There comes a confrontation with God when we know His will by His written word or by revelation, but we don't want to.
We don't lose our own will as human beings and Christians. We are not robots, and even the holiest of us can be tempted to chafe and buck, even at the will of God: "Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." Psalm32,9
I'm preaching "I don't want to Lord-but I surrender" today. It's not easy to admit to ourselves but there are often times in our Christian walk when we don't want to do what we already know is God's will. This happens regarding the biggest matters of our lives like where to live, what to do with our life, and whom to marry, to such simple things as returning emails and saying "thank you."
In any walk of life and at any age there is the temptation only to do the things we want to do. But if we're only doing the things we want, this doesn't leave God's will much sway over us.
But we'll look on the bright side, "but I don't want to?" is way better than "no" when it comes to God's will.
"Deus vult" is the old school Latin term for "God wills it."
Over a lifetime we might make two or three major decisions that God wills by the sheer force and the fact of His will. But there are hundreds and thousands of decisions in life, untold opportunities to say and think "but I don't want to?"
Kids say this to parents all the time, and good parents develop some really effective answers.
What parent wouldn't have answer to this most important questions "but I don't want to?" Better to keep our children talking than running away from us.
Likewise as God's children, better we keep asking and confronting God than running away from Him. Sometimes it takes this "but I don't want to?" confrontation to get us to the point of decision and direction with God.
Abraham First In Long Line Of Balky Faith Leaders
At Genesis12 God promises Abraham a seven fold blessing if he will leave his father's house for a "country which I shall show you. 2 and I shall make you a great nation, I shall bless you and make your name famous, you are to be a blessing! 3 I shall bless those who bless you and make your name famous; you are to be a blessing! 4 I shall bless those who bless you, and shall curse those curse you, and all clans on earth will bless themselves by you."
This is arguably the most important blessing in the whole bible. A promise that only God could make and keep, and yet just a little later in his life Abraham ends up half bargaining half complaining, confronting God, just like a kid would with a parent, sort of saying "but I don't want to?"
Genesis15,2 "Lord Yahweh, Abraham replied, 'what use are your gifts [which we just read, Genesis12,1ff] as I am going to die childless. 3 Since you have given me no offspring,' Abram continued, 'a member of my household [a slave] will be my heir.' "
Abraham is saying "God I know your will and promises for me, but I don't really want all that unless you give me what I want."
Have you got to this point with God?
Or, perhaps it's still unconcious. Oswald Chambers wrote "The deadiliest Pharasaism today is not hypocrisy, but unconcious unreality." ("My Utmost For His Highest," Barbour, 1963, "The Master Assizes" p. 55) http://www.zionpentecostmission.com/conscious-and-unconscious-planks.html
Whether our "but I don't want to until you give me what I want" attitude is concious or not, I think many of us, if we're honest, would admit that we've been to this point with God.
This is one of those "cuidado" moments, "be careful" moments. We don't want to go too far. This is a time to let God steady us and to choose our words wisely. We don't want to be ungrateful to or get angry at God, or run away from Him.
Genesis15,4 "Then Yahweh's word came to him in reply, 'Such a one will not be your heir; no your heir will be the issue of your own body.' 5 Then taking him outside, he said, 'Look up the sky and count the stars if you can. Just so will your descendants be,' he told him. 6 Abram put his faith in Yahweh and this was reckoned to him as uprightness."
There's a difference between pouring our hearts out to God, with a little bargaining and a little confrontation about an issue in our life, like Abraham did, with complaining and getting sore at God. When we pour our hearts out to God God knows whether we're keeping our relationship going with Him, or distancing ourselves and getting mad at him.
When we confront God often we are asking a question and hoping to get an answer. Psalm18,6: "I called to Yahweh in my anguish, I cried for help to my God; from his Temple [His holy place] he heard my voice, my cry came to his ears."
Just like a mother or father knows if a two or three year old's cry is a passing tantrum, to be ignored, or a real need.
We are just human beings- the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak. There are moments when even the best faithers get balky. But we take note- Abraham was still gladly heard by God and glad that he got a personal response.
God always returns phone calls, so to speak.
"Call him up. Call him up! Tell him what you want." That's what the song says. Even when we don't really want to do what He is asking.
We call Him up but sometimes we're too impatient to wait for the answer.
Beloved, and I'm preaching to myself, if we know enough to confront him with our petitions and to pour out our hearts, why don't we know enough to wait for our answer? "Ask and you shall receive." Every time.
God is always speaking, but do we have the faith and patience to get the answer. I don't want to get off topic, but the best example the Lord gave me for hearing back from Him is this. "Tell God you love him." Pour your heart out. Now do that every night, in the calm of bedtime, do that for a week. Sounds too simple, and then listen. You'll get your answer! You'll meet your living God, your living Jesus.
We have to walk the faith line long enough, with patience enough, to hear back. Hearing back is way important, because when we actually hear back and then actually hear God's will in a situation, we can still say "but I don't want to" but there's nothing more comforting than to hear his voice. Hearing his voice, getting the revelation, might not always give us the answer we like, but we've heard from Him!
And because we've heard from Him, we can keep pressing into his will even when we don't want to!
His voice, his Spirit, his word work on us. The power of His word ("in the begining was the Word and the word was was with God and was God" John1,1) and can bring our "but I don't want to" to "Not my will but yours be done."
If He says something, He's also promising something, to help and empower, to be with us as we obey Him. His word is not idle. It does not return to him void. It can and will effect its and His purposes. When He says "do this and not that," there's power and life and creativity in those words, Psalm33,6: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all their array."
Any time he speaks, there's power and life.
Psalm29,3-5: "Yahweh's voice over the waters, the God of glory thunders; Yahweh over countless waters; 4 Yahweh's voice in power, Yahweh's voice in splendour; 5 Yahweh's voice shatters cedars, Yahweh shatters cedars of Lebabon."
The Lord's voice is his will, and his voice and will can shatter the mightiest trees in the world. You see what kind of hard work it is to take down a big tree. It might take a full crew two days to take down a big tree. God all by Himself, His voice, can do it in a moment. Now some of us can be a little wooden, like a big tree, a little "rigid", sort of inflexible, saying "but I don't want to?"
But God's voice, His manifested will, with even a mustard sized faith, can shatter our woodenness, and change "but I don't want to" to "Yes and Amen."
Now you are probably thinking that only the minor characters of the bible had this difficulty. But in fact it's just the opposite. The very stars of the bible prove this point. This balky attitude happens to everyone at some point or another. The difference between the minor characters of the bible and the stars is nothing more than some folks continue to press on in faith when others don't.
Abraham was pressing on in. He was in anguish, but he knows where the blessing of offspring comes from, from God Himself. He gives God the respect He deserves as creator and author of life when he says "you have given me no offspring." There's a lot condensed in this statement. At once it's sort of an accusation, but also a humble acknowledgment of fact, God is the author of life, and a petition all in one. There's some faith in it too.
That there was faith in it is what matters to God, as Jesus said "when I come back, will I find any faith at all?"
Moses Didn't Want To Lead- Pick Somebody, Anybody Else
There are many other examples of God's most gifted and faithful being at the point of "I know your will, but I don't want to!"
Moses had five excuses for not answering the call of God to lead the people of Israel. (I got a little help on this from access-Jesus.com/moses-excuses.html) The first four excuses add up to the fifth- he didn't want to.
1. I am not qualified: Exodus 3,11: "Who am I to go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt."
2. I'm not smart enough, I don't even know your name: Exodus3,13: "Look, if I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they say to me to me 'What is his name? What am I to tell them.' "
3. I don't think I have the power for them to listen to me: Exodus4,1: "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my words, and say to me, 'Yahweh has not appeared to you?"
4. How could this be my calling- I don't speak well. Exodus4,10: "Please my Lord, I have never been eloquent, even since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow and hesitant of speech."
5. And this sums them all up- I don't want to do it. " 'Please, my Lord,' "send anyone you decide to send' " That is, send anyone else but me, "I don't want to."
Moses made excuses, but the words of Lord the still worked on him.
Moreover, the Lord had a response for each one of his excuses. And God made a way. Aaron was given to be his mouthpiece. And Moses would have his trusty staff (v.17), his baston to do the miracle and signs. That is, he would have the very presence of the Lord, if only he had some measure of active and obedient faith.
So at Exodus 4,18 Moses goes to his father-in-law and asks to take leave, and is given his father in law's blessing. He went from "but I don't want to- to I surrender." That's how powerful the prophetic and personal call and words of the Lord are to each of us.
But just a little later in Moses' life at the point of his greatest miracle, parting the Red Sea, with the Egyptians in pursuit, Exodus 14, Moses is praying, but the Lord wants immediate action. His will isn't matched up with God's again. He wants to pray and the Lord wants him to raise his staff. So the Lord says " 'Why cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to march on. 16 Your part is to raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.' "
Let's be fair to Moses, it takes tremendous spiritual strength to raise our hand and pray for the deliverance of God's people. This is a mighty act of leadership. Would you want that responsibility? It's hard enough in our own families or at work or in church, to take that leadership and intercessory responsibility.
And when we raise our hands, in some way, we know that responsibility is coming. And Exodus17 suggests that it does not always get easier after we accept leadership responsibility. This responsibility often grows in our service to the Lord. After the repsonsibility of leaving and raising his staff to part the sea, came the responsibility of facing the Amalekites who attacked Israel at Rephidim as the people moved north.
As long as Moses can keep his staff raised in this battle, his arms up, as long as he can do the will of God, the Israelites have the advantage. But he got so tired, he had to sit, with Aaron and Hur supporting his arms. He needed help, just like he needed the help later with seventy judges, just like Elijah needed help, just like you and I sometimes need help.
When we get balky about the Lord's will sometimes it's just because we get too tired, spiritually or physcially, and when this happens it's best to surround ourselves with those who can help us do God's will. And it's His will that they help us.
There are also times when we want God to do everything for us, the whole miracle, so fast, within one day, before our arms get tired, but God's will is merely to do our part at any given time.
Even if we don't want to.
As for Moses parting the Red Sea, he eventually got it right: "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh drove the sea back with a strong easterly wind all night and made the sea into dry land." Exodus14,21.
Jonah Flees From God's Will By Sea
Jonah is one of the so called minor prophets. He is the most famous bible character for knowing the word of God and not wanting to do it.
Jonah is sent to Nineveh, to Syria, to the enemies of Israel, Jonah1,2-3: " 'Up!' he said, 'God to Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim to them that their wickedness has forced itself on me' 3 Jonah set about running away from Yahweh, to Tarshish. He went down to Jaffa and found a ship bound for Tarshish, to get away from Yahweh."
Well with God we can run but we can't hide. He's testing Jonah's obedience by challenging him to preach repentance to Israel's enemies. There's no more loving act than preaching repentance to one's enemies. We have so much going on in the world between the so called Christian West and Muslim East, but who among us is praying and preaching the gospel to the East? Jonah shows us God wants us to preach to everybody.
This is what Jonah was asked to do, and he's not happy about.
The fact is he doesn't want the Syrians to repent, and he also doesn't want to go, so jumps onto a merchant ship to sail away from God's will. But even the pagans on the ship know his disobedience is the reason their boat is threatened with breaking up. So to calm the seas they throw him overboard, and he gets swallowed up in the belly of a whale, and under this stress he repents.
A lot of people repent when they need a loan, or are in jail, or going through a tragedy, but their "but I don't want to?' attitude returns. Anyway, God takes Jonah at his word and speaks to the fish which spits Jonah up on dry land whereupon God tells him a second time to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah agrees to go, Jonah2,4, preaching repentance, but he's hoping that the city will be overthrown by God, rather than repentant.
Chapter 3 describes this is truly odd situation. Jonah is sad because they heeded his preaching and repented. Here's the first preacher in all history that got mad that folks did what he told them to do!
This story serves as a parable that teaches Israel that God cares for all peoples and nations.
Jonah4,1: "This made Jonah very indignant; he fell into a rage." He wants to end his life because he has made a fool of himself, to himself, thinking he was God and judge, thinking he would be a conquistator after Nineveh was felled by God, presuming that God's will wouldn't work.
We're often like Jonah, we ourselves enjoy God's grace, his shade plant, and we think God would never take it away from us and give it to someone else, or some other nation: "Yahweh God then ordained that a castor-oil plant should grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head and soothe his ill humour. .... 7 But at dawn the next day, God ordained that a worm should attack the castor oil plant and it withered."
The book ends simply with the Lord correcting Jonah's "but I don't want to attitude" toward foreigners.
Jonah did the will of God, but he never surrendered to it. The Book of Jonah says this is not enough. Our surrender to God's will must engage some degree of our faith, some degree of our agreement with God's will, some true repenatance, or the grace of salvation will die in us. The shade tree of grace withered in Jonah's life.
The story of Jonah tells us there is a limit to God's favor on those who will not change their attiitudes toward the Spirit of God's will. When Jonah saw the totally unschooled people of Nineveh repent, he failed to realize that it was also time for him to repent for his "but I don't want to" view of God's mercy.
Job Surrenders To The Fact That God Knows Best
Job, is another one of God's great servants. He also presents an example of not really accepting God's will that he suffer and be tested. But he finally does surrender to it.
Job loses all his possessions, and then his health. And God allows Satan to do this, save taking his life. His wife wants him to forget his integrity. Job longs for death Job3,20-26. His friends misunderstand and think he has done wrong and is being punished by God. He pleads with God to tell him what he has done wrong, Chapter10. His friends next think perhaps he lacks wisdom, and at Chapter 32, that he's presumptuous in sticking to his own righteousness. Then his friends philosophize about his suffering and the ways of God.
Pity Job when you are on the cross or sick in the hospital do you want to hear your 'friend" philosophizing willy nilly as to why?
But Job himself has also been too fond of his own questions before God.
Well God starts asking questions of him at Job38,4. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations? And at 40,2ff he asked Job if he thinks he knows better than Him:
"Is it for a man who disputes with the almighty to be stubborn? Should he who argues with God answer back? 3 Job answered the Lord: 4 'What reply can I give you, I who carry no weight?' I put my finger to my lips. 5 I have spoken once; I shall not answer again; twice I have spoken; I shall do so no more. 6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the tempest:7 Brace yourself and stand up like a man; I shall put questions to you, and you must answer. 8 Would you dare deny that I am just, or put me in the wrong to prove yourself right?"
Old Job now really feels ripped to shreds. He has lost his possessions, his health, his wife's attention. He's been cross examined by his friends as if he's an evil doer, and suffered their philosphical blatherings. And now even God has found fault with him for taking issue with God's allowing an innocent man to suffer.
Then at Job40,14 God asks him if he really wants to play God, and put God at fault for his woes, and save himself, if he can.
We Christians can have mercy on Job, because the prevailing Hebrew Scripture way of looking at things was that he must be suffering because he has sinned. He must be suffering the punishment of God. That the basic teahcing of the Hebrew scriptures.
Now Job has come through his ordeal by withstanding the suffering, with as stiff an upper lip as possible, but he hasn't surrendered to it yet. He's put up with it. There's a difference between a righteous man putting up with suffering, and surrendering to it for some higher purpose that only God knows about.
By Chapter 42, after Job has been face to face with God for some time, then and only then does Job confess that God's ways are beyond him. He has been in the presence of his voice for some time. We note this fact well, because it suggests that time in the presence of the Lord means His powerful attitude changing will is working on Job and will work on any of us, no matter how stubborn or prideful. Job doesn't understand why he is sufffering yet. But he's at the point of surrendering to it, of perhaps understanding that in some way it could be God's will. But, let's be clear, he still doesn't want that suffering- who would?
"Job answered the Lord." 2 I know you can do all things and that no purpose is beyond you. 3 You ask: who is that obscuring counsel yet lacking knowledge [Job talking too much]. But I have spoken of things which I have not understood, things too wonderful for me t. 4 You said 'Listen and let me speak. I will question you; and you shall answer me.' 5 I knew of you only by report, but now I see you with my own eyes. 6 Therefore I yield, repenting in dust and ashes."
Now God has Job right where he wants him, right where he wants you and me, surrendered. It's ok for us not to know everything, and then accept that God is in control. We're not in control. God is in control (and He's not a control freak either).
Then God corrects Job's friends for not having spoken correctly about Job. They thought he was a sinner and presumptuous. The friends are ordered at v. 8 to take seven bullocks to Job who will offer a burnt offering with them for His friends as Job prays for them. Job's sacrifice will brings his freinds back to good graces of God.
Do you think Job wanted to pray for his so called "friends?" They had emotionally and spiritually abandoned him in all their philiosophizing and accusatory nosiness. I'm thinking old Job might have just been happy to say "you were wrong about me- and God just corrected you." And then have nothing more to do with them.
But he didn't.
Because once Job surrendered to the suffering, even when he didn't want to do, God put him to work, the important work of interceding for his friends, to bring them also back into the good graces of God. Did he want to do this for his friends? I'm thinking not really. But after his repentance, he was gratified to hear God's will, God's will that was putting him to work on behalf of others.
It's all here in V10: "And Yahweh restored Job's condition, while Job was interceding for his friends. More than that Yahweh gave him double what he had before." While Job was doing God's will, which it is not likely what he wanted to do, Job was restored to health and prosperity. (cf Oswald Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest" Harbor, 1963)
Jeremiah Says "No Mas"
The prophet Jeremiah also had his time of "no mas," His "but I don't want to?" speech at Jeremiah20,7-9 is classic:
"You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowerd me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they all make fun of me. 8 For whenever I speak, I have to howl and proclaim, 'Violence and ruin!' For me Yahweh's word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long. 9 I would say to myself, 'I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more..' "
Every prophet has to say hard things, in Jeremiah's life this was that 'violence and ruin" are coming upon the Temple and the priesthood. These hard words were fulfilled in 586BC when Babylon destroyed the Temple and carried off Judah into exile. Jeremiah is saying here in verse 9 he doesn't want to do it anymore. God's hard words are the cause of Jeremiah being hated and mocked, and thrown into an empty cistern. He was saying "no mas. I'm going to take it easy. I'm going to preach pumpkin parties, and butterfly kisses, and infant baptisms."
But the second half of verse 9 he surrenders to God's will, Deus vult: "but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisioned in my bones. The efforts to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it."
He's confronting God, and surrendering to God at the same time.
My firends it's time for us, who claim to serve God, and to be a temple of God, to agree with Jeremiah we can not restrain the fire of God's will imprisoned in our bones. It's time to surrender to his will.
But first, we must not be afraid to tell our Lord and get past the point of "but I don't want to?"
When we confront God and oursleves in this way, at least we've come out of our unconciousness of his will.
At least we're unloading to the right person.
At least we're at our first step toward surrender.
It Is God's Will That All Men Surrender To His Will
My friends when we know God's will, it is as God's voice, living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword.
God's will has within it the very power to compel us to carry out all He asks. He will not give us more than we can bear. Yes, we may confront that will and the strong and mighty Jesus who stands behind it, like Abraham, and Job and Jeremiah and Jonah, and Jesus, but the blessing point is our surrender to it.
Yes His will is sometimes scary and weighty and exhausting. Remember Daniel falling on his face, fainting at the weight of the word (Daniel 8 and 10). When John The Revelator, on Patmos in prison, hears the loud voice of the Lord telling him to write down all that he sees and has the vision of Lord, he fell at His feet "as though dead." (Revelation 1,17) The prophets Daniel and John both dead with fear, falling under the weight and exhaustion of God's will, but that same will also lifts up all who fall upon its very weight.
We remember Jesus in the garden, knowing that His Father's will meant crucifiction.
He said "Let this cup pass from me"
His "But Father I don't want to?"
"But not my will but yours be done."
"But I surrender."
I surrender for my people Israel, for all humanity, those near and far.
Because the Father willed that He surrender. Not to the pagan cross, but to his father's will He laid his life down.
When Jesus surrendered we got eternal life.
So when we say or think "But I don't want to?" in the face of the Lord's will, there's the example of Jesus or Jonah.
We're picking Jesus, because Jonah had no cover, no shade, and tried to build himself a shelter, (4,5) just sitting in his own merciless humanity, no one to lift him up.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...