that”. “Well are you ready now to confess Him as Lord and Savior”? “Oh no”. “Well, why not why”? “Because if I become a Christian, my father will disown me and he will stop supporting me at the University. I’m a student at the major university and I would forfeit my entire university education if I became a Christian. Oh no, I can’t become a Christian”. And he walks away.
I was praying, many years ago now, with some folk after a meeting in the Miami, Florida. Among them was a very well-to-do lady (evidently by the way she was dressed) and she had come, and it was in the inquiry room and some of the sisters were kneeling around her. It was not really seeming to get anywhere. And so I went over and stood beside them and they began understand something of what was going on. And as I spoke with this dear lady, I said, “Why don’t you simply to risk everything on the matter of receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior”? “Oh no”, she said, “I just can’t do it. My husband is of another faith and he has told me, if I ever become a Christian he would divorce me, and I can’t stand to think about that”. And with those words, she got up off her knees, reached over for her mink stole, put it around her shoulders, went out, got in her new Cadillac and drove off unsaved.
Hardened hearts, what is it come from? Often times beloved, it comes from the unwillingness to pay the price. Paul the apostle said, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, ye, doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I’ve suffered the loss of all things and do count them, but refuse that I may win Christ and be found in Him. Not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness which is by faith”. Well beloved, I think you and I have to decide, don’t we? Is it worthwhile to obey God, no matter what the cost may be? Oh, may God grant to you and to me the willingness to say yes to God.
Pharaoh wasn’t willing. He hardened his heart because it was going to cost him the free labor that he had from millions of people. Now, there is another verse that occurs to me momentarily — and that is found in Proverbs 29:1, “He that being often reproved heart of his heart shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy”. He that being often reproved hardness his, well it says neck here, same thing. What is involved there? It’s the unwillingness to submit to divine guidance. God wants to guide you, and you want it your way, and so you go your own way with disastrous consequences.
Oh, pray your way through the day beloved, pray your way through the day. Trust God to keep you and guide you and say yes to His blessed guidance, every step along the way.
Dear Father today, may we specialize in putting Thee first, 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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