Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 11
We talked last time about the process of submitting ourselves to God’s will or being “in the moment” that we have defined as being in harmony with God’s will for our lives. We used the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26 and Luke 22) and noted that it was an extreme example, yet one in which Jesus passed with flying colors, as difficult as it was for Him.
The tricky part of the equation for us is learning to set our wants aside in exchange for God’s. As noted previously, this process can be easy or difficult depending upon the situation and the person. Nonetheless, entering into fellowship with God is accomplished when we accept His will for our life. We also noted that once Jesus fully responded to the temptation to do His own thing by willfully agreeing to the Father’s will, He gained a measure of peace and experienced a strengthening from the angel who ministered to Him (Luke 22:43-44). This must have been an exceedingly trying time for Jesus, one that we cannot fully appreciate, I’m sure.
It is simply not easy to walk in the light as He is in the light 100% of the time, day in, day out. It is our sin nature that keeps us from doing that, yet we are culpable. We have a responsibility to resist temptation, to flee from evil, to say “no” to the devil and “yes” to God and that can be extremely difficult for each and every Christian.
Imagine waking up irritable because of an immune disorder from which you suffer. Does God want you to be irritable? That’s not really the question, is it? The actual question is how does God want you to respond to life and others in spite of your irritability? Is it okay to unleash your irritability on innocent people? Clearly, it’s not. Under such circumstances, the natural thing is to pray for release. We don’t want to have to deal with any type of deficiency or illness that creates within us an irritability that we feel we are unable to control, so the natural impulse is to ask God to remove it.
Should we do that? I think it is perfectly okay to ask God to remove such a malady, but can we demand such a release? Everything I’ve read in Scripture tells me that no, we cannot. What then does God expect from us for those who find themselves in situations like this? He expects us to give it over to Him, to trust in His guidance and strength, and I believe He expects us to submit ourselves to Him so that He can help us from within by strengthening us so that we do not take out our irritability and frustration on others, especially those whom we love.
There are things we have to deal with in this life, things that are not pleasant. How we deal with those things is the true mark of our faith in Christ. We note how in Gethsemane, the Father did not remove the cup from Jesus’ future – whatever that cup happened to be. What the Father did provide was a way for Jesus to bear up under the intense pressure associated with whatever that particular cup was for Him.
I know people – and I’m sure you do as well – who suffer from physical illnesses and maladies that has made their lives miserable. For whatever reason, God has not seen fit to provide relief to them. Some people respond to that with intense anger. Others come to a point of giving it to God, trusting Him. The former is so easy, isn’t it? It’s our natural tendency, while the latter can be so incredibly difficult to arrive to.
One of the things I learned a long time ago (and still have yet to do consistently) is to thank God in the midst of these situations. I’ve heard it said that we aren’t to praise God for the specific situation but within the situation. I would disagree, but maybe it’s simply semantics. I think one of the best ways to learn to let go of a situation, giving it to God is by praising Him for it. After all, isn’t this what Paul tells us?
17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit;…(1 Thessalonians 5:17-19)
We should always be talking with God and in that process, we should offer thanks for everything that comes our way. If we do this, we will not quench the Spirit, but the implication is that if we fail to do these things, we will quench the Spirit.
Isn’t this what Job did? Many conservative scholars believe that Job lived during the time of Genesis and that Moses was the author of that book. Poor Job had no clue why he suffered the things he suffered. Moreover, he did not have the Bible (as we have today) to refer to and draw on. Yet, the Bible tells us that Job was righteous.
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil, (Job 1:1).
We aren’t told how Job learned to live a blameless and upright life. He simply lived one, but the clue is found in the fact that he “feared” God, which the Bible tells us is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). When he lost everything he had been given by God, his reply was simple and truthful.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised, (Job 1:21b).
It is clear then that praise goes a long way in helping us let go of the things that God wants us to let go of in order to embrace His will for our lives. When in doubt, praise Him, regardless of how you might feel about a situation. Go against the dictates of your emotions by praising God with a sacrifice of praise.
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name, (Hebrews 13:15).
A sacrifice of praise occurs when we do not feel like praising Him, but we do so anyway. Do you think Job felt like praising God after learning that he had lost everything, including his 10 children? Think again. Job praised God because he knew it was the right thing to do, not because he felt like it. Job’s act of praise (worship) brought him into fellowship with God because Job was essentially admitting that God’s ways were best in spite of his own immediate loss and the way things looked from a human perspective. Job had no idea what had transpired between Satan and God. He could not understand that Satan wanted to destroy him but God knew that would never happen. In spite of his lack of understanding and how devastated he must have been, Job praised God. Can we do any less, especially considering the fact that we are told repeatedly in the Bible (something Job did not have) that we should offer praise to God continually?
When there is nothing else for you to do, offer God praise for a particular situation or event in your life. That seems so diametrically opposed to common sense and logic, doesn’t it? I believe that it is one of the quickest ways to move toward embracing His will for our lives as Christians. It is something we force ourselves to do as we look to Him, the Author and Perfector of our faith, so that His will becomes ours.
I believe that Satan will do whatever he can to keep us from praising. Even as I write this, I am reminded of just how often I fail to praise God in/for all circumstances. I become irritable, frustrated, or something else as my first response to a given situation. If I would only remember to offer praise to Him for a situation, it would become – I believe – easier to conform my will to His.
We didn’t get a chance to discuss “mindfulness” in this article, but we will do so next time, hopefully. Join me then and in the meantime, start remembering to offer praise to Him for His will for your life. Praise will help you overlook circumstances and situations and put your eyes directly on Him, exactly where they are supposed to be.
Praise Him and enter into fellowship with Him.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: hebrews 13:15, praise, praising god for fellowship, sacrifice of praise.