17 February, 1999
Matt 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place
called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here
while I go and pray over there.” 37And He took with Him
Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful
and deeply distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is
exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with
Me.” 39He went a little farther and fell on His face, and
prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this
cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You
will.” 40Then He came to the disciples and found them
asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with
Me one hour? 41“Watch and pray, lest you enter into
temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is
weak.” 42Again, a second time, He went away and prayed,
saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me
unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43And He came and
found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44So He left
them, went away again,
Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
Matt 26:43... and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Before anyone can set out on a journey it is important to first understand the route and what is going to be needed to accomplish the trip. The same can be said about building a structure such as a house, a barn, etc. Jesus himself said in Luke 14:28-30 "For which of you, intending to build tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29"lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30"saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' These are important words to remember as you begin to lay down plans for accomplishing your purpose. Do you have all the information necessary?
Part of your witness to the world is how well you do as an individual. You say that you are going to to take a journey to a far off land. There will be people who will be watching to see whether you accomplish it or not. Understand that when others are aware that you are a Christian, they expect to see God at work in you. Therefore if you fail they will not only mock you but they will also mock the God whom you say you obey. When you succeed they will praise your work and by extension, they will also praise God who is at work within you. Whether you like it or not they will judge God by your actions.
Therefore, on our road to glory it is important to know: 1/ Who we are. 2/ What God desires. 3/ Our enemy and the obstacles before us. 4/ In all these things that we are going to be stretched; physically, mentally and spiritually. There are also many other things we need to know as well. The first major step is to know what these things are and then pray through to commitment.
Why is this important? Ignorance of self is a sure path to destruction for your work as well as the work of those with you. It is also true that ignorance of others is also a sure path to destruction, of your own work as well as their own. We do not want to be like those mentioned in James 1:23-24For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. People who do not remember who they are and what they can do are a hindrance, for they do not know what they are made of and because of this they make plans and/or commitments that they cannot keep.
So where do we as individuals begin? The very same place Jesus did... in the garden. It was on that night that He made the decision that would forever change the course and destiny of mankind. He knew that before the next 24 hours passed He would be lying in a grave, dead! He also knew that the way toward the grave would be filled with pain, injustice, humiliation and horror. He knew Himself and He knew the cost. And Jesus prayed...
I found it interesting that He prayed three times. Three times He wrestled within Himself, knowing what lay ahead, yet always coming to the same conclusion. Not my will but thine be done. When thinking back on some of the "garden" experiences in my life I have found that I too often haven't prayed through to the same conclusion and to the same heart that Jesus had that night. In this series you will discover for yourself what the road to glory will be for you. What I write next is so that you will not fall short when you pray. Let me explain.
I have found in my own personal experience that once I have confronted the issue in prayer and have received instruction from the Lord as to what I am to do, one of three attitudes are present. All three end with the same word, "amen", but they result in differing attitudes towards what lies ahead.
1/ The Martyr -This is the saddest way in which to decide to follow what the Lord has instructed you to do. You sought the Lord, talked with Him, pleaded with Him and to tell you the truth begged Him that it could be different. Yet often it comes down to the point where God will not change His mind. You are left with no choice but to obey or rebel against His instruction. With thoughts of unfairness you accept it and you walk away with a broken spirit.
Many would think that it is a sign of humility or meekness. This is not the case at all. What has happened is that the person has simply given up. They may go through the motions of obedience yet when difficult times arise their witness is not one of humility or meekness but reflect the heart of a victim. What is worse is that this can be seen by others. There is no glory that can be given to a God that victimizes His own people. They are like soldiers who will enter into battle only to give up before they even start to fight.
If this is the attitude that you have after you pray, then return and pray again. You have not yet arrived in your heart where God wants you.
2/ The Temperate - This of course is a big improvement over the martyr yet still falls short. The attitude is one of acceptance, "OK, if it presents itself I will do it, within reason". This is the person that won't go out on a limb when the going gets tough. They are those who look at the passage, Romans 12: 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. This sounds good but they concentrate on the words "reasonable service" and neglect the words "a living sacrifice". They are like soldiers who will enter into battle but when the fighting gets serious will lay down their swords and walk away.
If this is the attitude you have after you pray, you're closer, but you have not yet arrived. Go back to pray again.
3/ The Warrior - "If this is what God desires I will do it or die trying". This is the attitude of commitment. Thankfully most of what God wants us to do does not have such an extreme price to pay. These people will always be there doing the work. These are the ones who will extend themselves to their own hurt if it will help another. They look to the welfare of others before themselves. Their word, once given, is like a rock. They are men and women whom you can depend on to give everything they have committed themselves to do in battle.
If this is your attitude you have arrived.
At this point I would like to point out to you that when praying, if it is going to be more than you can tolerate, God will pour His Spirit upon you, so that you may be strengthened. Just as the angel helped Jesus the third time He went to pray in the garden.
So then, what is it that I am trying to say? That you should pray until you get a solid commitment to straighten out your whole life? No!
What I am saying is that you are going to go on a journey. One of many journeys that will eventually lead you to the land of "Glory". The Lord is not interested in breaking you, but on the contrary, forming in you the image of Christ, just as one molds a lump of clay. On every journey that He wants you to take, it will require some stretching of your soul and the exercising of your faith. But first you must understand who you are, what He wants, the obstacles ahead and how much you are going to stretch. These things will be found in the garden... talking with Him. Then when you know the cost... pray until you have made the commitment of ...
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