By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross
We continue this week with our discussion on how we hear from God through prayer. We’ve learned that the primary way we hear from God is through the study of his word. We can also hear from God and know his will through prayer, but prayer isn’t what we often make it out to be. It’s not about getting what I want from God; it’s about God getting what he wants from me. This week in our study of how we hear from God in prayer, we examine the phrase from the model prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
If God alone is good (Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 both say: “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. ; Luke 18:19 ) and therefore defines what a good life is, then a good life is not found in the success of my will but in the submission of all things to God’s will.
God alone defines what is good, true, wise, right, and loving, so our hope in life is never in getting our way. Hope in life is never in the realization of our own dreams. It is never found in gaining as much control as possible over the people and circumstances in our life. Hope is never found in my will being done. God has never not existed; his perspective goes beyond the origin of our past and beyond the future of our destiny, so he really does know what is best for all of his creation, including you and me. As such, true prayer is not getting the all-wise God to submit to your imperfect will but is an act of submitting your imperfect will to the all-wise God.
Unfortunately, we all slip from time to time into thinking we’re smarter than God. There are times for each of us when we believe that our plan and what we want is better for us than what God wants for us. We curl our lips at the “dish” God has lovingly and wisely placed in front of us and seek something we find more appetizing; but our idea of better will leave us empty, unfulfilled, unhealthy, and unable to receive the future good that God has in store for us.
So today, cry out for grace because the temptation to think you know better than God is still a powerful threat to your prayer life and your ability to hear from God; that puts us in the dangerous position of being our own hope – our own idol to which we pray, “My will be done.” Cry out to the Savior who submitted his own will to that of the Father to bring about the greater good for all mankind; He knows what it’s like to wrestle with wanting something different than the Father’s perfect will! Cry out to Jesus to save you from yourself. Pray for the sense to know that there is no safer, no better place to be than in submission to the will of your Father in heaven. Have the courage to pray, “Your kingdom come – let your kingdom’s reign begin in my life today. Your will be done – right here, right now, in my life – just like it is in heaven.” When we are joyfully willing to submit to God’s will for our lives, we know that his grace has entered our hearts.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV):
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
Bull team competitions are growing in popularity. To win, the team needs a bull that will score high enough but a rider who can also cover him because the scores will be combined to find a winner. Too rank a bull will score higher at that end but if the bull rider bucks off, they can’t win. Too easy a bull but the rider covers, neither will have high enough of a score to win.
Everything has to work together perfectly to win but the key word here is “together.”
The stock contractor can’t win on his own and the bull rider can’t win on his own.
The stock contractor brings his talents in breeding, caring for and training a good bucking bull. The bull rider brings the skills he’s developed to go from being one-jumped out of the chute to being able to spur a 90-point ride.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Throughout this chapter in his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul is telling them about who they all have different gifts given to them by God. In this instance, he is describing specific spiritual gifts, as he makes the point that each person is needed despite being different from the others.
We’re all working together for a common good. God’s good.
For Christians, we all have a part to play
1Corinthians 12:12-20 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
With descriptions of different body parts instead of different gifts, Paul is reminding the church how they all are part of the body of Christ. Even though we have different gifts, we all serve the same God who has put us where He wants us to be and will use each of us for His purpose.
A common argument that comes up between contestants and producers is when a fair board wants to charge the contestants admission. The cowboys are quick to point out there isn’t a show without them because the crowd is coming to see them. The producer has to point out there isn’t a show without the committee. And nothing happens for anyone without back pen workers and a crew to set the whole thing up.
Everyone has a vital part to play for the show to succeed.
Everyone has a vital part to play within the body of Christ.
As Christians, we know that even as a stock contractor, event producer or rodeo contestant, our tasks, given to us by Jesus, are to love others, share the gospel and teach others. We also know that in everything we do, we’re meant to glorify God. These are part of the “common good” we can be working toward together.
Just like we have all make up different parts in the success of a show, we all serve Jesus together in our own ways. You might be the person who is skilled at starting a conversation with strangers and your friend might be drawn to helping others. On the way to the rodeo, he stops to help the family whose car is broke down at the side of the road and while he changes a tire, you’re the person who ends up telling them about Jesus.
We all have a part to play but we all serve Jesus together knowing it’s God who puts all the parts together.
By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross
We’ve been trying to understand how to hear from God and know His will. We noted that studying the Scriptures and prayer are two of the most frequent and consistent ways that God communicates with His people. We continue our examination of The Lord’s Prayer this week with the purpose of hearing from God. This is the prayer that used to be recited in school, taken directly from the Bible. The phrase we will examine is “Your kingdom come.”
The gospel Jesus preached in his ministry is summed up in Mark 1:15. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Notice that there is no mention of what Christ did for us on the cross or the denial of self to follow Jesus; all this is true and very important, but it is the work of Christ and our response to his lordship that accomplish a specific goal: the fulfillment of God’s eternal and perfect kingdom. The grace extended to us by God through Jesus Christ is intended to capture us for a better kingdom–God’s kingdom. But when we don’t think about that first or understand it, we end up trying to get in the way
In Mark 9:30-37, Jesus told his disciples that he would soon be captured and killed. They didn’t respond with concern or remorse. Instead, they argued amongst themselves about who among them was the greatest.
Unfortunately, we all tend to pursue the establishment and glory of our own kingdoms where we are lords and rulers of all. In some sense, we all hope to accomplish a situation such as that described in the parable of the rich fool: And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19). We want to create for ourselves some vision of our own utopia where we have all we need, our labor is easy and fruitful, our family members meet our expectations, and all things work together to keep us happy and fulfilled.
There are several problems with that model.
One problem is that we lack the ability to control circumstances and people (others and even ourselves). Look how hard we work to win a rodeo and look what happens to our attitude when we buck off a bull or bronc we were determined to ride or miss our catch after hours at the practice arena. We can do all we think we can to win, but it’s never guaranteed no matter what effort we put into it. As much as we try to control the outcome for a win, we can be badly hurt or killed. This is a fallen world, we are fallen people, and we are not Sovereign God! Another problem is that our perpetual happiness and fulfillment is rarely ever good for us or for mankind collectively, nor is it glorifying for God – the very purpose for which we were created.
In Luke 12:32, Jesus said to his disciples, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Jesus didn’t come to exercise his authority and power to make my little kingdom work, but by grace to welcome me as God’s child into a much better kingdom than I could ever create under my broken leadership and pathetic power. Only in the kingdom that Jesus invites us to can we experience eternal life, peace, and joy.
God, I repent of trying to be a sovereign ruler over my own warped mini-kingdom. May your glorious eternal kingdom come in me and through me today.
By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross
Peace is a Fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians and is something that grows in us as our faith grows. To experience peace is to understand that God is in control. Our focus needs to be on Him and our knowledge that everything works out for His glory, even if it isn’t working out the way we want.
To not recognize God is in control or to put our own desires first, can lead us to a place of worry and even fear. How do we make a truck payment if we just spent $60 in entry fees and all our money on gas to and from the rodeo and bucked off?
Our peace comes from understanding what it means to have a saving faith in Jesus. We rest in the trust and comfort that God has saved us from the punishment meant for our sins and given us an eternity with Him in Heaven where there will be absolutely nothing to worry about.
Worry can mess with your heads and continue to add to the pressures that contribute to bucking off, not catching a calf or damaging our relationships. Many worry that an injury might not heal right and that their careers could be over. We worry about our family, our relationships, a doctor’s appointment for a recurring pain in our stomach.
As the fruit of peace grows in us as we continue to grow in our faith and become more like Christ, our reasons for worrying diminish and we learn to trust in God who, through Jesus, tells us in Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Jesus throughout the whole section of Scripture, describes in detail how well God cares for all His creation but emphasizes that we are the most valuable part and have a purpose.
God has put in front of us whatever it is He wants us to do or deal with today. From the verses in Matthew, we know God wants us to trust Him. Even when things aren’t going according to our plans, they are working for His good. Always. He will take care of what is coming tomorrow, we just have to face what is in front of us today.
By Jesse Horton / Cowboys of the Cross
We continue our discussion of how God communicates with us. The first and primary way God communicates with us is through the Scriptures, which when understood correctly always lead us to truth and deeper knowledge of God. The second way God communicates with us is through prayer. We’re examining the Lord’s Prayer, and today we’ll take a closer look at the words “hallowed be your name.”
I often tell my kids when I drop them off at school in the mornings, “Remember who you are and whose you are.” As enigmatic as that sounds, it’s actually quite simple. Everyone who knows me knows what my name is. I am identified by it. When you hear it, you likely think of the title pastor (or at least that obnoxious retired bull rider know-it-all who won’t stop talking about the Bible). Hopefully, my character and actions cause you to have pleasant thoughts when you hear my name.
God’s name is YHWH (Yah-weh). He is identified by that name and by various titles he has embraced for himself (Lord, God, Creator, Father, etc.) to help us understand his character and nature. When we hear God’s name or any of His titles, it should immediately evoke a response of awe for who He is.
I tell my children to remember who they are because I want their name to be associated with good character and actions. I want them to realize that every good thing they do reflects on their name and on our name as a family. Likewise, every bad thing they do reflects on their name and on our family’s name. When their teachers hear or say their names, I don’t want the teachers to immediately have negative thoughts about my kids: troublemaker, disobedient, foul-mouthed, bad influence. I would much rather them think kind, helpful, studious, encouraging, gracious.
Additionally, because my children are mine their behavior reflects upon me to some extent, so I want them to remember whose they are. Unfortunately, I am not a perfect parent, and it’s bound to show up in various ways. Even so, my children must make their own choices. Those choices reflect on me as a parent regardless of whether I approve of the choices they make. But God is a perfect Father, and yet He has no perfect children but Jesus the Son. Having a perfect holy Father, our goal should be to bring honor to Him and to His family through our character and actions.
So, when Jesus encouraged us to reflect on the holiness of God’s name in the model prayer, he’s asking us to remember that our Father has a reputation that is beyond impeccable. The God we pray to has a character that should shape how we pray. He is high and lifted up, sovereign above all things, and our character and actions should reflect that we belong to one as holy as He! The purpose of prayer is not to make our wish-list known to a genie in a bottle. When we pray to our Father in heaven, we submit ourselves to His holy purpose and yield ourselves to His will for our lives to glorify His name!