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James Merritt - Yes He Will

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    James Merritt - Yes He Will
TOPICS: Prayer

Well, today actually is 15 years ago, the day we started this church. And I want to tell you, take myself back in that period of time because it represents one of the biggest struggles and biggest challenges I've ever faced in my life. I was in an endless debate with myself, and I was going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So do I stay in a church where I've been, spent almost 18 years of my ministry? The church loved me, things were going great, we had no problems whatsoever. I had a huge staff, had state-of-the-art facilities. We had a very large budget. I was preaching to thousands of happy people every single week.

So do I stay there, or do I leave it all and go to a school cafeteria and start preaching to a couple of hundred people? So the big question I was wrestling with was real simple. God, what is your will for my life? What do you want me to do? And I don't mind telling you, it was a struggle. Some of you have been there, some of you right now are there, some of you will be there. Because if you really do love Jesus and you're a follower of Jesus and your heart is right, that's really what you want for your life. You want God's will.

Now, I was reading about a third grade boys class that the teacher was teaching a Bible study one day and he was trying to explain to these third grade boys the concept of God's will. And he said, now boys, it's just so important that you honor God's will, and you understand God's will, and you do God's will and you be in God's will. And it's really important, you've got to be in God's will. Well, one of the boys seem real confused. He's raised his hand and he said, "Mr. Smith," he said, "can I ask you a question". He said, "Yeah". He said, "Well, my dad's an attorney and he does estate planning and my question is, if God's gonna live forever, why does he need a will"? Now God does have a will but it's not that kind of a will. God's will refers to what God is willing to do and what God wants to do.

Now, having said that, when people talk about the will of God, you have to differentiate what you mean because the will of God can mean certain things. There's different aspects to God's will. For example, God has what we call sovereign will. Now, what God's sovereign will is, is very simply, what is always going to happen. It's like if somebody said, if you wanna know what God's sovereign will is, look what happened yesterday. Whatever happened yesterday was the sovereign will of God. So for example, it was God's sovereign will to create this world. It was God's sovereign will to send His son. It is God's sovereign will to send His son again. It is God's sovereign will that there's gonna be a new heaven and a new earth. It is God's sovereign will that one day, my dead body, when I die, will be resurrected.

All those things are gonna happen. You can't stop it, I can't stop it, all the armies in the world can't stop it. God has a sovereign will and it will be done. But then God has what we call a perfect will. And God's perfect will would be things like this. It would be God's perfect will that there'd be no crime, that there'd be no racism, that there'd be no lying, that there'd be no addiction, there'd be no war, there'd be no gators. God has a perfect will. What God would desire, what God would want. But then the problem is for some of us, the reason why we do have crime, and the reason why we do have liars, and the reason why we do have these, and the reason as to why we do have terrorism, and the reason why we do have murdering is because God has a permissive will. We're not robots.

God says, you know, I've got a perfect will for your life and you'll be a lot happier, and a lot healthier if you'll follow it, but you, I'm gonna give you a will and you can do what you want to do. And He allows us even though we have to suffer the consequences, He allows us the freedom to do what we want to do, which brings us to the mystery of prayer. Because prayer is mysterious. I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm a pastor. I don't understand prayer all the time. I'm a pastor. Prayer is hard work. It's not the easiest thing to do. And if you've ever had this thought, get in line with me. Does prayer really work? But does it really make a difference? Maybe for example, we've all had this all. No, wait a minute. If God's sovereign, God already knows what's gonna happen tomorrow before it happens, why do I need to pray? Well, the reason why I'm gonna tell you confidently that prayer does work, and the reason why I'm gonna tell you confidently that we do need to pray is really found in four simple words, the will of God. That's it, the will God.

People ask me all the time, does God always answer prayer? That's a very easy question to answer. The answer is yes He will. However, we need to understand what prayer is all about because I'm about to show you in just a second. This is where we all get fouled up on our prayer, and this is why we get discouraged when we pray, and this is why we say, well, you know I prayed about this and God didn't come through, and I prayed about that and that didn't happen, and I prayed about this and that didn't go anywhere because here's what we need to understand. Prayer is not about asking God to do your will. It's about asking God to do His will. It's not about your will. It is about His will. And the key to getting our prayers answered and heard is the will of God.

Now let me tell you the good news. God is so passionate. God is so excited about His will for us, that He not only wants us to know His will, He not only wants us to do His will, He wants us to pray His will. And we see that in a short little letter, it's a great letter that was written by one of Jesus's disciples, his name was John, and it's a little book almost at the end of the New Testament. If you wanna look it up today in your Bible or smartphone or iPad, whatever you use, I want you to turn to 1 John, not the gospel of John, 1 John 5 because John in two little short verses gives us a principle that will not only encourage us to pray, but it all really make us eager to pray, all right?

Now here's the principle. Okay, this is everything I'm gonna say. Listen to this next statement. Praying in the will of God will always accomplish the work of God. Praying in the will of God will always accomplish the work of God. So, if you don't want your prayers to be dammed up, if you don't want your prayers to hit the ceiling, if you don't want your prayers to be blocked, you've got to get your prayers flowing in the will of God. So here's what we find, and listen to what John says. John says, number one, God's will guides are praying. God's will guides our praying that Jesus begins by saying this. He says, this is the confidence we have in approaching God.

Now that word confidence in the Greek language is really interesting. It's a word that literally means freedom of speech. And originally, it was a political term, and it referred to the freedom that you would have to speak your mind in an open assembly, or in the halls of government. And so the question is, what John is saying is, look, if your prayers are gonna be effective, if they're really gonna get to where you want them to go and do what you want them to do, they gotta be free. Well, free of what? Well, they gotta be free of your selfish desires. They've got to be free of what we want. They've got to be free of what we think we need. 'Cause you remember when Jesus, when the disciples came to Jesus and they said, Lord, teach us, you know, to pray, remember what He told them, He said, I want you to pray this. Your kingdom come, your will be done. Not my kingdom come, my will be done, your kingdom come, your will be done. The purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, it is to get God's will done on earth.

So, when you go to God predetermined, right off the bat, when you go to God and you say, Lord, before I say a word, let me just tell you something right now. I want your will to be done. I don't care, forget what I want, I want your will to be done. Then you can always go to God and know that God hears that prayer. As a matter of fact, the more determined you are, and the more committed you are, in praying to seek God's will and do it, the more confidently you can approach God. Now, I'm gonna make an honest confession to you and I hope some of you can relate to where I am. I'm a pastor and I hate to admit this, but I'm just gonna tell you the truth. There've been times I have gone to God in prayer with very little confidence. There have been times I've gone to God, and I've just not been real convinced that really anything is going to happen.

I'm not always really convinced that God is going to hear my prayer. And as I've looked back on it, I've realized that deep down what my problem was was I had the wrong focus. 'Cause sometimes we get this idea that God answers prayer kicking and screaming. He didn't really want to answer our prayer but, you know, if we'll bug him long enough and we'll, you know, pester him long enough and if we'll pray long enough, He'll finally kind of give in and answer our prayer when the truth of the matter is all God wants is our prayer just to flow in His will, that's all He wants. There was a great prayer. You may have never heard of it and that's okay. His name was George Mueller. He lived back in the 19th century. George Mueller started an orphanage, it became one of the largest orphanages in all of London, England.

When George Mueller started this orphanage, he decided to do something and God didn't call all of us to do this, but he decided to do something. He said, Lord, I'm never gonna ask for a dime. Never gonna ask anybody to get any money whatsoever, that's scriptural to do that, that's okay, so I'm not gonna do it. All I'm going to do is pray, and he did. And God began to answer prayer after prayer, after prayer, after prayer, after prayer, and all those years he built that huge orphanage, never asked for a diamond. This is what blew me away. When he died, he had in writing 25,000 distinct answers to prayer that God had given him in his lifetime, 25,000. I want you to listen to what this man said about prayer. He said, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of God's willingness".

Now let's be reminded of something. This promise is not for everybody, because listen again to what John said. He said, this is the confidence we have in approaching Him. Well, now who are the we? The we are true followers of Jesus. The we are those who by faith have been born again into God's family because the only people who can pray with this kind of confidence are people who are children of God, who can go to God as their father. Let me tell you what makes a big difference. It's one thing to talk to Him as God. It's a different ball game when you can say, father. I got three boys; James, Jonathan, Joshua. There's one thing they figured out when they were really small, and every kid does. They figured out, if I really need something, go to dad. You know what, they're grown men. Nothing's changed.

If I really need something, I can go to dad. They know. They're one of the very few people in my life, no matter where I am, if my phone rings and it's just them, I answer that phone. And they know, dad's got my back. Oh, and let me tell you, some of you know this. It that triples with grandchildren. I got four grandchildren. They want anything, they need anything, come to pop, just come to pop. And you know the reason I love grandchildren so much, they've learned how to blackmail in the sweetest way. Ever noticed that? I mean, how many of you are grandparents? All right, you know what I'm talking about. All they gotta do is say, I love you pop. What does it cost? Where do you need to buy it, right? My grand, you know, I've told you, my grandchildren have a model at my house. I can have anything I want at pop's house.

Now, I hate to burst your bubble. That's not true about your kids at my house. It's not true about your grandkids at my house, but it's true about my kids, and it's true about my grandkids because they are my family. When you go to God as your father, and you pray in God's will, through God's will, for God's will, you can know that God will give ear to your prayer. God's will guides our prayers. Here's the second thing that he says, God's will guards our praying. It guides our praying, it guards our praying. He goes on to say this, he says, this is the confidence we have in approaching God. Now watch this. If we ask anything according to His will, what does that say? He hears us. Anything according to His will, He hears us.

Now, before God will answer a prayer, He's got to hear it. But what John says is when you walk into the presence of God and you say, God, I'm just here for one purpose and one purpose only, I just wanna find your will and do it and pray it, that's all I'm here for. He says, you can know right now. God's ears go on full alert. You've got His undivided attention. Now, in order to pray in the will of God, you got to seek the will of God. To seek the will of God, then you know the will of God, but then to know the will of God, you've gotta be willing to do the will of God.

Now this is important, all three of those steps are necessary. To do the will of God, you've got to know the will of God, to know the will of God, you got to seek the will of God, but there's no need to seek the will of God if you're not willing to do the will of God, because there is a catch here, okay? Ready? You cannot know what God wants you to do until you are willing to do whatever it is He wants you to do. You cannot know what God wants you to do until you are willing to do what God wants you to do.

Now let me tell you why you should want that. If you truly understand God, and you really believe that God always wants what's best for you, if you believe that, then the greatest desire of your heart should be to find the will of God. The greatest delight of your heart should be to do the will of God, because the greatest danger to your life is to refuse the will of God. I don't know some, I just don't understand why sometimes and I've been here, why are we so afraid of the will of God, knowing that God only wants to give us what we would want if we were smart enough to know it and to want it? You need to remember something. We can pray with confidence knowing that God will never give us everything we want otherwise we'd get a lot of things we shouldn't have wanted.

Can I be honest? I look back on my life. If God had said yes to everything I wanted, I'd be in a mess. If God has said yes to everything I wanted, I wouldn't be married to the greatest woman I've ever known in my life. If God had said yes to everything I wanted, I wouldn't be on this platform right now. If God has said yes to everything I wanted, there's a lot of great things that God's allowed me to do, I would have never done. And let me tell you something. God is best at knowing what's best for you. God is best at knowing what is best for you. Now, if you believe that, then you ought to do everything you can to make sure that everything you asked for aligns up with what He wants, not what you want. And God want you to know what He wants for you. He wants you to know that, as a matter of fact, God is more eager for you to know His will than you are.

Some people get this idea, you know, well man, I just wish I could find the will of God. You can. God didn't play cat and mouse. He didn't play hide and seek. He didn't say, okay, here's, you know, here's three shales, which one's got my will? It's not like Easter eggs hidden in the grass for us to find. He has given us a bunch of tools and a waste to know who He is where He says, look, James, I've given you the word of God, I've given you the spirit of God, I've given you the people of God, why do you think I've done that? I want you to know my will. I want you to know exactly what I want you to do, but here's the point. You gotta be willing to do it before He tells you. Let me say something. I thought about this a long time. I look back on my life and my ministry, I have never found anyone yet, who could not discern the will of God for their life that wasn't willing to do it. I never have. I've never found anyone that ultimately could not find the will of God for their life if they were truly willing to do it. But you'll never know it, until you're willing to do it, 'cause here's the way we operate.

Now, we're gonna get real personal here for just a minute, okay? We treat God's will like a cafeteria line. We'll say now, father, I want your will to be done as long as it's here. And I want your will to be learned as long as it's there. Now, if you want me to do this, I'll do that. If you want me to go there, I'll go there. Now, Lord, do you want me to be a missionary? Okay, if it's to Hawaii, I'm all in. That God, if you want me to, you know, if you want me to do this job, as long as they'll pay me a quarter of $1 million a year, I'm in. And it's amazing to me how we kind of play, you know, this cafeteria game. And the truth of the matter is, if you wanna know God's will in one area of your life, you've got to make sure you're lined up with God's will in every area of your life. And see, this is what prayer does. Prayer forces us to focus in on God's will. God's will is like a guardrail. It keeps you from going over a cliff, asking the wrong thing. God's will like a buffer, keeps you from crashing into a wall. God's will is like a safety net, it keeps you from falling into trouble.

And so here's what, here's, let me tell you how good God is. God is so good that here's what He said to all of us. He says, look, when you come to me in prayer, I not only want you to be sure of your prayer, I want you to be safe in your prayer. I wanna make sure that you're praying for what you really need and what is best for you. So God's will guards our brain, and God's will guards our praying, but now what's this last thing? God's will guarantees our praying, guarantees it. Now look, listen to this. If we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of Him. Now you see that word know? The word know there is used twice. And let me tell you why that's so important. Thinking something is true is an opinion. Knowing something is true is a conviction. God says, when you come to me, I don't want you to think I'll hear you, I don't want you to hope I'll hear you, I don't want you to feel I'll hear you. God says, when you come to me, I want you to know that I'll hear you.

As a matter of fact, He says, you can be absolutely convinced and have an absolute conviction that two things will be true about our prayers if we're praying in the will of God. Two things, if you go to God and say, God, before I say anything, I've already signed my name at the bottom of the contract. I don't care what you put there, I'm already committed to do whatever you tell me to do. Then God guarantees two things. Number one, God will respond to your prayer. God will respond to your prayer. That word here, God will hear our prayer. It not only means just to listen to something. God's not just going to listen to what you say and then move on, He's gonna act on what you say. God does respond to prayers.

I have to tell people this all the time, they don't believe me. There's no such thing as unanswered prayer. Well, God didn't answer my prayer, that's not true. God answers every prayer. He just does it in different ways. Okay, and I've told you this before. You know, sometimes God says, no. I used to break your bubble, no is an answer. So God says no. And I just, I wanna help you out here. I'm just trying to, okay, when God says no, don't palate, don't get upset, don't hold your tithe, don't quit coming to church, don't punish us because of God saying no, take it out with Him. Okay, don't do that 'cause listen. Every time God says no, it's not, He's not being mean, He's not being stingy, He's not being bad, He's saying, this is not best for you. But then sometimes, God says yes. And sometimes he says yes almost immediately. And I love those kinds of prayers, I do. I mean, it's just so great when you pray about something I mean, boom, it just happens.

Can I tell you something? That's probably true about 1% of my prayers. God's answers not usually just yes. But, sometimes God's answer is yes, but. In other words, God says, well, yeah, but my answer is gonna be different than what you thought it would be. You know we want one thing, but God knows we were going to need something else. For the time I was five, until about the week before I graduated from college, I thought it was God's will to go to law school. God said, no, not law school, but seminary. I thought it was God's will to be a lawyer. God said, no, be a pastor. I thought and wanted to sue him, God said, no, help save him. God says, you want one thing, I want another thing, okay? So sometimes God's answer is no, sometimes God's answer's yes, sometimes God's answer's yeah but. But listen, sometimes God's answer is yes, but not now. Yes, but now.

In other words, God says, okay, hey with me, you care about time, James, I don't care about time. Timing is everything. And there are times that God may want exactly what you want. He just doesn't want it at the same time you want it. Listen, I led Amanda the Lord Thursday. I mean, I'm so excited. I mean anytime I lead somebody to Christ, it just makes my year. So I led Amanda the Lord Thursday. He is a very successful real estate, owns a real estate business and just a super, super great guy. I've been working on that guy for almost a year, a year. He came to see me in my office, and he's just a great guy, came to see me in my office and he just, he was clueless about Christianity, just clueless, had all kinds of questions, and I've been praying for him every Tuesday and working on him and just working on it, pray in for him, I had to send him a note, this, that and the other.

So finally I told Kelly, I said, Kelly Miller, let's set up a lunch. We had lunch last Thursday, and when we had lunch and I'm telling you, I mean he is just question, great questions, okay, just question that question. So finally we get down to brass tacks and I mean, he looks at me, tears up he says, I wanna get my life to Jesus. And that was wonderful, there in that restaurant. He prays and gives his heart to the Lord. Can I just be honest? I walked out of my car and I sat down I said, I am worn out. I'm exhausted. I said, Lord, I've worked on this guy for a year. Why couldn't it have been the first time he walks into my office? Yeah, I'm ready to get saved. I don't know why, I don't understand it, but God says, hey, timing is everything. Now, we're gonna pray today, and every one of us are gonna be praying and pray for God's will.

Now let me just tell you how we're gonna pray. Now this is gonna work. There are some of you right now, for example, and you're going through a very, maybe some very severe marital difficulties, and maybe the D word has crossed into your mind. Let me help you. I know the will of God for you. It's not divorce. God hates divorce, hates it. I know it's God's will if at all possible to keep the vow till death do us part. So we're gonna pray for some of you that God would protect your marriage. Now there's some of you, you may be thinking about getting married, but the problem is, in fact, I was talking to a mom and dad today after the first service and they were really broken-hearted because their daughter is now saying that she's gonna marry this guy who, you know, this guy's not a believer. And so they're so just broken up about it. And if you're thinking about marrying somebody that is not a believer, let me just tell you that it is not the will of God for you to marry a believer.

And then there are some of you, and you're not a believer at all. You don't know Jesus, you don't believe in Jesus. I know the will of God for you. So how do you know? 'Cause God's even told us. God says, it is my will that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of your truth. That's God's will. So I already know not trying to be arrogant, not trying to be upsetting, make you upset. I know it is God's will for you to be saved. So I want you to think about this. Let's say everything I've said is true. If everything I've said is true, then the highest achievement in life is finding the will of God. The greatest accomplishment in life is doing the will of God. And it is His will that we pray for each other and we're gonna be praying to the God whose will is so wonderful.

You say, wait a minute, pastor, I would ask you a question. How do you know God's will is always just the greatest thing in the world? I'll tell you how I know, 'cause one thing tells me God's will is always the best, and always the greatest, and always the most important thing we could ever do. Because God's will was so wonderful. He said, James, it was my will to send my son to die for your sins and come back from the grave so you could have your sins forgiven, you could have a new life, you could know what life eternal and life abundant is all about and drive away the cherry on the cake. We're gonna spend eternity together. That is my will for your life, and I want it so badly for you. I am willing to send my son. That's how wonderful God's will is, and I'm telling you, the God that cannot lie says if you ask anything according to my will, I will hear you and you will have that for which you have already asked.
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