Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - If the Lord Wills

Over the past couple of weeks, my family and I have been dealing with a lot of issues that have shaken us to the core. Our faith has been challenged in a major way and it seems that Satan is working overtime with a legion of demons to whisper in our ears that God is not there or listening to us. It is a difficult situation to be in for anyone. When you are up to your eyeballs in problems, it seems that the more you plan; the less things seem to work out.

I often find myself playing life's chess game. I try to plan my moves and think about all of the possible counter moves and how to avoid the pitfalls. I spend an inordinate amount of time planning for all of the possibilities. In those cases, I feel that I am in control of the situation and that I have the best vantage point to see all that is going on in my life. Yes, I have been arrogant enough to believe that I am in total control of the situation and that careful planning would get us out of the situation.

I am here to tell you that I was wrong and that planning without looking to God for guidance and wisdom for the next step is wrong. When you take on your own problems and seek to solve them yourself, you fall into the trap of being arrogant. You will say, "I know how to handle this or that situation." Don't worry. I have said the same thing as well. I, too, believed that I could handle anything and everything without God's will in my life. I would pick and choose which problems I would give to Him and was content with that arrangement. In short, I told God what He was capable of doing and what things He should handle. Just like a project manager assigning a task to a resource, I did the same thing to God.

God soon reminded me that I needed to remember that He is the center of my life. I was soon taught a very valuable lesson through all of the problems that I experienced in my life in just a short period of time. I never thought I would would be in the predicament that I am currently experiencing. I wondered why God had done this to my family and me. I soon learned the lesson of my arrogance in planning without God. The answer rang clearly when I was reading in James. Looking at James 4 starting with verse 14 and reading to verse 17. "13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it."

As I read this passage while in the hospital, it began to minister to my soul and I realized the folly of my ways. I did not say, "If the Lord wants me to, I will live and do as He commands." My failure was that I had pretentious plans and that I knew things would work out. My plans, like the house built on sand, began to fall apart and slip through my fingers. Things that I assumed would be there to help in times of trouble were slipping through my fingers. I truly acted in a sinful way about knowing that I need to depend on the Lord for everything including the wisdom to act as He directs my steps. I may have my plans, but God will direct my steps. Let us look at Proverbs 16:9. "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." It is the Lord who guides our steps. Our plans should always include God's will and desire for us. This is very difficult for a lot of people including me. 

As I began to fully realize the impact of my decisions and actions in my life, I asked God to forgive me. My prayer was very similar to Jeremiah's. Let us look at Jeremiah 10:23-24. "23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. 24 So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die." I asked that God correct me and give me the strength to remain on His course and not my own. As always, I need to remember that His grace is sufficient for me and that there are no problems that He cannot handle. 

I dropped to my knees in my hospital room and prayed for forgiveness and guidance. My faith is stronger and I have a new perspective on my life. God provided skilled specialists who saved my life and gave me a second chance. I could easily go back to my old ways, but I now realize that my plans without Him are going to end in ruin. I now know better. As James points out in verse 17, "Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." If I go back to my old ways and snatch back control of my life from Him, then I have truly sinned. I know better and need to always remember the words of Christ Jesus when he prayed in the Garden. "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

No matter what happens in your life, God's will must come first. If you are in a similar situation like mine, I encourage you to ask for God's forgiveness and make Him the center of your life. I know that it is difficult to do, but realize that you serve a living, loving God who looks after His children and will not do anything to harm them. God loves you so very much and wants to be the center of your life. Let God be that center for you. Once you do that, you will experience a wonderful gift of peace, a peace so profound in nature that you cannot even understand or imagine it. This peace will calm the waves and restore your soul. 

If you do not have that sort of relationship with the Lord, then you live a life that is full of chaos. God is steadfast and is that rock and salvation that will bring order into your life and that wonderful peace. God is love and He expressed that love by sending His son, Jesus, to die for your sins. Because of that love, you can receive salvation and know that you can stand firm in His grace.

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