What We Ought To Do
There are a lot of variables that you can’t control even though you "are busy doing your duty", as we say. Now, what do you do about them? How do exercise faith?
Alright. Thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right today? Well, I trust so, bless your heart. I hope everything is all right at your house. Days differ, don’t they? Some days you wake up and you think “Oh boy, everything is going to be great.” And sometimes it turns out that way, and other times when you wake up you have that foreboding sense of “Oh, do I have to get up and face this day today?” Do you know the feeling?
Well, either way our Blessed Lord is with you. He will walk with you through the good days when you ought to praise Him especially and He will be with you during the cloudy dark days when your heart may be heavy and you can cast your burden on the Lord. “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” So, either way you can trust your Lord and Hallelujah for that.
Well this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and we’re looking at the Galatians 5 as a commentary on 1 Peter 1 when where Peter talks about being partakers of the divine nature. What is that? What is the divine nature? I looked, therefore, Galatians 5:22-23 as a profile not complete, to be sure you Bible students are quick to remind me of that. But it’s a partial profile at least of what God is as He comes in to dwell in your life by the indwelling Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Gentleness and goodness–that’s where we were the last time we got together. And we talked a little bit about what it means to be gentle and then we just got into this matter of goodness. Uprightness mixed with kindness, uprightness mixed with kindness. There is a kind way to maintain your testimony at the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many years ago, I travelled in Europe and in some parts of Europe, France for instance and elsewhere, it’s the custom to have wine at the table as a beverage, and dear Christian people have no conscience whatsoever about that, that’s part of their culture and you don’t criticize them for it. But by the same token, here I was, Bob Cook, lately arrived from America and I’m what you call a “teetotaler.” I didn’t believe in using alcoholic beverages and so what was I going to do?
Well, I adopted this approach, I had made friends with the head of the house where I was being entertained and I took him aside, I said “Now, give me some advice, would you?” And I explained to him that while I had no criticism whatsoever of his lifestyle, that I came from a setting where we didn’t drink alcoholic beverages. “Why,” he said, “that’s no problem at all.” He said “We’ll give you a glass of mineral water.” And so, he produced some sparkling water, I don’t know whether it was Perrier or what, but in any case he produced some sparkling water from somewhere and when they drank, a toast to the family, while I raised my glass of water and they raised their glasses of whatever it was and no problem at all.
You don’t have to criticize people nor indeed do you have to lower your standards if you mix it with kindness. Goodness is not self-righteousness. Goodness is love refusing to be less than God’s best. You get that? Goodness is not self-righteousness, look at me how straight I stand, how tall I am, how good I am, that isn’t it. That’s pharisaism, that’s self-righteousness. Goodness in the bible sense is love, refusing to be less than God’s best. You try that on for size and see what the Lord will do for you. There is a loving way to take your stand for Christ. You don’t have to be holier than thou and you don’t have to give offense, you can just simply say this is how it is with me and God, all right.
Gentleness, goodness, then what? Oh, the next word is a great word, “faith.” Faith, faith. I’ll give you a Cook definition of faith. Faith is the quality of risking any situation on God and His Word. Faith is the willingness to risk a situation on God and His Word. And I guess the best illustration is one that I’ve often given you, the Hebrew young man standing before an irate King, his face purple with rage saying to them “Now, I’ll give you one more chance if when the orchestra begins to play, you bow down and worship this image that I have setup. All right, I’ll spare your lives but if not, you’re going to be thrown into the fiery furnace.”
Well, they said “Oh, King we’re not worried to answer you in this matter.” They said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto thee, oh, King, we will not bow down or serve the image which thou has setup.” That’s Faith. That’s a Hallelujah anyway kind of a thing. God can do it and He will.
If He chooses to do something different, I’m with him anyway, I’m trusting him anyway. Faith risks the situation on God. Oh, put that to work in your own life, will you beloved? And I’m not talking about some hysterical procedure that puts you way out in left field with folk who aren’t wrapped too tightly as we say in Brooklyn. I am not talking about something that demonstrates lack of good sense. What I am talking about is when you know what the Will of God is, dare to do it no matter what and He will see you through.
Faith is risking the situation on God, faith. Now, faith asks and faith receives. Our Lord Jesus said “Whatsoever you desire when you pray?” That’s the asking, “Believe that you receive them and you shall have them, and when you stand praying, forgive,” he added. “If you don’t forgive neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.” Forgiveness is part of successful praying and that of course is a whole other sermon which we won’t get to today but just remember it, will you? But faith asks and receives.
I read somewhere, the ABC’s of Prayer; Ask, Believe and Claim. Ask, Believe and Claim. Believe that God means what He says and act on it accordingly, that’s faith. Faith is not some mysterious something. People say to me sometimes “Oh, Brother Cook, I wish I had more faith.” That’s like saying, “I wish I had more breath.” You got all the breath there is, open your lungs and bring some in.
Faith is an attitude and a relationship and an action. An attitude that says, “God can do it.” A relationship that says, “I’m His, I’m going to trust Him.” An action that says, “I’m going to act on the fact that I do trust God.” Now, what have you been praying about lately? Truth to tell some of us don’t have very much of a prayer list, our prayers are largely formal, “Now, I lay me down to sleep prayers.” But if you do happily have a list of things that you’ve been asking God about, just go at them with the background of faith. Get some promises from the Word of God and pray on the basis of the promises.
It’s a very good thing to do, pray on the basis of God’s promises. Because He will always honor His Word, and so you ask God about these things on the basis of what He has promised and His inerrant word, the Bible. And then in your own heart, you take that leap of faith, that step of absolute dependence on God, not simply telling Him but in your heart, taking that step that says “I’m going to trust God about this no matter what.” And then you take another step of claiming and thanking God for it. When you begin to thank God for the answer, often times you see it arriving, when the people of God, you read in the old testament, when they began to sing and to praise the Lord set ambushments against the enemy and the battle was won. When they began to sing and to praise, the battle was won.
You want to remember then, this matter of faith. Faith asks, faith believes and faith claims, and don’t forget to praise your Blessed Lord. Thank Him. Thank Him for what He is doing. And you say “Well, how can I thank Him when I don’t see it?” Well, go to your Bible. Faith is the evidence of things, hope for the substance of things you hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. You don’t see it but you know it’s yours. You don’t see it, but you know it’s yours. And so you can claim by faith, God’s answer to your prayer.
We become so materialistic, so pragmatic. We say “If you can’t package it, you can’t weigh it, you can’t analyze it in the scientific laboratory then it couldn’t possibly be real.” Well, I remember the old Quaker speaker who was accosted by someone who is heckling him and said “How can you believe in God, sir? Have you ever seen God?” And the old man said “No, let me ask you a question. Does thee have a brain?” And the man said “Why, of course.” And he said “Has thee ever seen thy brain?” No, he hadn’t. He said “How does thou know that thou dost have a brain?”
You don’t have to see something to know that it works. And you can believe God, you can believe His promises. The old chorus that we used to sing is as youngsters, “Every promise in the book is mine. Every chapter, every verse, every line, all our proofs of His love divine, every promise in the book is mine.” You can claim God’s Word, you can take your stand on it and He will never disappoint you. There you have this whole concept of faith.
Now, how do you make that real in everyday living? Number one, God does not exempt me from doing my duty. If my car is dirty, I can’t exercise faith and see it miraculously cleaned up. I have to go wash it. If the garbage needs to be taken out, I can’t pray about it and find that miraculously it has found its way to the curb. There are some things that God expects you and me to do. I used to tell the young people at the college, “Our prayer meeting is no substitute for doing your homework, God will never, on final exam He will never help you remember something you didn’t first forget. You have to put in that head before God will help you bring it out.”
God expects me to do my duty. He expects me to do the things that are mine to do. Our prayer meeting is no substitute for doing your duty, having said that, you know and I know that there are so many variables in life that we cannot control. Your domestic situation, your family situation, your relationship with neighbors and friends, your relationship with the job, your relationship with the schools that your child attends, your relationship with the world and culture around you, your personal physical health and your future, and if you’re on the way to retirement how and where you’re going to retire and then how much you will have to retire on, if anything?
A lot of variables that you can’t control even though you are busy doing your duty as we say. Now, what do you do about them? How do exercise faith? Number one, do what you ought to do. Do the things you can do as unto the Lord. Whatsoever you do, do it heartily to the Lord and not unto men knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance for you served the Lord Christ. Do the ordinaries of life, the things you ought to do, do them for the Lord. Number two, pray about the extraordinaries, the variables of life and ask God to guide you, and number three, take the step of faith and obedience as you understand it. After you prayed about a thing as God leads you, go ahead and do it and trust Him to see you through.
I’ll talk a little about this again the next time we get together.
Dear Father today, O, may we be people of faith, taking the step of faith in obedience to Thy Word. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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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