“Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way!” – BUT Whose Will?

SCRIPTURE:  Luke 22:39-46

“…not my will, but yours, be done.”  (v. 42)

To find out what is the will of God and to do it whole-heartedly I want to begin this study with one of my favorite musicals put on film, one that most people are familiar with – The Sound Of Music.

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?”

How do you solve the problem?  The answer is easy – you make her someone else’s problem!  (Captain Von Trapp).

Here’s a girl who’s always getting herself in trouble!  She’s always off doing her own thing!  She doesn’t conform, she doesn’t follow the rules – but she desperately wants to!

Maria was a square peg in a round hole….she wasn’t where she was meant to be, doing what she was meant to do.  Does any of this sound familiar?

On a spiritual level, do you sometimes feel that you’re off “doing your own thing”–not really doing what you’re meant to be doing?  Do you sometimes think that you are trying as hard as you can to be holy; you’re trying your best to do all that is expected of a good Christian–but you never quite seem to make it?   How many times have I personally been in these instances and looked up and yelled:

“HELP ME! Give me solace, Lord!”

Spiritually speaking, perhaps you find yourself as a square peg in a round hole and ask yourself are you where you are meant to be?  Are you doing what you were meant to do?

After watching the movie clips. the Reverend-Mother asked Maria a very significant question,  “What is the most important lesson you have learned here…”  Maria’s response was very profound I thought,  “To find out what is the will of God and to do it whole-heartedly.”  If someone asked me what one lesson have I learned in life I would have to say I have learned “to seek out God’s will and then do it gladly–even if I don’t want to do it!”

In the scripture referenced you can read a moment in the life of Christ about His Father’s WILL and His own WILL where they seem to be at odds with each other.

To put this in context, Jesus was fully aware of His impending death.  He had just spent time in the upper room celebrating the Last Supper with His disciples, preparing them for what was going to happen.

Jesus had now taken them to the Mount of Olives to pray.

The text tells us that this was a regular thing for them to do–but on this particular night, there seems to be a particular tension among them.

For the disciples, the Last Supper had just been a confusing and emotional time.  Jesus had been talking about feeding them with His body and blood, there had been a fight over who was the most important disciple, and Jesus had scolded Peter for asking about the restoration of the nation–and even gone on to tell that Peter would be about even knowing Him–the Peter who Jesus would build His Church upon.  And just before the disciples had left to go to the Mount of Olives, Jesus told them to arm themselves with swords!!!

On the Mount of Olives Jesus commanded them to PRAY–

But the poor exhaustive disciples, like Maria in the Sound of Music, didn’t live up to what was expected of them.

They tried to be “good Christians,” they tried to pray, but sleep got the better of them.

For Jesus, the stress of the situation was obvious, in sweating buckets.  I can almost hear the anguish in His voice as He prays,  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”

Jesus wanted one thing, but His Father wanted another…

At this moment Jesus wanted to be spared the physical pain and agony, the ridicule and embarrassment, the provocation and aggravation that was to come–God wanted Him to go through it–so the rest of the world could be reconciled to Himself.

Jesus wanted to be spared the defilement of taking on the sins of the world–BUT this was God’s WILL for Him–

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”  (NIV).

And now God’s GRACE…

Those poor disciples!!!  The loved Jesus with all their hearts.  They wanted to please Him, wanted to follow Him–and they did so earnestly.  They wanted to obey Him and live out His leading, even if they didn’t always get it right.  We probably could say that their “hearts were in the right place,”  for they faithfully followed Jesus, even though His teachings didn’t always make sense.  The faithful followed Him, even when they messed up–and when they messed up, they tried hard not to make the same mistake twice.

As for Jesus, He was the dutiful Son!

He knew that His Father knows best.

He knew that His Father’s WILL superseded His own will.

Jesus knew that He had a choice to make–He could follow His own instinct for self-preservation and have the whole purpose of His mission fail, or…

He could submit to His Father’s WILL and believe that “all things work together for good…”  (Romans 8:28)

The dutiful Son loved His Father –

He trusted His Father, He knew that His Father would work everything out for the best.

Jesus was willing to PRAY, “Father, I don’t want to do what you are asking me to do–but I’ll do it anyway if you really want me to!”

How much LOVE, how much TRUST do you need to have in someone before you can say that to them?  I had to think about that for a moment–think how much He loved me to be willing to die for me, for us!  How much He trusted His Father’s will–to be obedient unto death!

Surely Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus was willing to do God’s WILL before His very own…

JUDGMENT in the World –

Ask yourself, Am I like Maria?  Are you like the disciples?

Maybe you’re struggling within the basics of Christian living–perhaps you just can’t stick to this praying and Bible reading every day– “I just can’t seem to find time in my busy life; getting the kids ready in the mornings, keeping the house straight, fixing meals and then doing it all over again each and every day!”

Maybe your struggle is with THE CALLING–maybe you have sensed God calling you out to a particular task, but you don’t want to do that!!!

Given that my calling is teaching, I’m thinking specifically of a call to teach–but there are many other calls and vocations from God too.  Whatever our struggle may be, we must “…find out what is the WILL of God and to do it wholeheartedly.”

GRACE in the World –

The GOOD NEWS is that we can know the WILL of God for us, and the Bible tells us how…

Romans 12:1-2 says,

So the KEY is to present ourselves as living sacrifices–a SACRIFICE is simply something that has been offered.  Something that has been given to God.

Have you given your life over to God…completely?  Isn’t that the first step to take as you seek to discover God’s WILL for your life?

The next step is to… “not conform to the pattern of this world”–we are to be TRANSFORMED by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

“I DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”

Len Ballentine’s chorus says,

I dare to be different, I dare to believe;

I dare to be different, God’s Spirit receives.

I dare to be different, my life sacrificed;

I dare to be different by living like Christ.

Do I “dare to be different”?

Do you “dare to be different”?

Do you dare to SACRIFICE your life to live like Jesus?

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he tells us that only by offering ourselves–that being available and living a life that’s different from the world around us, that we actually gain the ability to discern what God’s perfect will is for us.

There’s an old cliché that says, God doesn’t look at our ability, rather He looks at our availability.

HOW AVAILABLE ARE YOU?

IS THE LORD THE LORD OF YOUR LIFE?

IS HE THE KING OF YOUR VERY BEING?

My prayer for you is found in the chorus of one of my favorite Praise songs, Reign In Me:

When we sing the words we are surrendering, we are sacrificing ourselves to God.  We are making ourselves available to Him.  We are yielding to His will.

How about you?  Are you willing to make that sacrifice, making yourself available for Him to use you in any situation?

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CREDITS:

PHOTO IMAGES:  Google Image Search

Music Videos:  YouTube.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); or where noted in the photo/images, or in the text.

 

Every WEB Begins with a Single Thread – (Part 1 of 2)

TEXT:  1 Corinthians 10:13:

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].  But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature],  and He [can be trusted] not to let you be TEMPTED and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [ALWAYS] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing-place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.  (AMPLIFIED BIBLE)

The WEB of TEMPTATION
TEMPTATION’S WEB

“Why Spiders Decorate Their Webs”

Stabillmentum (singular):  The word means, “a single zigzag line or combinations of lines or even a spiral whorl in the web’s center.”

But why do spiders decorate their webs?  Well, I am certainly not an ARACHNOLOGIST (an expert on spiders), but in my detective investigation, I found that there are multi-purposes for the Spider’s Web and they begin with a single strand:

1.  STABILITY.

2.  VISIBILITY.

3.  CAMOUFLAGE.

4.  PREY ATTRACTION.

5.  MATING.

Are you beginning to see where I’m going in the Spider Web analogy of temptation?  The WEB of Temptation that lies in front of each one of us: It is often camouflaged; sometimes attractive because of the light being reflected off the “stabillmentum”; even the opposite sex being a distraction of what can’t be seen at the moment of the attraction.  Hey, it happened to King David, to Sampson and others in the Bible.  The “spider” is always waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A TRIAL AND TEMPTATION: 

A TRIAL is different and can be sent from God in order to deepen your walk with Him or to bring about God’s plan for your life.

A TEMPTATION is never directed by God, for rather its purpose is destructive.  It is not a sin itself, for JESUS was tempted in the wilderness.

TEMPTATION can make us stronger if…successfully overcoming it.

Facts About TEMPTATION:

FIRST of all, it’s going to happen!

Luke 17:1-2:

“AND [Jesus} said to His disciples…”

Hold it right there for a moment.  Jesus is addressing ALL of His disciples, His followers…He is talking to BELIEVERS in the 21st Century.

“Temptations  (snares, traps set to entice sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!”

[Verse 2] “It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into a sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones [lowly in rank or influence]”  (Amplified Bible).

THE WARNING:

The warning comes to those who become a stumbling block to someone else.  Rather than being a stumbling block, we need to seek to build up–restore the one who has stumbled.

“BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin in any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit]  should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also”  (Galatians 6:1 AMP).

TEMPTATION Comes from Within–

I was watching a news segment on the NBC’s TODAY Show last week regarding the idea of legalizing DRUGS and PROSTITUTION in America.  America seems to have the mindset, as many other countries in the world, that if you can’t defeat something…LEGALIZE IT!

Temptation comes from within, from the devil, from the worldview that the devil promotes sinful people to accept.

It is never directed by God  (James 1:13)–

“Let no one say when he is TEMPTED,  I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.”

God is never effected by sin and doesn’t make any decisions effected by sin because of His character…WHO HE IS!  He is totally pure and Holy!

TEMPTATION is an individual matter–

“But every person is tempted when…” [ Here is where that “spider web” comes into play].  “he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)”  (James 1:14).

Billy Graham has said, “None of us should deliberately place ourselves in a position to be tempted.”  Satan will always attack where we are the most vulnerable.

He goes on to say, “But each one of us is TEMPTED when by his own evil desire, is dragged away and enticed…”  Was Mr. Graham seeing the same Spider Web as I?  Perhaps.

Temptation will always follow the same pattern– 

A thought enters the web and we pamper it….it germinates and grows into an evil act…and that’s where the devil has a pattern of attack.

TRUTHS of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1.  Our TEMPTATIONS are not unique.

“For no temptation, has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man…”  (v. 13).

2.  There is a way to stand up to and over temptation–

“Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun  (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry  (of loving or venerating anything more than God)”  (verse 14).

3.  GOD KNOWS my limits.  He is not unaware of my situation!

John MacArthur tells a story of a friend of his that I think illustrates this point:

A friend of mine told me one time, that he had taken a new job, with a very important company–he was very excited about it.  He had only been on the job for a little while.  Everyone had left the office one night and on his desk someone had left a HUGE sum of money.  He immediately took the money, put it in his briefcase, and thought I am going to have to return this.  He wrapped it up the next morning and brought it back and when he came to work he immediately walked into the bosses’ office and put the money down on the desk and said,  “Somehow, someone left this money on my desk and I don’t know who it was or who will be missing it, but I wanted to turn it in as fast as I could, so no one would be distressed by its absence.”  The boss looked him in the face and said, “I put the money there–it was a TEST–you passed.”

How would you have reacted to the TEMPTATION?  If your answer is,  “That depends…”, then keep reading this blog-post.

We OVERCOME TEMPTATION by:

Looking for a way to avoid the temptation–

In one sense every TRIAL (or TEST) is also a temptation that affords the opportunity to FAIL!

Alexander Maclaren distinguished being TEMPTED  and being TRIED or TESTED like this:

“TEMPTATION says,  ‘Do this pleasant thing, do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’  TRIAL or PROVING says,  ‘Do this right and noble thing, do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful’.

AVOIDING THE “WEB” OF TEMPTATION:

An Old Testament example is found in Genesis 39:12.  Joseph flees from Potiphar’s wife when she wanted to commit adultery.

1.  FLEE FROM THE SITUATION IF POSSIBLE.

Submit Your Thoughts to God  (James 4:7; Philippians 4:8):

We should take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5:

“[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive into the obedience of Christ  (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

MOST OF OUR THOUGHTS could be characterized more as captivating us rather than being captivated.  I need to watch what my mind is dwelling on.  We aren’t so much as seized and we seize the thought.

2.  SUBMIT YOUR WILL TO GOD’S.

Most sin is grounded in selfishness.

We must commit ourselves daily to God according to Romans 12:1-2 and by daily confessions Colossians 3:2:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you;  Taking your every day, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life–and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”  (Romans 12:1-2 The Message Bible).

“And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth”  (Colossians 3:2 AMP).

BREAK  *SEE Part Two for the continuation of the The Differences Between a Trial and Temptation.