The formula for doing the right thing includes seeking God, avoiding impulse and fleeing from temptation. Pray and prioritize all the things in your life.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Oh, I trust so. Yes, this is your friend, Dr Cook. I’m glad to be back. Somebody wrote me the other day and said, “Why do you say Dr Cook?” Well, for one reason, there are a couple of other people in my area with my same name, strangely enough. But only one of them has the D-R period in front and that’s me. [chuckle] So when I use it, it’s not to arrogate anything to myself or to be stuck up, it’s just to identify. Is that alright with you? Okay.
I’m glad to be back with you. We were talking about Mark 14, the story of the betrayal and the trial of Christ. We’d just gotten into that. Now, Lord Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” And I told you some of the temptations that might be included in that admonition.
One of them, which was to be asleep on the job. We talked about that the last time we got together, going through the motions, doing nothing. And I told you a little something about how to get out of that kind of a bind. It starts with praying honestly about it and letting the Holy Spirit of God give you the next step, in which you can get into real, God glorifying action. Do you ever prioritize your activities? You know what I mean by that? Make a list of all the things that you have to do, and then rearrange that list, in terms of the most important at the top, and then the next most important, and then after that, the next most important, and so on down the list, until, finally, you come down to the last, where it really doesn’t matter, if it gets done or not. Prioritize your activities and then pray about them. You will be surprised at how the Spirit of God guides you and makes you more efficient.
Do you wanna try that for yourself? Make a list of everything you have to do, and then rearrange that list, in terms of the most important, and then the next most important, and so on, and then tackle the most important thing first. Go right at it. And you’ll find that the day goes better, and at the end of the day, if you didn’t quite finish all the cats and dogs at the end of the list, it doesn’t matter all that much anyway. And you’ll be satisfied that God guided you through the day. Good idea? Eh, I throw that in for you, no charge. [chuckle]
There was the temptation to do something drastic, impulsively, to try to show that you’re really with it. “Peter drew a sword, smote a servant of the high priest, cut off his ear.” When my father was telling this story, during my boyhood days, he would tell this story, and then he would say with a twinkle in his eye, he would say, “And if that feller hadn’t been a good dodger, he woulda lost his head instead of his ear. He was a good dodger.” [chuckle]
I remember that. Well, I guess he had to dodge a little, in order to keep from any other injury, as that sword came around with a huge awkward swipe. Peter was a fisherman, not a swordsman. And he was awkward in his handling of this weapon, but he did some damage, nonetheless. Luke, Dr Luke, with typical physician thoughtfulness, tells us that, “Our Lord Jesus put the ear back in place and healed it.” He touched him and healed him. Even in that hour, when He was being attacked, and betrayed, and was about to be taken prisoner, our blessed Lord had compassion, and thoughtfulness, and wanted to heal where there was a need. What a wonderful Savior. Well, Peter, now, give him credit for wanting to do something. He had said, “Though all forsake thee and flee, yet, will I never forsake thee. I’m willing to die for thee.” And so he got a sword somewhere. It was illegal to have a weapon under Rome.
For the ordinary citizen, you weren’t supposed to have any weapons, but he got one somewhere. And now, he’s gonna do something. Small thought here, whenever you’re tempted to lash out, and do something drastic, and impulsive, and radical, you’ll probably be wrong. All of my mistakes have been made in a hurry. How about yours? Now, this was a mistake on Peter’s part. Now, Lord Jesus said gently to him, “Put up thy sword into the sheath, Peter. The cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” It wasn’t the right thing to do. It was a brave thing. Give him credit for being brave. It was a faithful thing. He had told Christ that he was willing to defend Him. It was a faithful thing. It was a brave thing, but it wasn’t the right thing.
How do you find out what the right thing is to do for your blessed Lord? Well, I think you have to go to your knees and seek God about it. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him.” That means ask Him to guide you and He shall direct thy path. “The steps of a good man,” says the Psalms in Psalm 37, “Are ordered of the Lord and He delighteth in his way, though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” Your steps, and stops, and stumbles are all in God’s care. So I think the first thing to do, to find out the right thing to do, is to seek God, which precludes the possibility of impulsive, purely human defensive action. Avoid like the plague, beloved, the impulse to do something impulsive, to defend yourself for some other servant of God on your own.
What you do humanly to try to defend God, is going to end up with a backlash against you. You may not believe that, you may disagree and that’s alright. My father used to say, “We’ll be in heaven someday and you’ll know I was right.” [laughter] You can’t argue with that kinda logic, can you? [laughter] No, but it’s true. What you do impulsively, and in self-will to try, somehow, to stabilize the situation, without God’s miracle power, often involves a painful backlash to you, and it does more harm than good. Don’t do it. Avoid it like the plague. Instead, seek your Lord and ask Him what He wants you to do. Had Peter been praying with the Savior, he would’ve been less apt to do the two things, which did him in. One was to wield that sword and the other was to deny that he even knew the Lord Jesus Christ.
And somebody, of course, is saying, “Well, Cook, listen. Does that mean that we all sit around, and pray, and don’t do anything?” Oh, no. Look at the third chapter, Philippians, where you have that beautiful triad of action. “Pray, in all things,” He said, “Supplication, all things, let your request be made known unto God. Pray about everything. Then let your mind be programmed by the Holy Spirit of God, who indwells the believer.” And He says, “Think on these things.” And then he says, “Those things which you have both received, and heard, and seen in me, do, and the God of Peace shall be with you.” You pray about things and the Peace of God is in your heart. You obey God, and do something, after He’s told you, and God is with you. The God of Peace shall be with you.
It’s pray, think, and do, that’s the order. No, you don’t sit around and sing yourself into sanctified senility, beloved. That isn’t it. I’m not advocating that. I’m simply saying, “You let God guide you, instead of lashing out in your own self-defense.” You don’t have to defend yourself or God. He’d take care of you. Oh, yes. “For I am with thee,” He said. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” You can trust your Lord to see you through, and He will protect His own work, and His own workers. Hallelujah for that. You better just be quiet before God, until He guides you, and then you’ll know what to do. I’m not advocating inaction. I’m simply saying, “What you do impulsively, and drastically, and in self-defense, is always going to be a mistake.” Alright? [chuckle]
Well, it’s pretty hard to take, especially if somebody’s picking on you, I know. But then, anything I tell you, I’ve been there and I’ve tried it both ways. I wanna tell you something, “Waiting on God and obeying him is far more productive than any amount of feuding, and fussing, and lashing out.” Believe me. Now, there was, of course, obviously, the temptation to run away. It said, “They all forsook Him and fled.” Temptation to run away, “Let me get outta here. Let me get away from this.” Temptation to run away from the situation, run away from pressure, run away from testing. Now, there is a time to run away. He said, “Flee also, youthful lusts.” There is the kind of situation that involves the pressures, which do not admit of time to fool around with it. “When you are thus tempted,” Paul said, “Flee, run away.” Don’t call for a prayer meeting, you get going, and put geography between you, and the source of the temptation.” “Flee fornication,” said he. “There are certain things that you should run away from, but then there are other situations where you should stand up and be counted, stand therefore,” he said. And having done all to stand, when the dust is settled, you’ll still be on your feet, standing straight, and tall for your God.
Running away from a situation never solves it. Have you found that out? No, it doesn’t. You just bring the damage with you. I told you some time ago, I think about the minister, who announced one Sunday morning, that sister so and so had moved to a distant city and he said, “You know, she went to this city, so that she could get a new start in life and get away from her troubles. But I got news for her. She’s gonna have trouble where she went, because, you see, she brought herself with her.” Yes, that’s my trouble and yours as well. Wherever we go, we bring ourselves, and our own package of hangups, and potential failures, and all the rest, don’t we? You don’t solve anything by running away.
What you do is, you commit it to the Lord and let Him handle your own attitude, to where you’re no longer the victim of it. You’ll never forget some of those failures that you’ve made. Memory still works, doesn’t it? But Jesus can sanctify the memory, to the point where it’s not a threat to you and you can look at it at arms length. As the psychologist says, “Without it’s being a threat to you.” God sanctifies your memories, so that you can go on, and serve Him without flinching, and wincing every time the thing comes up. You don’t have to run away. You can’t run away, successfully anyway. Commit it to your blessed Lord. Let Him sanctify the memory, alright? And then, of course, there was the temptation to try to be anonymous, try not to be noticed.
A little boy went away to camp, and when he came back… It was a secular camp… When he came back, his mother asked him and said, “Sonny, did you have to stand any persecution, because you’re a Christian?” He laughed, he said, “No, nobody ever found out.” [chuckle] The temptation to try to be anonymous. “And Peter was standing outside, and John went, and brought him into the judgment hall, because John was already in, and was known to the high priest. And then, they said to him, ‘You were one of them in the garden.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘I wasn’t.’ A little maid looked at him and said, ‘You were one of them.’ He said, ‘No, I wasn’t.’ And again, the next time somebody said, ‘Yeah, you’re one of them.’ He said, ‘No.’ And then the cock,” cock-a-doodle-doo, “The rooster crowed. And Peter remembered what Jesus had said. He went out and wept bitterly.” You can’t be anonymous. We’re gonna talk about that the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, help us to stand up for Jesus, not in our own strength, but in His enablement, through the Holy Spirit of God. 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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