Spiritual Eclipse

To have joy in the Will of God means to bring my own spirit so in subjection to God’s Will that I really enjoy doing what He tells me to do.

Scripture: Romans 15:32, Philippians 1


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing all right? Well, it’s my joy to be with you once again for these next few moments and I want to continue discussing the matters that need real striving – Paul’s word is “agonize”- agonizing, striving, wrestling in prayer. A prayer warrior – what does he or she pray about? You pray for individual needs, you pray against unbelieving opposition, and then you pray for saints of God who may not realize that you’re as nice as you really are. You know, not every other Christian realizes that you’re as nice as you are and sometimes we get what we call the Jerusalem cold shoulder from God’s dear people.

Well, that’s one thing that Paul was praying about because he represented an affront too many of those folk who felt that God’s gospel was for God’s chosen people only. We often argue with folk from ignorance. Get the facts, first of all. John Walvoord told me that his secret of management as head of that great Dallas Theological Seminary, his secret of management is to say “Every problem will yield to more facts and if people are in disagreement, he sends them back to do some more homework and get some more facts. Pretty good idea.

And then pray over what you have found out to be the facts and God will bring to the surface facts and concepts that will unify you. It is not necessary to agree on every scintilla of detail in order for you to have real fellowship with other believers but in answer to prayer, God will bring you to a place where you do agree on the things that really matter. Many years ago, I stepped into the office of a man who now is with the Lord but who at that time was an outstanding Christian leader. Unfortunately, he differed with me on some things I was trying to do.

I was then head of Youth for Christ. As its president I was the target of criticism that might be leveled at the group and responsible to carry on the work. Now this brother had really taken off after me in his publications and in his verbal pronouncements because he disagreed with the way in which we were at that time trying to get the gospel out. We were asking people from churches everywhere as well as unsaved folk to join with us in weekly rallies, large youth rallies, and then we had set up the high school Bible club movement and there were other things we were doing – all of them on a cooperative basis and then taking those who made commitments to Christ and channeling them back into the Bible preaching church of their choice. That was our format and still is.

But this brother just felt that it just wasn’t right. Well, I thought I’d go see the man. My rule always has been “go see the man.” You may write a letter or whatever but letters oftentimes say something different from what you had in mind when you wrote them. And so if you want to solve something, go see the person. And I did. First of all, I prayed earnestly and just really sought the Lord about it and when I went into his office, I was then in a spirit, I recall, of real love and consideration for him rather than antagonism.

And so we sat down and talked and brought to the surface of the conversation those areas in which we differed from each other. Well then we had a time of prayer. And when we got through praying, this dear man looked at me. He said, “Bob,” he said, “I’ve known you for years. I know that you believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant word. I know that you’re straight on the gospel. You love the Lord Jesus. You’re trying to win souls.” He says, “You go on,” he says, “go on and do what God has asked you to do,” he said, “It’ll be all right.”

And from that point on, he stopped writing against our work in his paper, his publications; he stopped criticizing us in public, and every now and again, he said something good about us. Can you imagine? Well, now, what did it? I am sure that in answer to prayer, God caused unifying facts to come to the surface. You don’t have to agree on every little bit of procedure. Give other people room to do things their way. God uses all different kinds of folk. We just finished this passage in Romans where it says, “To his own master he standeth or falleth, who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea and he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

Leave your Christian opposition with God but pray, agonize in prayer until unifying facts have been brought to the surface so that God can get you together in heart even though you may be miles apart in procedure. Good idea? Now, pastor, use this in your next deacons meeting. When you strike a snag and the brethren and sisters are arguing about something, just back off for a moment and have some prayer and let the gentle spirit of God bring some unifying factors into the thought process. You’d be surprised what the Lord will do.

You don’t have to agree on everything in order to have fellowship with God’s dear people. What you do need to have is a heart that is one with someone else in terms of love for Christ and for God’s will. Now, he says, “That I may come here,” is his next prayer request, “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God.” “Joy in the will of God.” You would think that that is an automatic factor but unfortunately, because you and I are human, it isn’t always automatic. God’s criticism of people in Malachi is that, he says, “Ye have covered the offer of the Lord with tears,” and said, “What a weariness it is.” “You’ve covered the altar of the Lord with tears,” and said, “what a weariness is it.” It’s in Malachi.

Well, there are some people who seem frankly, just to endure the will of God. This is not normal Christianity as you know. “I delight to do Thy will. Yea, Thy law is within my heart,” the Psalmist wrote. Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full.” Simon Peter wrote concerning the Lord Jesus, “In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Paul the apostle said that the fruit that is the result of the Holy Spirit’s control in your life, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,” and so on.

So normal Christianity is joyful Christianity and normal relationship with the will of God is joyful submission to the will of God. “Well, then, Bob Cook,” you say, “where does the striving in prayer come in?” Well, frankly, I think it comes in at the point where our stubborn human nature refuses to say yes to God’s will. God as a faithful heavenly father reserves the right to discipline His children and to chastise them according to the writer to the Hebrews whom the Lord, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth;” “every,” that is “son whom he receiveth.”

We all get our share of divine spankings, don’t we? And the fact is that if I refuse to do God’s will, He has ways of bringing me around to it, doesn’t He? So that the striving in prayer comes at the point where my own human nature needs to be brought into subjection to God’s will that I may come to you with joy in the will of God. Now, Paul, actually got his trip to Rome as a prisoner, didn’t he? He got there in handcuffs so that his coming to Rome had some unpleasant physical circumstances attached to it.

But he says, “I want to come with joy.” Why? Well, later on he says to the people in Philippi as he writes to them, he says, “I would that ye should know that the things which have happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel.” “While,” he said, “some people preach Christ sincerely out of love and others are preaching them just in order to embarrass me, but,” he says, “whether in pretense or in truth Christ is being preached and I therein do rejoice, yea and I’ll keep on rejoicing.” That’s from Philippians 1.

To have joy in the will of God means to bring my own spirit so in subjection to God’s will that I really enjoy doing what He tells me to do. Dr. Stephen Paine for many years president of the great Houghton College in Houghton, New York had one of his children who was being taught at the time real obedience, a little boy, then, of perhaps 6 or 7. They were trying to teach him to obey happily. One day he was out in the yard playing and his mother called him, asked him to come in and do some childhood chore and he called back to her and said, “Do I have to do it, mother right now? She said, “Yes, you have to do it right now.”

“Well,” he said thoughtfully, if I have to do it, I’ll do it and I won’t make any fuss about it.” Bless his heart. He had learned his lesson, hadn’t he? I think of our second girl, Marilyn, who when she was about I suppose three, was with the rest of the family at a local restaurant in La Salle, Illinois where I was pastor at the time. And on a Sunday we would sometimes go to a restaurant where I knew the chef and he would treat us with a little extra consideration because of our friendship. Well, we sat down at the table and there were menus and we distributed one to Coreen, my wife, and one to Carolyn and then I, just for a joke, I took this big menu and plopped it down in front of little Marilyn.

And we all looked at it and finally I looked over her with some mischief in my eyes and I said, “Okay, dearie, what do you think you want from the menu? Well, this was just too much for her and her little eyes filled up and she said, “Papa, I just want what you want.” I’ll tell you, at that minute she could have had the world with a string around it. She could have had anything her little heart desired. “I just want what you want.” That’s what God wants you to say. “Abba Father, Papa God, I just want what you want.” Joy in the will of God. That comes in answer to prayer, friend. You pray about it today and He’ll answer.

Dear Father, with all our hearts we ask that Thou would make us effective prayers so that things and people may be changed, 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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