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Sunday Sermon – 11/4/01 –
His Way – Matthew 11:17


His Way

"We played the flute for You, and You did not dance; we mourned to You, and You did not lament" (Matthew 11:17)

Last week ("The Friend II"), we explored Matthew 11:19, where we saw that the Lord is concerned about our attitudes. He wants to be our Friend and died for us, proving His friendship to all the world. But friendship goes two ways and He has certain expectations of you and me.

Actually, many people DO want God to be a Friend, but the problem is that we often want that companionship to be on OUR terms, not His. It’s common to find that when the disappointment of people (about God) is examined, it is like they have wanted God to be a sort of "genie" carried around in a magic lamp. The person who carries that lamp gets "three wishes" and most people don’t want to use their "wishes" on little things, because they might use them up.

But when they finally rub that "lamp" (pray about something that is important to them), they expect God to obey them, and become angry at Him when He does not. It’s like those of Israel who intimated to Jesus, "We played the flute for You, and You did not dance; we mourned to You, and You did not lament" (Matthew 11:17). The Jews had certain expectations of the Messiah, but He offers much more than anything we might wish.

There’s an old Jewish story about a little boy playing hide-and-seek with friends. For some reason, they stopped playing while he was hiding. He began to cry, and His old grandfather came out of the house to comfort him. After learning what had happened, the grandfather said, "Do not weep, my child, because the boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from what has happened. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things."

The American singer Frank Sinatra, sang a song called "I did it my way." And there’s a certain pride and accomplishment in doing it "my way." But there is a better song, written by God Himself, that might be called, "His way." It is a fine song, tailored to our needs, and it is much higher than the songs we write, which are usually dedicated to some whim of the moment. We need to patiently trust in the Lord and not want everything our way.

George Matheson said (as to "Let us run with patience" - Hebrews 12:1) "to run with patience is a very difficult thing. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: it is the power to WORK under a stroke; to have a great weight at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christ-like thing!"

George Matheson's preceding statement is extremely important. Our human goal is typically to try to understand and control EVERYTHING. Our attitude is often like the Private First Class who barges into the General's tent and shouts, "What is going ON here?" To "run with patience" is to trust in our Commander when we fail to comprehend the course of the battle. To "run with patience" is to have faith in Him when we would rather fall down and weep. We believe in Him, even when comrades in arms are lost. Our Commander is faithful to us and He has already won the war. "I have overcome the world," He said (John 16:33), and He PROVED His words by His death and resurrection.

"We played the flute for You, and You did not dance; we mourned to You, and You did not lament" (Matthew 11:17). Jesus is not our assistant who must jump to our beck and call. Rather, WE work for HIM, and if we trust in Him, He gives us His Spirit, who will enable us to do that work. And it’s a "work" of joy, for He is with us, and it is His effort, not ours, that accomplishes the goal.

Remember the Scripture, "Likewise also the Spirit helps our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that searches the hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). This is a WONDERFUL Scripture and it, too, places our relationship with God into proper perspective.

Even our prayers, which God has pledged to answer, are subject to His will. Not our will but His, and that is consistent with the "Lord's Prayer", where He taught, "THY will be done" (Matthew 6:10). A. B. Simpson put it like this: "He separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and wrong, and presents the rest with the incense of the great High Priest before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in His Name."

This is true of your "work" and mine in His Name. We must learn to delight in HIS accomplishments, His deeds, His will, and give glory and honor to our Lord. So many times He blesses us and we must always remember, the work is His, and so is the glory, for He is indeed wonderful. We were at a funeral service in Inglewood, California, this week, and one of the pastors said, "God doesn’t need your vote to be who He is."

Our theology, our doctrines, our ideas about God are limited because WE are limited. But He is without limitation - our job is not to analyze but to WORSHIP, for now and all eternity. We may "play the flute" but He is not required to "dance." We may "mourn" for whatever reason, but it is not essential that He "lament" in relation to our mourning. It is us who serve Him and not the other way around. Let’s do it HIS way.

Father, we ask that Your will be done in our lives. No longer our will, Father, but Yours. We want our hearts and lives to belong to Jesus, and we ask for Your Spirit, that we may learn Your way and trust in You more. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries



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