This is a transcript of sermon preached by Timothy Williams.
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God Is God


 

In Matthew 11:7, we look at the life of John the Baptist and deal with today’s problem of everyone wanting something from God. In short, we really don’t want God to be God. We don’t want Him to act as if He is God. We accept Him as long as He really doesn’t act like God. As long as He comes on our terms and responds to what we have in mind, then He’s a Jesus that we will worship. But we will all be tested and tried, every single one of us, just as John the Baptist was tested and tried. We will question this God that we worship as we discover that He’s a very frustrating God. If you don’t find Jesus Christ to be frustrating, if He doesn’t cause you trials, then you are not worshipping the real Jesus. If you try to lay hold of God and don’t find God’s actions frustrating, you do not know the living God. Perhaps you worship a god in a box, or a god that you fashioned in your own image that’s comfortable for you. Even today in our churches, it’s obvious that people don’t worship the living God, because they are totally at peace with the god they worship. They seem to understand him just fine and he acts in their lives so that they are loaded with all kinds of “peace.”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?” (Matthew 11:7)

John the Baptist was a man whom Jesus Christ said was solid in Him. He wasn’t moved back and forth by any doctrines or teachings of men. John wasn’t swayed by his sinful nature. The people didn’t go out to see someone tossed back and forth who didn’t know the direction for his life. They didn’t go out to see someone that questioned, “What is God about? What is the universe about? What is the Trinity and how do all these things relate to me?” They went out to see somebody solid in God.

If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes. No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. (Matthew 11:8)

In terms of denying self and surrender before God, his life was unparalleled. He didn’t live or eat in luxury. He ate grasshoppers and locust.

Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (Matthew 11:9)

John was steadfast. He was a man of self-denial, a man solid in God. Someone about whom you would say, “He would never doubt who Jesus Christ is.” If there was anybody who was surrendered to the living God, it was John the Baptist. That’s who people went out to see. They went out to look at a man who understood exactly who Jesus Christ was, a man who understood what it was to worship and be in love with the living God. We see how he lived, yet if he was tried and tested, how much more will we all be tried and tested?

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Did John the Baptist recognize who Jesus Christ was? Absolutely! He testified, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Look at his solid testimony and ask yourself, “How solid is my testimony?” You may acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your Savior. You may acknowledge that He saves man and tell other people about Him. Yet, if you’ve never reached the place where you ask yourself, “Who is this Jesus Christ whom I worship? Why is He so frustrating, and why is He God?” then you are not worshipping the living God.

“This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” (John 1:30–33)

God told John the Baptist who Jesus Christ was. John the Baptist heard the voice of God come from heaven and say, “This is My son.” Not only did he have an inward conviction about Jesus Christ, but he also had something tangible. He heard the voice of God. He saw the dove. He had every evidence to know Jesus was the Christ. He even told other people about Jesus.

I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God. (John 1:34)

How much more sure can a man be? We haven’t heard God’s voice. We haven’t seen the dove. We were not there. We weren’t born with the single purpose of baptizing Jesus Christ. Yet we know Him to be true.

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. (John 1:35–37)

He pointed other people to Jesus. Again, John the Baptist testified, “This is the living God. This is who you must follow and worship. I was born for one purpose, to simply baptize Jesus and point you to Him. That is the whole reason for my existence.” He was not a reed swayed by the wind, was he? He was a man who knew what he preached, he denied himself and loved the living God. Yet, when John the Baptist was put in prison, he began to doubt, “Is Jesus really the one?” After all he had been through and all he had seen, he began to question who Jesus Christ was.

Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:10–19)

After all he had seen and heard from the living God, after all he understood in terms of Scripture, he still questioned. After all he experienced in answered prayer and all he heard about Jesus Christ raising people from the dead and healing people, doubt still entered his mind. He sent two of his disciples to ask, “Are you the one?” Basically, John wondered, “Have I wasted my life? Did I preach a false gospel? Did I believe the wrong God? What is going on? Are you really the one that we were to expect, or should I be looking for someone else?” What caused John to wonder if what he believed was really true? What caused him to step back and ask, “Is this real Christianity? Is this really what I have been called to live?”

John’s disciples told him about all these things. (Luke 7:18)

They testified to the miraculous power of God and all John could say was: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” If you haven’t yet reached this point in your Christian life, you will, if you follow the living God. Indeed, you will have little tastes of it along the way until you come to the point of testing where you ask yourself, “Is this really the message? Is this true Christianity? Is this really who God is?”

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’” At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Luke 7:20–23)

Blessed is he who is in Jesus Christ, who belongs to the living God, but doesn’t fall away on account of Him. What point did Jesus make by this statement? “I am God and I will do what I decide to do.” God is God and how He acts and conducts Himself in relationship to us is totally His choice. When God doesn’t conform to what we have in mind, it’s difficult for us to accept. John was in prison. His struggles are understandable. John was used to being out in the open and being free. He lived for one purpose. He denied himself. He didn’t marry or have children. He didn’t eat fine foods or live in palaces. He had no comforts. All he lived for was to baptize Jesus Christ and point other people to him. Then, the living God allowed him to be placed in prison to slowly rot. He was there because of righteousness and holiness. He was there because he rebuked Herod. He couldn’t understand this God. John must have thought, “Why does Jesus free all these people from evil spirits and sicknesses, and He raises the dead, but He forgets about me? I served Him all this time. I devoted everything that I am to this living God, and He doesn’t respond in a way that I think He should. Why does He leave me here? All these doubts rage in my mind. Why doesn’t He answer them clearly?” All of us will be tested and tried. We will go through trials even if it is on our deathbed. If Jesus Christ died saying, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and yet he continued to have faith and trust God, why do we think we will escape?

Most Christians worship a God who is comfortable. They have him contained. Just look at the prayers offered in the church. “Bless us in what we are doing. Grant us this, Oh, Lord. Guide us in that. Protect our lives and be with us.” We try to make God do what we want Him to do. The purpose of the church and our prayers should be to ascertain the will of God, not tell Him what to do, how to respond to us, or to bless us in a certain fashion. If John the Baptist questioned this much and he was not a reed swayed by the wind, if he sent a group of people back from his prison cell to find out, “Are you really the Christ? Are you really the one?” why do we think we will not have some questions? I’ll tell you why, because we have a god in a box. Our pastors put him in a box for us. Everything is comfortable. Our god does what we want and what we tell him to do.

Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. (Luke 7:23)

Blessed are those who willingly to accept God on His terms. Blessed are those who surrender as He works His will through their lives, and do not constantly question, “Is this the truth? Is this really of You or not?” They understand the will of God, and what He has in mind.

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?” (Luke 7:24)

Look at the contrast Jesus Christ gives us. He tries to sober us up by saying, “God is God!” He is a God who takes away our loved ones. He does very uncomfortable things. We will look in detail at a few of those situations.

The church doesn’t want an uncomfortable God. People don’t want God to be God. Ever notice the Scriptures that most Christians share and the ones they leave out? When was the last time you heard anyone quote 1 Corinthians 16:22 that says, “If anyone doesn’t love the Lord a curse be on him”? That’s not a comfortable, loving God. That’s not a God that we like. Blessed is the man who doesn’t fall away on account of Jesus Christ. Think about it. He who has life, He who is life, He who is God causes you to fall away because of who He is and the way He acts. He doesn’t answer your prayers according to what you prayed. He doesn’t seem to respond in the way that you ask Him to respond. He leaves you in prison, but frees everybody else. Again, this will happen to you. If you worship the living God, you will either find yourself in this place or you are not following the living God.

Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Matthew 21:43)

How do you produce fruit?

He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed. (Matthew 21:44)

There are two options and two options only. Neither one is particularly comfortable. You can either be crushed by Jesus Christ (which is the pagan being sent straight to hell), or you can fall on the stone and be shattered completely to pieces. If you give yourself fully to Jesus Christ, if you fall upon this stone and lay claim to Him, you will experience all kinds of turmoil. There will not be one solid piece of you left together. He will be God in your life and you will not like it. Your flesh will not agree with the way that this God acts. You will either be shattered to pieces or crushed by Jesus Christ. He is God. He will come to you on His terms. You can either find life or death in that.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. (Matthew 21:45–46)

To preach this kind of Jesus Christ, and more so, to live and lay hold of Him means that the religious leaders will hate you. He’s not a God they like. He’s not a God they can contain. That’s why Psalms says, “Kiss the son lest his anger flare in a moment.” You can’t predict Him. You can’t outmaneuver Him. You can’t bring up a promise and say, “Oh, God, I claim the blood of Jesus Christ, now let Your anger disappear.” If He wants to be angry with you, He will do it. It doesn’t depend on your effort or strength. The point is, He will respond to you because He is God and there’s not a single thing you can do to move Him one way or the other. If He has decided, it will be done that way. But the Pharisees, teachers of the law and religious people want a God they can arrange, quote, and talk about. They want one who will bless their plans and do all manner of things for them except be God in their life.

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

Indeed, let us forsake our thoughts about who God is. Though we be in prison, or in a dungeon in chains, let us never question who He is and that His provision is true and good. Let us accept everything that He is and how He comes to us, no matter what the circumstances. That’s real faith and honest surrender.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9)

People quote this Scripture all the time. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways.” We head down one course and as the heavens are higher than our plans, He goes a totally different way. Yet why do we think it’s strange that God comes to us as God? Why do we consider that some bizarre thing in our life? Let us begin to believe and know that He indeed is God. What is the purpose of prayer but ascertaining his will? Do you understand the difference? If His ways are higher than our ways, then I don’t come to God with all kinds of prayer requests. Instead, I surrender and say, “What is Your will? What should I pray? What should be done? What do You want to work?” Knowing that I only understand in a small way the entire scope of His will.

Yet people constantly pray, “Bless me with a car. Bless me with a house. Guide me here. Grant me peace and love. Grant me all these things, Oh, God. I bring these promises and claim them. Put them in my life.” No doubt that was the struggle of John the Baptist as he must have thought, “I am praying. I am questioning. Why aren’t You delivering me from this prison? I don’t understand You.” We worship a God that we will not understand. The more we try to make Him conform to what we want, the more He will escape from us. What God wants is a simple surrender that says, “Thy will be done.” I spend most of my time in prayer trying to understand His will and what He wants to work through me, and having a joy and peace in that. But that’s not what you see today. Christians constantly try to get things from God and people no longer understand servanthood. Ecclesiastes 5:1 tells us people talk too much and do not listen enough to God.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

There is so much talk about God blessing our projects, guiding us in what we want and helping our ministry. Talk, talk, talk, talk! What does Scripture say we should do when we go to the house of God? Guard our steps, shut our mouth, and go there to listen. At all times, we need to ask God, “What is Your will? What do You want to work?” The minute I think I have it all understood, I discover I really do not. John the Baptist understood who Jesus Christ was. He proclaimed the gospel and pointed other people to Him. He was in the middle of God’s will and had to ask, “Are You the One?” How many times have I done the same thing, as I prayed about things and then watched God’s ways unfold? He is extremely frustrating. He never moves quickly enough for me. Never! I have one of two options. I can force God to conform to what I have in mind, which means that I no longer worship God, or I can learn to quiet my soul, shut my mouth and listen. I can hear and learn from Him what He has to say. But as long as I want something from God, He can never be God in my life.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

Notice that they offer sacrifices. They don’t come empty handed. They come with sacrifices and praise. They come with giving and tithing, but they are fools in what they offer.

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

Don’t be quick to utter anything before God! Whether it be praise, a request or anything. Do not even be quick in your heart. You see a heart at peace and a heart surrendered will say, “Okay, God, what is Your will? Work it through me. How are You going to be

God in my life?” It will be a surprising thing every single day. I haven’t contained God. I don’t understand Him. He surprises me in hundreds of different ways by how He acts, and half of it I probably don’t even notice. I am so blind to who He is and how He works. The more I shut my mouth and quiet my heart, the more I will see Him, and He will finally be what He wants to be in my life—God!

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

How do we know God is really not God in most churches anymore? There is too much talk, too many committee meetings, and too many Sunday school classes where the teacher goes around the room and gets everybody’s opinion about God. “I think God is this way. I think God is that way. God does this in my life.” Yet, John the Baptist hung in a dungeon and asked, “Where is God? Why does He behave this way? Why did He leave me? I don’t understand. I pray for peace, but I don’t have peace. I pray for victory over sin, but I don’t have it. I pray for all these things, but they don’t materialize.”

As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord there are so many times when I finish a conversation, throw my hands up and say, “I don’t know.” Those words have come out of my lips more and more as time goes on. I simply don’t know. I know He’s going to work, but I don’t know how it’s going to materialize. I will be surprised at the outcome. He is God. I just don’t know. You will learn to wait upon Him, whether it be in a dungeon or whether you are free to preach the gospel and point other people to Jesus Christ. I don’t know what trials He has planned for you. I don’t know how you will be tested. It might be on a bed of sickness where you wonder why He heals everyone else but not you. He might take our most beloved thing or person. We will not understand why. But let us prepare ourselves for this, that we might pass through it with joy. Let’s learn not to do what the Israelites did.

Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites… (Exodus 4:29)

God gave Moses a commission to deliver the people. Moses went to the Israelites and said, “Guys, guess what? God is concerned for you! He will deliver you, and these are the miracles He will perform.”

…and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people… (Exodus 4:30)

Did you realize that they got a preview of coming attractions? Moses performed samples of the miraculous signs that would take place. He told them how God was concerned for them and in love with them. And it says they believed. They were believers!

…and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. (Exodus 4:31)

A very humble people. Correct? A people worshipping the living God. Correct? A people saying, “This is a great God! We love Him. We give Him everything. We give Him our hearts. We are here for You, God. This is great! We’re ready.” Look at the miracles, the revival, the holiness, and the surrender. They are having a church meeting and worship- ping God. They don’t know enough to say, “Just don’t be God around us,” but they will in a moment.

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” (Exodus 5:1)

Just one little church meeting.

Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!” Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.” That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw. The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh’s slave drivers were beaten and were asked, “Why didn’t you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?” Then the Israelite foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.” Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.” The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” (Exodus 5:2–20)

Now verse twenty. We read all that to get to this:

When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:20–21

What happened to all the devotion? What happened to the love and the revival meeting that had just taken place? Where did all their devotion to God go? They had just said, “Oh, Lord, we worship You, we bow down and we love You. Thank You.” Yet, because God’s ways are not their ways, it wasn’t what they expected, was it? God came along and said, “I will deliver you. I am concerned for you. I love you and I will never forsake you.” Then He began acting like God. He started doing things His own way, things they did not expect, did not agree with, did not like, and did not understand. Their first reaction was, “May the Lord judge you, Moses.” They called upon the Lord to do this. They were still religious and noble. They were not just pagans saying, “May Baal judge you.” They said, “May the Lord judge you.” How can they go from being devoted one minute and the next calling down judgment upon Moses the next? Simple. God did something in between. He was God. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.”

So why do we seem to have God comfortably in His place in our Christian lives? Why don’t we have a God like this? Why aren’t we learning this lesson? We must not be worshipping the living God.

…and they said, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21)

“You are at fault for all the misery in our lives.” If you preach a Jesus Christ like this, if you share a living God with other people, they will want to kill you also. He is not a comfortable God. He will honestly come against everything that your flesh wants to do. Anything you are familiar with, comfortable with, and anything that you hold dear, He will come against and take. What is everybody’s tendency? Change the message and kill the messenger. We alter doctrine to fit what we want it to say.

Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?” (Exodus 5:22)

Moses doubted the quality and character of God Himself, didn’t he? Moses himself who saw the miracles and was given a commission said, “Is this why You sent me? Is this what You are about?” It’s the same question that John the Baptist posed to Jesus Christ. If you haven’t prayed this, you will. If you haven’t yet gone before God and said, “God, is this why You sent me here? Is this what You call the good life? Is this the abundant life?” If you haven’t said it, you will if you are following the living God.

Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all. (Exodus 5:23)

It’s a good thing God’s ways are not our ways, because I would have crushed Moses right then. I would have said, “Enough of that kind of talk.” We don’t have time to look at it in detail, but God doesn’t even reply to Moses. Why? He understood his ignorance. He understood that the Israelites were just beginning to learn. Later on, He was not merciful about this. Learn your lessons now. There will be a lot of things that you pray about that God will not answer your way. God will demand things that you will not understand. You will question, “Why do I have to obey this command?” You will not like certain aspects of the cross. At first you will snap. I guarantee it. “God, is this really what You have in mind?” But God expects you to grow, and He expects you to fall in love and learn to trust. Moses didn’t keep repeating this, did he? But the Israelite people did. They never learned to trust God, no matter what the outward circumstances.

Again, our God is God. He does whatever pleases Him. He is always right in whatever He demands of people. But He’s not comfortable. A God who makes mothers eat their own babies as a form of discipline is not a comfortable God. Why do you think pagans have so much trouble with the Bible? Because He is an uncomfortable God to look at. They don’t understand it. What do Christians do? They just ignore it. “Well, He’s still a God of love.” We back away from the issue. Who embraces these issues? I haven’t yet heard a sermon where the pastor preaches the uncomfortable things of God. I hope to do so someday. The next verse is one of those aspects.

I will devastate this city and make it an object of scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters… (Jeremiah 19:8–9)

He doesn’t say Satan makes them eat their children. He takes full responsibility. Do you understand what He’s saying? “I’m God and I’m telling you right now that you will eat your own children.” But in the church, we would blame this on Satan, if it would ever occur.

I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh during the stress of the siege imposed on them by the enemies who seek their lives. (Jeremiah 19:9)

I am not here to explain it to you. I am here to tell you this is who He is. And if He decides that it is good, noble, and holy on His part to make us, under discipline, eat our own children, then it is holy, good, and proper. He is not a comfortable God to understand or accept. I am not telling you that it’s easy. Let’s quit running away from this when we share with other people. Let’s stop presenting a comfortable Jesus. We do them a dis-service at the least. We don’t prepare them to meet the living God so then when they finally do, if they are lucky enough to meet the living God, they wonder what hit them. We don’t ever turn and tell anyone, “You are going to call upon a God, who, if necessary, in order to discipline you, will make you eat your own children.” That’s just the kind of God He is. He does what He wants, and He will do it in your life. He is worth trusting. His love and grace are there, but we don’t talk about this side of Him because it’s not the kind of God we like to present. I remember sharing this on the radio many years ago, and when I did, the phones lit up in protest.

In Revelations 6, it tells us that God causes people to go to war against one another. Christians are always asking, “Why is there so much war in the world and so much misery? Why can’t men just love one another?”

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. (Revelation 6:3–4)

Who does all this? Who takes peace from the earth and causes men to kill each other? The living God! Again, I am not here to explain it. It’s very proper and holy. It’s right and just. There’s nothing wrong with it. But He is this kind of God. I’m just trying to show you how uncomfortable a God you call upon. If God is willing to do this to the whole world for discipline, what will He do in your life in order to sanctify you and make you holy? I don’t know, but I do know that even John the Baptist, who wasn’t like a reed easily swayed, wanted to know if Jesus was really the Christ. Nobody wants a God anymore that allows Satan to put a thorn in their flesh. Everybody wants a God that’s “pre-trib” who gets us out of here before the tribulation occurs. Everybody wants a comfortable Jesus Christ. But He is God. He really is.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:5–7)

What message does the church preach today? “You’ll succeed. You’ll overcome. You’ll be powerful. People will do miracles during the end times. God will be with us, and we will be able to testify to His glory. We will do powerful things in the end times because God will be with us.” Not so! God decided a long time ago that as the end times approach and the beast comes on the scene, you will be powerless. You will be in the dungeon like John the Baptist. You will hang on a cross and say, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” You will want to know why God does this. “Why am I going through this misery? What is the purpose of it all?” There is a purpose and reason, but we are not going to discuss that right now. Verse seven says Satan will be given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. You will lose! You will not be on the winning side in terms of the battle. In terms of the war, you have won. As you experience this, you will think, “Is this the Christ or should I expect somebody else?” Why do you think men will believe the anti-Christ? Because our Christianity will not work. Their “Christianity” will work, but ours will not. We will be in dungeons, we will be pursued, and we will be overcome. The anti-Christ and his followers will have the victory. They will conquer and overcome the saints.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

We worship a God who rescued Peter from prison by an earthquake. His shackles came off and he walked free. Yet, Stephen was stoned and died. We worship a God who acts independently of whatever we think He should do in our lives. No matter how spiritual you are, how much you’ve denied yourself, whatever you’ve done, or however you’ve beheld the lamb of God, He will do in your life as He sees fit. You need to get your heart and prayer life in line with His will and stop making Him conform to what you have in mind. There will come a time when Christians will win.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:8–11)

Who sends the delusion? God. He will enter people’s lives and send a delusion on the earth, so people believe the anti-Christ. God takes full responsibility for who He is. If He says that a nation will eat their children and it’s discipline from His hand, He doesn’t shy away from the responsibility. He stands up and says, “This is who I am.” Even if men have studied about the anti-Christ, know about his coming and have prayed about it, if their hearts are not right before the Lord, it doesn’t matter. God Himself will make sure they believe the lie and follow the anti-Christ. We worship a God who is God and blessed is the man who doesn’t fall away on account of who God is, what He does, and how He behaves. If His ways are higher than the heavens, we will not understand and appreciate His ways until we are transformed. A great deal of our transformation starts as we shut our mouths. Job 13:15 gives the answer. It’s not some strange lesson.

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. (Job 13:15)

I don’t understand why He does what He does. I don’t understand the way He conducts Himself and why He does certain things in my life. But one thing I do know, in spite of anything that takes place in my life, I will hope in Him! You, too, will be tested and tried. You will go through things that make you wonder about this gospel call. Learn to say, “I don’t understand why He does this to me, or what’s happening in my life. But one thing I do know, even if He slays me, even if His anger flares and He destroys me, I will hope in Him.” That’s what God desires. He wants people who love Him, not because of what He does for them but just because of who He is. They trust. They don’t need to have everything explained. They don’t need to understand everything. They don’t demand an explanation of why God does what He does. They don’t even care if any of their needs are met. All they know is they are in love with Jesus Christ.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66)

Of course, you noticed the number on this verse is 666. Why did they turn back and no longer follow? John 6:26 shows us why and it’s really the core of everything we’ve been looking at.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me…” (John 6:26)

They eagerly come to Him. They love Him. They search for Him. They go to great efforts to find Jesus. “Where are You at? We’ve been looking for You. We love You.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26)

“I gave you what you wanted. I satisfied your little life. I made your belly full. That’s why you are looking for Me. But if I put you in prison and leave you there, if you experience hunger and if I don’t free you from that situation, but I free everybody else, you’ll leave Me.” Jesus Christ goes on to talk about the fact that God is not here to feed your belly or meet your needs. He’s not here to answer your prayers. He’s not here at your beck and call to do as you would like Him to do in your life. He is God and you have a choice. You can either worship Him without any thought of yourself and getting something from Him, just to worship Him as God, or you can go to hell. How many people do we need to turn to and say by the power of the Spirit, “I tell you the truth, the reason you cry out to God, the reason you pray, tithe, serve or study the word is that you might have your belly full”? Let me tell you, every single one of us is in this condition. But He will refine, purify, bless, and deliver us so that we love Him purely.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26)

Every Christian needs to contemplate some serious and sobering questions. Among those who claim to be brothers and sisters, ask yourself: “Why do they follow this Jesus? Why is their Jesus so comfortable and easy to understand? Why are they so blessed in everything they do? Why does God always seem to do what they want? Who are they really following?” In Jeremiah 10:23 let’s look at how we can be spared from this fate. By the way, go back and read that story in John chapter 6. Jesus turns to the disciples and asks, “Do you want to leave too?” They say, “No, You have the words to eternal life. You are the life. We don’t care if we get our bellies fed or not. We will love You.”

I know… (Jeremiah 10:23)

There’s a difference between comprehending, taking in, or agreeing with and being able to say, “I know.” Notice the conviction of the heart. He says it with emotion and with his soul. He says it like Paul says it, “I tell you with tears, many live as enemies of the cross.” It’s not dry, dead doctrine. It’s not a comprehension of the justification versus the sanctification of the Holy Spirit in our life.

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

He knows it. He understands it. He’s convicted about it. When he walks with God and says, “God, I am not in the prayer closet to direct my steps and get You to agree with the direction I want to go. In fact, don’t answer my prayer if it’s not Your will, because if it’s not, I don’t want any part of it. Keep me from praying anything that is not Your will.”

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Because Jeremiah knew this, he ran against the whole course of a nation. When we learn this and say it with joy, we are on our way. It is not for me to dictate to God how I die, how I live, or what blessings or cross should be in my life. I am just a foolish, stupid, human being that doesn’t understand His ways. I know this with tears. The last thing I want God to do is answer my prayers if they are not His will. Just look at the Israelites. They had answered prayer. They received meat, but God answered their prayer in wrath against their unbelief.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

You are not your own! It is not for you to decide where to go to school, when to get up, when to go to bed, how to talk, how to pray, where to live, or what to do with anything you own. He bought you. You belong to Him. He wants to work His will in you, and you will not be able to predict it or always understand it. You will feel confused at times. He is God and how He acts and moves in our lives in beyond our comprehension. All He really calls you to do is love Him, trust Him, and say, “Yes, Lord.” Romans 12 says that once you have surrendered you will be able to test and approve of God’s will, His good, pleasing and perfect will. I have hated so much of God’s will in my life, but I’ve loved it. My flesh often detested the way God worked. But my spirit and my soul and even at times my flesh can say, “This is pleasing and perfect. There is no better way.” Learn it now in the small things. See it in the most insignificant things you can think of and surrender now, because a day of testing will come when it will matter. Don’t even begin to say to yourself, “I’ve got this down and I understand.” Just look at how even John the Baptist, who was not a reed tossed back and forth, doubted. He questioned and went through struggles. Look at the life of Paul. He says, “I despaired even of life, but this happened that I might be dependent upon Him.”

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

You can’t even begin to be a disciple until you’ve given up everything. The gospel call in most churches is not even worth the manure pile.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:34–35)

You call upon a God that is uncomfortable and goes against your flesh. That’s what the cross means. He goes against your religious flesh or whatever aspect of flesh you have, and you must surrender it all. Why aren’t our gospel calls worth anything? Why aren’t they salt anymore? Because we don’t give up everything. “God, I’ll give up drugs and cigarettes, and You grant me the peace and love. Okay?” Or, “God give me a home, a car, work in this situation, grant me peace, and give me the job.” You hear it all the time. I have yet to hear anybody pray, “God, may I go through fifty jobs in this lifetime because I am persecuted out of each job.” He who does not give up everything he has cannot even begin to be a disciple, let alone talk about being saved. We are no longer salt. Think about it for a moment. If we worship a God whose ways are higher than the heavens from our ways, and we begin to live our lives on a daily basis with this in mind, everything we do will be totally bizarre. The community will not understand who we are. If we have trouble understanding the living God, what do you think the pagan neighbor next door thinks? But people don’t see us as being different because we haven’t surrendered everything. Find out what your cross is and get on with it!

I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. (John 21:18)

You will no longer dress yourself and go where you want to go. This is how you will end your life.

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:19)

Jesus is saying, “Peter, you can no longer do what you want to do. You are not your own. It’s not for you to direct your steps. I am God, and I will work in your life however I see fit. Follow Me!” You have an individual cross in your life that the Holy Spirit will show you. Don’t even say you understand it, because I know you don’t. The cross reveals itself moment-by-moment and day-by-day as you go along the way.

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:19–21)

Peter just doesn’t get it, does he? The living God came to him and said, “Peter, this is how you are going to die.” I would like to know if I will die faithful to the Lord. Certainly, I would love to be told, “You will be faithful to the end. They will lead you and you will die this way. This is how you’re going to glorify Me.” And I’d say, “Yeah!” So, Jesus revealed all of this to Peter in a very personal way. He said, “Peter, follow me. I’ve restored you after you denied Me three times. I love you, and we are back in fellowship.” Yet, what was Peter’s big concern? “What about him? What about this Christian over here? How come he has health and everything works for him?”

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:21–22)

It’s none of your business what God does in other people’s lives. Why even concern yourself with it? God would tell us grand things if we would quit worrying about what everyone else is free to do in Jesus Christ. Why do you think there’s so much immorality in the church? Because everybody looks at everybody else and says, “Well, they can do that, so I must be able to do that. He gets to do those things and have fun, why can’t I?” Nobody turns around to look at Jesus Christ and ask, “What is the cross You have for me?” Most churches don’t follow the living God. Just take a youth group for example. Is it really possible that God has convicted fifty people they all need to go to Elitches (an amusement park)? There isn’t one student in that youth group that God tells to stay home? Let’s just say for a moment that God got through and the kid came back and said, “I was having my quiet time praying today, and God told me I can’t go to the amusement park.” Everyone at church would be after him in a flash. He would be heavily persecuted, and he didn’t even rebuke them. He just said, “I can’t go.” Why? Because he’s living and following God so it’s a threat to everybody else. If God told him “no,” God can tell fifty other people “no” also. We can’t even get down to simple entertaining-types of things. The attitude of the church is if we are free to do it in Jesus Christ, let’s just go do it. Yet God says, “What does it matter to you what I do in someone else’s life? You have to follow Me. You are accountable to Me and nobody else.” You cannot stand before God in glory and say, “But so-and-so got to do it.” God will say, “I don’t care. This was My will for you.” You simply give an account of whether or not you did His will. We haven’t even begun to taste the will of God being done in our lives because we fit in too much with the world around us. People need to see hearts, lives, and actions that are different. It should drive them to ask questions like, “Why do you do what you do?”

If you examined most churches today, you would think God moves the same way in everybody’s life. Who would not want to walk into most churches and say, “I want to belong to your kind of God. This is great fun.” Church groups that take buses to Colorado for ski trips and think it’s great. Nobody feels convicted not to go. Nobody stands up and says, “You know, we’ve been praying about this ski trip, and we collected all this money. I really feel we should not go and just send the money to the poor.” “Oh, that’s good, brother, we’ll pray about that.” Individuals who follow the living God will not be readily embraced.

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed. (Luke 22:41)

This message is just not too far from us, only a stone’s throw. It’s just not all that miserable. Oh, to hang in a dungeon and have a God you can run to and ask, “Are You the one?” What is so hard about that? To finally come to an understanding of who God is and be in fellowship with Him on His terms. We can’t even stand spoiled children who demand that their parents do what they want. Or the teenager who says, “I love you,” because he gets something from his parents. But God’s heart is, “You need to love Me because of who I am and because I love you. That’s all there is to it. I am not going to bribe you.” This isn’t anything unusual or weird. Go to the rock and be crushed. Fall on this rock and say, “Oh, God, just be God.” You could spend the next year praying that and it would cover a lot of time and situations, wouldn’t it? Just ask God to be God. “Work in my prayer life as God.” How our prayer life would be transformed. Throw away the prayer journals and check-off lists. You don’t know if God wants you to use a prayer journal or checklist anyway. He did not tell you to use them. Throw them away. Go and bow down in the closet and say, “Okay, God, be God.” If that’s all you can say, say that. Indeed, I hope that’s all you can say. I hope you can at least acknowledge, “I am ignorant. I don’t even understand what I am praying, but just be God. Just begin to do the work.”

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

Isn’t that all we are talking about here? We are so busy running around telling God who He is and what He should do. We can’t even wrestle in the garden. We don’t even know what to wrestle with. When was the last time we heard God tell us to do something we didn’t want to do? We should go into the prayer closet and say, “God take this away from me, yet not my will be done.” No, we have Him arranged. We composed our wish lists. Our pastors tell us what to pray for and what to claim. “If you are sad, claim you’re happy.” Those pastors would be in the garden with Jesus saying, “What is Your problem? Where is Your faith? Get up off that ground and claim the power of God. Wipe that blood off Your face.” How many people rebuke the living God with His own Scriptures? We offer the sacrifice of fools. Let’s go into the garden, get up out of our sleep, look at who He is, and pray, “God, I don’t even know what to object to. It has been so long since I’ve heard Your voice and so long since You’ve demanded anything from me, I don’t even know what to object to anymore. You seem to agree with everything that I want to do.” That’s not the living God. That is not joy and peace. To pray in the garden with drops of blood and say, “Thy will be done,” is peace and life.

This message can be found at www.luke1425.org

 


Post #   4601

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Timothy Williams
If anyone does not love the Lord–a curse be on him.
Come, O Lord ! (1 Corinthians 16:22)



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