Thursday, August 20, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Stand Firm In God’s Will
Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
A man starting a fish business put out his sign that read, “Fresh Fish For Sale Today” and invited all to visit his place of business on opening day. Many came and congratulated him on his new business. After several days of operation, one already faithful customer suggested that he change his sign. “Why the ‘Today’? It is today.” So he removed the word “Today”.
Someone else said, “Why, ‘For Sale’? Everybody knows you have fish for sale—or else why the store?” The words “For Sale” came off the sign.
Another said, “Why the word ‘Fresh’? You are a man of integrity, which guarantees your fish to be fresh.” “Fresh” came off the sign.
Only one word was left, “Fish” and one complained about it. “I smelled your fish two blocks away.” The sign was removed from the store. People stopped coming, thinking it was closed. The man’s business went under. If only he had stood firm on the foundational principles of his business, it might still be thriving.
The individual or congregation that tries to satisfy everybody ends up by pleasing nobody. If we start compromising, we will end up serving the devil. The man should have put up his sign and then stood by it. This is what we are to do in life. Accept God’s will for our lives and stand on His promises.
The Christianity of modern culture is in trouble because we have forgotten the foundational principles of God’s will. We have decided to take what we consider to be the easy road of acceptance by listening to the voices of the world around us. We seem to prefer comfort in the world, even though it is accomplished only by conformity to the world. To avoid conflict with the world we have chosen conflict with the Holy Spirit. We believe the inner turmoil and distress that produces is a small price to pay for the peace we think we have achieved with the world. We have ignored the warnings of Wisdom that tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
As the Apostle Paul comes to the end of his letter to the church at Colossae, he begins sending greetings from other servants of God who are with him in prison. Be honest, most of the time when you read Scripture you skim over these parts thinking there’s nothing of real value in them, right? How wrong you are. Paul tells us about Epaphras the prayer warrior. Take a close look at what he prayed for. Take a closer look at how big of a burden it was to him because he knew from personal experience how hard it was to do. He prayed that the Christians of Colossae would stand firm in the will of God. I find that very interesting because I think most of us believe it is easy to stand in the will of God. Why? Well, it’s because we have chosen acceptance by the world as the will of God. We’ve chosen the security of possessions and financial stability as the will of God. We’ve chosen to witness less and talk more about the weather and sports so we will fit into our circle of friends. We’ve decided that the will of God for us is to enjoy this life and be successful according to its standards.
Standing firm in the will of God is hard. Epaphras knew it – he was in prison for doing it. Paul knew it – he suffered for it everywhere he went. We know it too, but have chosen to avoid the suffering rather than identify with it and experience the fullness of the resurrection power of God in our lives. See what Paul says in Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
There are many, very many Christians who are afraid of making an unreserved surrender to God. They are afraid that God will ask some hard thing of them, or some absurd thing. They fear sometimes that it will upset all their life-plans. In a word, they are afraid to surrender unreservedly to the will of God, for Him to do all He wished to for them and whatsoever He wills with them. Friends, the will of God concerning us is not only the wisest and best thing in the world; it is also the tenderest and sweetest. God’s will for us is not only more loving than a father’s; it is more tender than a mother’s. It is true that God does oftentimes revolutionize utterly our life plans when we surrender ourselves to His will. It is true that He does require of us things that to others seem hard. But when the will is once surrendered, the revolutionized life plans become just the plans that are most pleasant, and the things that to others seem hard are just the things that are easiest and most delightful. Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God’s plans for your life. (R. A. Torrey)