Seeing Through The Haze
I can guarantee you that God, who is still on the throne, absolutely sovereign, has plans for you that include glorifying Him through the opposition you may face and the troubles that you may experience.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend, Dr Cook. Bob Cook is my name and I’m here with you for just a few precious moments to look into the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. “Heaven and Earth shall pass away,” our Lord Jesus said, “But my Word shall never pass away.” You and I are dealing with eternal things when we turn to the Bible. We’re in First Thessalonians, Chapter 2. Paul’s talked about the fact that the church… The people in Thessalonica became followers of the churches in Judea and that following process was not in method, but it was in experiencing opposition. He said, “Because you also have suffered like things of your countrymen, even as they have.” And then, he gave us the proper perspective on opposition.
Starts with God who killed the Lord Jesus, continues with the Lord’s work and their own prophets, and then finally, you get down to your own experience and have persecuted us. Don’t start with yourself first, start with God, continue with His work and His plans, and then you can get down to what’s happening to you. “Well,” he said, “I wanted to come see you, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart.” That’s a nice phrase there. He said, “I had to be absent from you, so far as my physical presence was concerned, but my heart was still there with you.” Which leads me to remind you that your most effective relationship in Christian work has to do with those situations where you leave a piece of your heart, so to speak. Where you leave something of yourself in love. People can tell that. Oh, yes, they can. They don’t forget.
If you simply routinely take care of your religious duties and then toddle on off and forget, people know that. But if somehow you’ve put yourself into it and you leave something of yourself and your love when you leave the place physically, people know that as well. He said, “I had to go away physically, but my heart was still there.” Which leads me to remind you that it’s a very good idea to send, once in a while, a card or a letter to people for no reason at all, except that you remember them. I’ve had some of the nicest responses that you could imagine from folk to whom I’ve dropped a card, or a letter, or just a little note, or maybe a phone call. And I said, “I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing.” Those of us in public work get used to the fact that anybody who calls us up generally wants something. But it’s refreshing when somebody writes to you or calls you and doesn’t want anything, just wants to know how you’re doing and wants to encourage you.
So make sure that you maintain the heart relationship with people, even though you’re not there, and remember birthdays, and remember anniversaries. And if there’s a special day, when somebody’s loved ones slipped away into the glory, remember that. You’d be surprised how people respond if you just give them a little bit of your heart, even though you may not be with them in physical presence. “Well,” he said, “I would have come to see you, even I Paul.” He said, “I wouldn’t send a delegation. I would have come myself. Once and again, not just once, I would have been here a number of times.” “But,” he said, “Satan hindered us.” Now, we have to recognize the opposition of Satan. Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil is a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” There’s a hindrance oftentimes to God’s work, permitted certainly by the sovereignty of God. God is sovereign.
Nothing happens without his permission, but Satan is still loose in the world and he does hinder. He said, “I wished I could have come to you, but Satan hindered us.” Now, how do you identify the work of Satan? Number one, you don’t start with the devil, you start with God. Find out, what is the will of God? First of all, it’ll be in line with His Word. God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, the Bible, contains the revealed will of God in general policies, and in commandments, and in eternal truths, by which you and I can steer our lives. So the will of God, we start with His Word and it tells us what His will is for us generally. It’s God’s will that you live clean. It’s God’s will that you be thankful. It’s God’s will that you praise Him. It’s God’s will that you be separated unto Him and you give yourself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, proving what is acceptable unto God.
His will is that you give yourself to Him. God’s will is revealed in the Bible. Second, in answer to prayer, God’s indwelling Holy Spirit will reveal to you what His will is in relationship to any given situation. You have the right to wait before God until you know what the will of God is on a matter. All my mistakes have been made in a hurry. There has never been a time, when I waited on God and insisted on praying a matter through and waiting until I was certain, there’s never been a time, when I did that, that I regretted the action that was subsequently taken. Actions that have been taken after extended prayer and waiting on God have always been right. Actions that have been taken hastily, when I wasn’t quite sure, but I thought, “Well, this is what I better do,” sometimes have turned out to be regrettable.
So you have a right to wait until you know beyond any shadow of doubt what the will of God is in a given situation. Now, you don’t have to know God’s will for 10 years from now. All you have to know is what God wants you to do right now, the next step. “In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. He delighteth in his way. He shall not, though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” Step by step by step is how God leads you. His will is revealed step by step, isn’t it? So, make sure what the will of God is. In general, through studying His Word, in particular, through waiting on God in prayer, and of course, there’s no law against using good sense. I always try to analyze the situation by making a column of pros and cons. If there’s a big decision to be made, I’ll write down all the things that are for it and all the things that are against it. And then I’ll look at that, and think about it, and pray about it, and by and by, the Holy Sprint guides you. And so there’s no law in using your brains in this process. We’re not just thoroughgoing mystics only, but use your brains, and think, and analyze, and get all the counsel you can, but at long last, God is going to tell you just what His will is. Now, once that’s been established, you come up against opposition. How do you identify it?
If you know the will of God, anything that opposes it, is not of God, isn’t that true? And so you can identify it then, as being the opposition of Satan and Satanic forces. Our problem oftentimes, is that we say, “Well, the devil hindered me,” when actually we’re the victims, either of our own impatience or poor judgement, and so we blame it on the devil. Well, or conversely, we say, “The Lord lead me to do this, that, and the other.” And really, it’s not His leading, it’s some figment of our own imagination. In the old days, when I was still a student at the Moody Bible Institute, somebody came to a young lady student there and said, “The Lord has told me that you are to marry me.” “Well,” she said, “He didn’t tell me yet,” and she walked away. [laughter] There are many times that we simply assume that this is God’s will, when it turns out to be our own ideas. You know about that. Alright, now, how far have we gotten? Establish God’s general guidance from the Word of God. Establish God’s particular guidance from prayer, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and your own analysis of the situation in prayer. When you then take the step of obedience, start obeying God on that basis. Don’t just sit around and contemplate it, but start obeying God on that basis.
And He will provide the miracle necessary to carry forth His will in your life. Take for example, the fact that Elijah, when he was by the brook Cherith, the brook dried up, because of the drought, and God said, “Now, I want you to go to Zarephath. I’ve commanded a widow woman there to feed you.” Well, that certainly was an unlikely combination of circumstances, because a widow in those days didn’t have any pension, didn’t have any Social Security, didn’t have anything to fall back on by way of resources, and so it was practically certain that he was going to go to a very poor person. He came to the… He started his journey, that was the first step of obedience, got there and found this lady out picking up sticks. And he said something about it to her and she said, “Well, what I’m doing is I’m picking up some sticks to make a fire and I have nothing in the house except a little ground meal and some oil, and I’m gonna make some little flat pancakes, and my son and I are gonna eat that, and then we’ll starve to death, ’cause we have nothing else.” You remember the story. The prophet said, “Will you make a little pancake for me first? Because God is going to extend the usefulness of what you have, until the harvest comes again on the Earth.” And she did it. She obeyed. And God took care of her, and her household, and the prophet for that whole year that ensued.
It takes a step of faith. Find out the will of God, then start obeying, alright? Now, then you come up against opposition. People, either well-meaning, but misguided people, or malicious people who don’t want to see you succeed. Either way, you come up against opposition. What are we gonna do? Plow right straight ahead, once you know the will of God. Don’t stop and get scared off. Remember, God said to the prophet, “Be not afraid of their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” He said, “If you wanna be scared, I’ll let you be scared.” No, plow right ahead in the will of God, once you’re sure of it, and you don’t have to be afraid of the devil’s opposition, because the Bible says, “Greater is he that is in in you than he that is in the world.” The Holy Spirit of God indwells you, and as long as you’re doing God’s will, you’re absolutely unsinkable, even though Satan hinders you. Now, what do we draw from all this? Satan’s opposition may slow down the process of what you’re doing. Paul said, “I would have come to see you more than once, but Satan hindered me.” It may slow down the process, but it can’t sink you. And in the process, you are going to be doing and saying things that are highly valuable. Had you thought of the fact that First Thessalonians might not have been written as it was, if there hadn’t been some opposition. If Paul had come to see the people, he may not of needed to write to them.
Had you thought about that? Today, nearly 2,000 years later, we enjoy this letter of First Thessalonians, because Paul wanted to see people but couldn’t, so he wrote them a letter. Would you take a look at the opposition you have to face and see for yourself what God is capable of doing, either in spite of or even because of the opposition? Would you take a look at the circumstances which you deplore and the situations that are painful and that you don’t like? Would you take a look at your own experience and say, “Lord, what is it that you want to accomplish, either because of or in spite of this set of circumstances?” I can guarantee you that God, who is still on the throne, absolutely sovereign, has plans for you that include glorifying Him through the opposition you may face and the troubles that you may experience. Isn’t that a blessed truth? Now, Paul said in a different place, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” He said, “Trouble works for us.” Oh, hallelujah for that truth. Take a look at it for yourself today, friend. And even through your tears, you may be able to look up and say, “God, I love you and I worship you, and thanks, even for the trials.”
Father God, today, help us to see what Thou art doing, either through or in spite of the troubles that face us. May Jesus Christ get all the glory. In His name I pray, Amen. l
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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