Our will agrees with God, but in our flesh there's a disposition which renders us powerless to do what we know we ought to do. When the Lord's presented to the conscience, the first thing conscience does is to rouse the will, and the will always agrees with God. We say - "But I don't know whether my will's in agreement with God." Let's look to Jesus and we'll find that our will and our conscience are in agreement with Him every time. The thing in us which makes us say "I won't" is something less profound than our will; it's perversity, or obstinacy, and they're never in agreement with God. The profound thing in mankind is his will, not sin. Will is the essential element in God's creation of mankind: sin is a perverse disposition which enters into mankind. In a regenerated man the source of will is almighty. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." We have to work out with concentration and care what God works in; not work our own salvation, but work it out, while we base resolutely in unshaken faith on the complete and perfect Redemption of the Lord. As we do this, we don't bring an opposed will to God's will, God's will is our will, and our natural choices are along the line of God's will, and the life is as natural as breathing. God's the source of our will, therefore we're able to work out His will. Obstinacy is an unintelligent 'wadge' that refuses to be enlightened; the only thing is for it to be blown up with dynamite, and the dynamite is obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Do we believe that Almighty God is the source of our will? God not only expects
us to do His will, but He's in us to do it.
How Should We Face A Storm?
My father was a minister for 50 years. He gave me several words of encouragement and advice when I felt the calling and entered ministry.
One of the most valuable lessons came from a quaint proverb that says, “you can fight a skunk and win, but it's very seldom worth the fight.” He was saying choose your fights carefully. He was saying measure your response and don't over-react to the various crisis and spiritual storms you encounter.
In the Gospel of Mark, 6:48, I find the Disciples of Christ over-reacting to a storm on the sea. No doubt it was a terrible storm and they thought they were going to drown. But the last few words of verse 48 say that Jesus, “would have passed by them,” as he went walking to the other side of the sea.
There's several lessons I see in this story:
First, we'll face spiritual storms just as the disciples faced the physical storm. Nowhere does the Scripture promise us smooth sailing through life. We shouldn't be surprised or perplexed when we face storms---even terrible storms that seem sure to capsize our boat.
Secondly, the disciples perceived the storm worse than it really was. Jesus had told his disciples to trust him, yet they focused on the storm. So many times we focus on the storm and get our eyes off Jesus. Yes, it's hard to stay focused. Sometimes the storm rages and the winds of conflict and turmoil ravage our ship. But the fact that Jesus, “would have passed by them,” tells me that HE wasn't as concerned with the velocity of the wind or the swell of the waves.
Jesus didn't leave them alone. He took note of the storm and the fact that they were, “toiling in rowing.“ But sometimes rowing hard is good for us and Jesus knew they could make it through the storm. Jesus knew if his disciples would've trusted his word and used the strength he'd givenen to row against the storm, they would've made it.
The disciples would've still had to row hard, but they wouldn't have had to battle the fear the storm generated in their hearts.
We all face storms. Sometimes we're sure we're gonna die in the storm. We're afraid. Yet, as for me, many times when I'm given the wisdom of time and space, I realize the storm I feared so greatly at the moment was not as fierce or deadly as I had perceived.
At the moment of the storm, the disciples thought they were going to die. But Jesus, “would have passed by them,” because the storm was under His management and the disciples would survive.
Lastly, Jesus responded to their fear.
Although Jesus knew his disciples could row hard and make it through the storm, he felt compassion and responded to their fear. He calmed the storm. More than that, he calmed his disciples and taught them a great lesson.
The disciples were fighting a “skunk” of a storm, yet the battle wasn't the wind or the waves. The battle was between fear and faith in Jesus.
We must recognize the battle and be careful not to over-react to the storm. Let's not cower in fear of the storm, but row hard and trust Jesus to see us through.
Barriers We've Built It seems strange that anyone should build barriers in his own way and lay hindrances in his own path. But that's just what many people are doing. They wish to accomplish something; they desire to do something for the Lord; but some way they find themselves always hindered. They look back upon their lives, and see that they've done very little. How many times they've desired to be as useful as others! But someway, somehow, they weren't.
The greatest hindrances to our success are often found within ourselves. We build up walls between ourselves, and usefulness and then, lament because we can't surmount them. We look over the wall...and long to be there, while all the time we're placing new stones upon the wall and building it higher and higher.
One of the greatest of these barriers is "I can't." How many people have built up this wall before themselves! They see work to be done, they see plenty of opportunities for doing effective service, but they distrust their ability. Or sometimes they're not willing to do their duty, and they begin at once to build a barrier of "I can't" between themselves and their opportunity. Oh yes, it ought to be done, and they'd like to do it, but there's that wall in the way. They'd gladly do the work if they were over the wall, but it's too high, so the work remains undone. This barrier is very easy to build, but hard to surmount.
The reason it's hard to surmount is because the person's not willing to try. No one knows what he can do until he tries. "I can't" shuts out God's help completely. It leaves no room for the operation of faith; it increases weakness. The more you say, "I can't" the weaker you'll feel; and the weaker you feel, the less courage you'll have to attempt anything. It's certain that we can't do anything if we don't try. It is certain that we can succeed in doing whatever God wants us to do. He has said, "My grace is sufficient;" has he spoken truly? He says, "I will help thee;" does He mean it? If he does, you'll not fail if you do your part. The trouble is; we don't give him a chance to help. When the opportunity comes and the Spirit moves us to act, we draw back behind the wall of "I can't," and do nothing. Haven't we had many chastisements because of doing this? Haven't we missed many blessings? Hasn't work gone undone, and haven't opportunities remained unused?
Paul had no place for this barrier in his life. He was a man who did things. He believed that God would help him in all he undertook. "I can't" had no place in his life. He said, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." What we need is to quit saying, "I can't, and begin believing God. Let's throw down this self-made barrier; let's quit looking at our weakness; look at God's strength. Let's dare to do, dare to act, and we'll succeed beyond our expectations.
"I'm afraid," is almost as common a barrier as "I can't." How many people shrink from duty, saying: "I'm afraid I'll make a mistake. I'm afraid I won't do it right." They let this fear become a great wall before them; they pile fear upon fear; and as they look at them, their fears constantly grow greater. Soon they come to a place where these fears hedge them in till they dare not attempt anything. Do you remember the man who said, "I was afraid," and went and hid his lord's talent in the earth? Read his story in Matt. 25: 24-30. See what his lord said to him, and note the result of his conduct. Are we doing the same thing? If so, what will be the result in our case? Fear will tie our hands if we allow it; it will make us a profitless servant.
"I don't know how" is a third barrier. Have you hidden from duty behind this wall? Is this your answer to God when he tells you to do something? The Bible says that, "Christ Is made unto us wisdom." Again, it says, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." If God gives you a task to perform, he'll give you the wisdom to do it as he wishes to have it done. Possibly you don't know how, but God knows, and if you try, understanding will be given you. If you seek wisdom from him, he'll not fail to give it. If we always knew how to do things, we shouldn't need God's help to show us; but as it is, we must often dare to undertake what he wants us to do in his wisdom and in his strength, no matter whether we can see the outcome or not. God wants us to rely on him, and to go ahead in his strength.
"I'm not sure" is another barrier. It's well to know God's will definitely, but many times people want to be so very sure that God has no way of making them feel sure. They don't take the assurance that he gives; they want something more. Reason and good judgment tell them to go ahead, but they build up the barrier "I'm not sure," and hide from duty behind it. We ought not to decide hastily or rashly, but we ought to decide, and then act upon our decision. One may cultivate the habit of indecision until his usefulness is greatly hindered, and he's constantly tortured wondering what he ought to do. It would be better to make a few mistakes than to let indecision hold us back from everything.
"They'll think" is still another self-made barrier. The fear of being misunderstood or having remarks made about them is some people's greatest hindrance. "They will think that, and so fear of what people will say closes the mouth and ties the hands, rendering life fruitless. The thing that ought to concern us is, "What will God think if we don't do it?" It's to him we must give account. It's his approval we should seek. If he approves, what others think is a small matter. Aren't we willing to be misunderstood for Jesus' sake?
Let's cease to build these barriers before us. Let's throw down what we've built. Let's decide we'll not be held back from duty by our fears. Let's go forward in the strength that God will give. Let's trust more in God, and be confident that he won't fail us. Haven't you read that the "Man of God" was to be thoroughly furnished unto every good work? If we'd pay more heed to getting our furnishings than we do to our fears, we might become far more fruitful. Thus, we'd be more happy here and reap a greater reward hereafter.