You don’t really convince God about anything when you pray. He looks to see how real you are; how sincere you are.
Alright thank you very much and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that familiar greeting establishes the fact that you and I are together once again for a few moments over the Word of God. This is your good friend, Dr. Cook, and I delight at the privilege of sharing some of God’s Word with you.
We were in the middle of the passage in Mark chapter 12 verse 38-40 where our Lord Jesus was explaining quite clearly the difficulty faced by the literate and courteous member of the scribes who had just been speaking with Him. A man to whom He had said thou art not far from the Kingdom of God. He answered discreetly. He answered with knowledge of God’s Word when they were talking together. But Jesus said not far. Not in but not far. So He says beware of the scribes, why? Because although they are literate and they know the Scriptures and they can explain the Scriptures they’ve got interior motivation that’s different.
They love to look religious. They love to be recognized as having religious influence. They love prominence. That is what they love and then on the other side, knowledge of God’s Word does not keep a human being from being wrong in his procedures. It says they devour widow’s houses. What does that mean? They foreclose a mortgage on a widow that doesn’t have anything to pay. Now I understand that business is business and I sympathize with the remark that was made by a friend of mine years ago who as in the mortgage business and I said to him, doesn’t it bother you that you foreclosed on this man? He’s a Christian. Doesn’t that bother you? He said, well Bob, I advised him not to buy the piece of property that he bought which was too expensive for him and then I watched him as after he bought that piece of property he also went in debt for other things that he didn’t need. He bought a boat and an extra car and this and that and so finally he ran out of money and he said, I cannot feel sorry for him because he did this deliberately.
Well I began to understand at that point that there comes a point at which if you’re in business you say I’m sorry but that’s how it is. In other words, because I am a Christian I have no right to expect other people to give me an extra break so I can be careless. I’ve had to go through that in business and in management through the years. Somebody will say what kind of Christian are you leaning on me because I happen to stretch my coffee break ha hahaha you know? As though because I am a Christian you ought to let me have half an hour coffee break you know? Well there is no causal connection between your Christianity and your right to stretch your coffee break to a half hour, you understand me? Business is business. Alright, we agree on that.
Still, there is a point at which a man who loves God with all his heart and who in line with the second great commandment loves his neighbor as himself, there is a point at which a person who’s love for God is real and who’s love for people is real is not going to devour as Jesus said, widow’s houses. The idea of seeing how much property, you can distress property, you can gobble up no matter how it hurts other people.
Farmers in the Midwest have seen both sides of that coin recently. I’ve had people talk to me about it. In one area there would be creditors who simply moved in and said sorry, move out, this is it, I don’t care how you feel, this is it, I’m foreclosing and that is it. In another area, a creditor, banker or mortgage company or whatever would say let’s work this out. There has to be a way to work it out without making you sacrifice the land that’s been in your family for three or four generations. We’ll work something out and they did. There is a way to face a human need aside from being completely irresponsible. That’s all I’m saying. There has to be a way to face human need aside from being completely irresponsible and from just being completely inflexible.
Do you know God always has His answer to situations? Have you found that out? I remember on one occasion I was going to fire a person and I had told him that I wanted to see him, not wanting to embarrass him in front of other people in the office, I said let’s get together after dinner in the office. So we arranged that he and I would both have dinner at home and then we would come back to the office and I was going to, he didn’t know at this point, but I was going to fire him. Alright, I was burdened about it and I did a good deal of praying about it because you know, these things aren’t pleasant but I figured it had to be done because things were just not going right. The man was his own worst bottleneck so I got to the office at the right time and low and behold I found this man whom I was about to meet in the middle of an earnest prayer meeting with a couple of other people who had great burdens about which they were praying. Well you know you don’t tap him on the shoulder and say come on buddy, let’ have that conference, I want to fire you. You don’t do that.
So what I did was, I got down on my knees and prayed with them and at the same time my heart was opening to God about their burdens, the precious indwelling Spirit of God flashed into my own mind a solution to the problem that I faced short of dismissing this man. And so when the prayer meeting ended, we had talked a bit then this gentleman and I went over into an adjoining office and we sat down and I said now my brother, these are the options, the work isn’t going well and I could simply let you go but instead I think the Lord is asking me to do something else. I’m going to surround you with people whose abilities compliment you at the point where you are poorly organized, they will be better organized and I’m going to surround you with some people that will be helpful in doing the work. Well he was overjoyed because he himself had been upset about the way that things were going and so there was God’s solution. I felt so grateful to my Lord as I walked on home on that evening, many many years ago now so there is no danger in telling what happened because the people and the time are long long past. But the lesson I learned, beloved, has stuck with me through the years.
What am I telling you? You don’t have to be inexorable and ruthless. You do have to love God and people with all your heart and in the process you look for God’s options in a situation that would otherwise be hopeless. You want to remember that? You have to love God and love people with all your heart and in the process look for God’s options in situations that would otherwise be hopeless. God has a way up when there doesn’t seem to be any way out. Devour widow’s houses.
Then another thing about this scribe that our Lord Jesus was talking about, He said for a pretense make long prayers. It does seem as though people generally feel that the longer you pray the more spiritual you are and we hear people now and again say well, I prayed four hours and I often wonder how they managed it. But especially in public, the public prayers of people often times are strung out as a kind of an oration you know, because you have the impression that the individual is sort of either impressed with himself or trying to impress God.
Now, the Lord gets tired of this. He says in Isaiah chapter 1 bring no more vain oblations. He says, “Your new moons and appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble unto me. I am weary to bear them.” God gets tired of religious programs. Well so do some of us, right?
And he says, “When you spread forth your hands I will hide my eyes and when ye make many prayers I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood, wash them, make you clean. Put away the evil of your doings. Cease to do evil, learn to do well.” Ah yes, God gets tired of religious observances. Had you realized that? All of the routine, all of the ritual, all of the pomp and ceremony through which we go in the effort to appear religious for a pretense. It says, “to appear religious.” Everything we go through like that God says I get tired of it. Why? Because He looks for reality. He looks for reality.
He told a story, our Savior did, of the publican and that was the tax collector who was a pariah. Everybody looked down on him and snubbed him, and the Pharisee, both of whom arrived at the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself said, “God I thank thee that I am not as other men, an adulteress, unjust or even as this publican, I fast twice in the week, I pay tithes of all I possess” and he went on bragging to God about what he was and then the Lord Jesus said the tax collector wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to Heaven. People in those days prayed with their eyes open looking up to Heaven. He wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to Heaven but smote upon his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me, I’m a sinner.” Jesus said, “I tell you this man, the tax collector went down to his house justified rather than the other.” God looks for reality in prayer.
Now beloved, how real are we in our praying? I have to face that all the time. I’ve been praying ever since I was a little boy, I know the language but I have to face the fact that it’s possible for Bob Cook to set his mouth going in prayer without his heart following it always. How is it beloved, with you on that score? God looks for sincerity; He looks for reality. “Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart,” God said through the ancient prophet.
Oh today, let’s you and I do an overhaul of our motivation in praying. You don’t really convince God about anything when you pray. He looks to see how real you are; how sincere you are. “Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart.” The Lord Jesus knew the thoughts of men the Bible says. He perceived their thoughts, He knew what they were thinking. God knows what you are thinking, not just what you’re saying. David Morkin said to me one day before we knelt to pray together he said, “Bob, God will not discover anything about you by the time you say amen so you better tell the truth now.” Oh, what an indictment of our frequent insincerities in prayer. Tell God the truth. Tell God the truth. Dr. Pettingill used to say if you wake up feeling cranky, don’t try and tell God everything’s all right, tell Him that you’ve got a grouch and ask Him to fix it. Pretty good idea, wouldn’t you think?
Tell God the truth because that’s what He wants rather than long prayers.
Dear Father today may we serve Thee in sincerity, in truth in Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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