Isaiah 55-57, Psalm 119:129-152
Corrie Ten Boom said, "Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open." Most choose to live godless lives, and even those who claim to follow God spend so much of their time, energy, and prayers on godless and idle things. Chuck Colson was known as "Nixon's hatchet man" during the Nixon administration and the Watergate crisis. So full of the world and his personal mission that he wrote a personal memo in 1972 saying, "I would walk over my Grandmother for Richard Nixon". Concerning his walk with God, he considered himself "a nominal Episcopalian", but when asked about religion, he said, "Oh, I think religion is fine, provided one has as little of it as possible." I'm sure if he had a prayer life it would have centered on one secular request after another. Just before his time in prison for the Watergate affair he was led to Christ by a man who shared with him some parts of C.S. Lewis' book, "Mere Christianity". While in prison, he learned many lessons in humility: he did not receive a presidential pardon to lessen his sentence, he was disbarred from practicing law, his father died, his son was arrested for narcotics possession. I'm sure in prison he prayed fervently for each of these things to not occur. Through the process, God was refining this man into the man of God that he was to become. He eventually wrote a worldwide best-seller titled, "Born Again" and began his ministry, Prison Fellowship.
We read in Isaiah 55:2-3, "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you-The sure mercies of David." We spend so much of our time, money, energy, and prayers on earthly things that will never satisfy instead of on the only thing which truly matters, a meaningful relationship with God. In 55:6-7, we read, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." We think we know what we need for happiness: the right spouse, the right job, the right house, the right income, the right vacation, the right friends, the right children, etc. When these things that "we need" don't come through, how often do we begin questioning God's fairness or goodness, as though we know better than Him. How often do we treat God like a genie in a bottle rather than the All-knowing God that He is. How often we forget God's Word to Isaiah in 55:8-9, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."
The honest truth is, just like a little child who doesn't understand why he can't eat only chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we don't really know what we need, but God does. When God seemingly doesn't answer our prayers, He knows better. Often our prayers don't allign with His will for our lives. When our will and God's will are not the same, we should pray for God's will over our own, even if the results cause temporary discomfort and disappointment. Even those of us in Christ spend so much time concerning ourselves with unimportant things. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, "But I say to you that every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." It's our choice for those of us in Christ, we can either make the adjustments on this side of eternity or it will be done for us on the other side, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:11-13, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is." We spend and waste so much time on this earth praying for and accumulating wood, hay, and straw. When God all along is trying to give us gold, silver and precious stones, but we often refuse them thinking that we know better. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" May we strive for those things which are eternal and glorify Him and His kingdom.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: