The Desire To Change
We can bring the impossible areas of our life to God that we feel we can't change. He gives us the "want to" to turn over our habits, thoughts and heart to Him.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? ‘Doin all right today? Well I trust so. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. And we’re back together again, you and I, around the Word of God. I love this, don’t you? The miles drop away, as I sometimes tell you, and you and I are together, sharing the Word of God by means of this blessed modern miracle of radio.
I never dreamed when, as a boy I tinkered with a crystal set made out of wires wound around an oatmeal box, and what they called slider bar that would make a connection between various sections of the wire that had been wound upon that box, connected with a galena crystal, which in some mysterious fashion collected the proper wavelength and converted it into electrical impulses that registered themselves in earphones. There I sat at a basement table in Cleveland, Ohio, listened to the Democratic National Convention. I think that would have been what, 1924? Something like that… (Laughs)
I never dreamed that years later — and now continuously since 1962 — there would be that blessed privilege of sharing the Word of God by means of radio. But here it is, and here you are, and here I am, and we’re together with our blessed Lord, the indwelling Holy Spirit, guiding us as we study the Word of God. We’re looking at 1 Peter 4. The last time we got together, we had just begun to consider this 17th verse: “For the time,” says Peter, “the time has come. The judgment must begin at the house of God. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?”
Spiritual renewal starts with the believers, doesn’t start with the heathen. I remember so vividly hearing some of my deacons pray. Strange, in different churches, the prayer always seemed to be the same: “Lord, send in the sinners that they may be converted.” I remember that prayer being prayed earnestly by some of the brethren in, in deacons meeting. And that’s a good prayer. But our Lord Jesus never told us to pray that way. He said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvests, that He will send forth labors into His harvest.”
And God’s way is for you and for me to go out into the harvest and to bring people to the Lord Jesus, isn’t it? Yes. Renewal always starts with the believer, not with the heathen. Revival starts with the warming, and cleansing, and breaking up, of human hearts — the breaking up, as the prophet said it, of the fallow ground; that hasn’t been ploughed for a while. Judgment must begin at the house of God.
And you and I talked about that for a while. You start with the obvious, things that you know about. Every one of us has compartments in his thought life and heart life, that are peculiarly our own. And we reserve the right to have it so. We don’t talk to others about it. We rarely pray about it. We just say, “That’s how I am,” and we go on. Right? Now, if you want spiritual renewal, you start there in the familiar areas of your life which you know are let us say, in disagreement with the revealed will of God in His inerrant Word, the Bible.
Bring them to the Lord. And of course someone says, “Well brother Cook, I can’t do anything about it; I can’t change myself.” And that of course is patently true, quite obvious to anybody who’s ever tried to change human behavior either by lecturing or by sublimation or by sheer will power. Lecturing doesn’t do anything, it bounces off the psyche. Sublimation works up only to a point. And sheer willpower may work temporarily, but you get tired of trying and give up. You just don’t change yourself by yourself.
But the wonderful part about being a believer is that you can bring these impossible areas of human nature to your blessed Lord. “It is God,” said Paul, “it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure.” To will takes care of the ‘want to’. Now just to be brutally honest, there are some things about which you and I may not even want to change. All right?
Many years ago when I was trying to convince someone to stop smoking — this would have gone back into the early 1940’s I guess. (Laughs) Oh dear! How the years go by, don’t they? (Laughs) Anyhow, I was, I was dealing with this, with this man as he smoked his pipe. He said two things: one was, and he pulled the pipe out of his mouth and blew a cloud of fragrant smoke in my direction, and he said, “Well preacher, this is my cross. I guess I’ll have to bear it.” (Laughs) The other was he, he recited this little couplet: “Tobacco’s a filthy weed, I like it; And from the devil it doth proceed, I like it; It picks your pockets and burns your clothes, and makes a smokestack out of your nose; I like it!” And he laughed and went on.
No, you don’t get anywhere by lecturing people — that’s for sure. And sublimation, the, the use of the unconscious mind in order to suggest certain, certain types of conduct, or changes in conduct — that works up to a point. And then all of a sudden you collapse back into your real self again. That’s why brainwashing, as practiced by some nations in years past, never was really successful. Because the minute the pressure’s lifted, the individual comes back to what he really is after all. Will power of course is fine, but it gets tired — you get tired of trying and you give up.
So, none of these things works. But you can take any area of your life, beloved, and you can hand it over to the Lord Jesus Christ. And He can change the ‘want to’, He can change the ‘want to’ in your life. Jack Richards used to cut my hair when I was in college. He was thoroughly, blessedly, wonderfully saved; loved the Lord with all his heart. And he delighted to tell how God had gotten to him. He was a poor, weak, professing Christian for some years, as he told me the story. And there were two things about him that bothered him. One was he was profane, and the other was he, he smoked constantly.
Now he was at the time, breeding pedigreed cattle. And buyers of course would come to his farm. And inevitably they would ply him with an expensive cigar or two. And so he had the habit of smoking these cigars all through the day. And he simply became so accustomed then, to that intake of nicotine into his system that he had to now have that sort of, of, of practice. Well, a professing Christian. But it bothered him. And one day the minister happened to be at his house. And the, the whole subject came up. And Jack Richards told me that he said to the minister, “Well I can’t do anything about it. I just can’t quit.”
And the minister said, “Jack, when you get so desperate that you would rather have God deliver you than keep on living, you’d rather die than, than go on the way you are; and when you’re that desperate, God will answer your prayer.” Yeah, Jack sort of laughed and passed it off. But that concept stuck with him he told me. And so it was that one day when he came in from the field for the noon meal, he’d been thinking about this. And the, the, the desire for God to do something in his life became so great he said, that even there as he was washing his hands and face at the old washbasin that stood just outside the kitchen door, drying his hands and face on the old roller towel; that, that whole matter of being so desperate for God to do something in his life just sort of hit him he said.
And he bowed and prayed, “Oh God, if it kills me, I want to be delivered from this. I ask that you’ll, that you’ll take this habit so far away from me that I’s a be sick of it.” These were his words as he prayed. Well, he would be telling me this story, he told it again and again through he 2-3 years that I was in, in that area. And he would be telling me this story. And then at that point, he would whirl me around in the barber chair, and look into my eyes and say, “You know brother Cook, God answered that prayer so thoroughly that…” Well he said, “Look up at that sign.”
And he would point to a sign up above the mirror, in his little barber shop. And the sign said, ‘No Smoking, PLEASE. I Don’t Want To Lose My Dinner’. He said, “God delivered me so thoroughly that the smell of tobacco smell makes me sick to my stomach.”(Laughs) And he’d laugh and say, “Hallelujah!”
Now my dear friend, I can’t guarantee that that exactly is going to happen to you. But I told you the story to emphasize this point; that where you reach a point of impossibility in your life, you can’t forget or you can’t forgive or you can’t give up something, or you can’t begin something that you know you ought to do — you reach a point of impossibility in your own life; God knows that! He said, “The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” God knows the weakness of human flesh. He knows us. “There’s not a word in my tongue, but lo oh Lord thou knowest it altogether. Thou has encompassed behind me and before and acquainted with all my ways. Thou understandeth my thoughts afar off.”
This is what the psalmist said in a flash of insight, as he realized how much God knows about us. And he penned it for us in the 139th Psalm. God knows about you, beloved. And he’s not scolding you this morning, or this evening — whenever you are listening. He’s not scolding you. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” That means God isn’t scolding you. He’s willing to answer your prayer in this very instant. Now we’re considering 1 Peter 4:17 — “Judgment must begin at the house of God.” How does God renew the believer? When you and I bring the areas of impossibility to Him and say, “Lord, handle this.”
Now anything I tell you, I’ve been there. And I still have a lot of ground to cover, beloved — I want you to know that. If you say, “Oh I’ve got so much that God has to do in my life,” join the group — Bob Cook is right with you. I am, I continually ask God to do a deep and abiding and wonderful work in my life before life is over, you know. I’m still alive and kicking. (Laughs) Full of pep, and vim and vigor. And, and I pray, “Oh God I’m alive and it isn’t too late for you to do something.” (Laughs) God will work in you life, oh yes He will.
You bring the area of impossibility to Him, and let Him handle what you never could. “It is God that worketh in you both to will” — that takes care of the ‘want to’ — “and to do” — that takes care of the performance — “of His good pleasure.”
Holy Father in Jesus’ name, we give to Thee the impossible areas of our lives for Thy wonder-working power. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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