New Life Bulletin 7/4/21
Whenever we Christians talk about prayer, most of us admit we have our struggles with it. Why are some prayers answered, while others just as worthy, and nearly identical, are not?
Of course, we have also been taught to say things like, “All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is ‘No.’”
Another part of any discussion on prayer has to do with God’s will. What is God’s will? Is it anything that happens which we may or may not like or may or may not understand? In other words, is everything God’s will? There are those who say so. But for me, that would make Jesus’ instructional prayer to disciples somewhat empty. Jesus said to pray that God’s will would be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. That can’t mean that since everything that happens on earth is as well. Why would we pray for something to happen that can’t be changed? To do so would be mouthing an empty, phony, phrase.
Rather than starting with all the questions about what the will of God is, perhaps we should start with what Jesus and the other New Testament writers actually say God’s will is?
As stated, God wants his will done on earth, and he wants us to be involved in doing it. That’s the “May your will be done.” But what is God’s will? In my trusty concordance I couldn’t find very many places where it said, “God’s will is so and so”. There are lots of places that talk about doing God’s will, but not specifically what God’s will is. Of course, doing good and all that is God’s will. I’m talking about what does God do, or has done, which is what the New Testament calls God’s will. The most directly worded scripture is II Peter 3:9, at least in the KJV. There it says, “God is not willing that any should perish”. The NIV says God does “not want”. By the way, I Timothy 2:4 says basically the same thing. So, if God doesn’t “want” it, then it’s not his will. When it says God is not willing (i.e., it is not God’s will) that any should perish, does that mean no one will perish? No. Is it God’s will then that they do? No. So, in this case, and I believe in nearly all others, God’s will being done also involves the person who is willing for God’s will to happen. Are there exceptions? Perhaps. But, if it is God’s will that no one perish, and that requires our “willingness”, how does that relate to God’s will as we pray?
When Jesus prayed in the garden that God’s will that he dies be changed, was Jesus helpless to change it himself? No. He could have walked out of the garden and back to Galilee before Judas and the soldiers got there. Why didn’t he? Because he was committed in his life and heart to do what needed to be done. But God’s will being done rested on Jesus’ willingness to do it as well.
For example, is it God’s will that humans sin? I hope you say no. If we pray that God will stop all sin and God doesn’t, should we conclude that sin is God’s will? No. How would that prayer be answered? Is it with a “No”, or “I can’t”? Sin is stopped when humans bring their will into God’s will.
You may say that God could stop sin. You could say that, but how would you know it? Sin is recognized as sin by contrasting it with good. There has to be an up to have a down, and an in to have an out, sin to have virtue.
When I pray that the texting, blue toothing, drinking driver misses me or my loved one, am I asking that they hit the person behind or in front of me? Sadly, in a way, yes. But more to the point, I am asking that I or my loved one be alerted, sharpened even, by God’s presence, and that the “terror” be spotted by me (them) or by the police, or that they are somehow awakened to their stupidity (sin) so that no one is killed. If I don’t get the answer, I asked for, was it God’s will? Did God answer, but say “No”? Or “I can’t because of sin”?
If I, or a loved one has a deadly disease, and I pray for a cure and not get it. What’s God’s part in that?
Let me put it this way, and I don’t want to simplify a complex problem, but what if God would try to explain it to me? Would he say, “From the very beginning I gave you life and the world. I told you to take care of what I gave you. We’re in this together. If you want to throw it away, I can’t and won’t stop you.
“As we continue on this journey there will be things you want that you can’t have, at least not when you want them. But because you have asked, together we will seek to make it happen. If I, did it all for you, you would never grow. There would be no future if I gave you the future now. There would be no discovery if there was nothing to discover. Life would have little or no meaning. This is your time, and in your time you and I will take the steps of future discovery together. What we discover now will be the knowledge those who come after you will use to continue with doing my will.
“You will find the answers because you asked the questions. It is when you ask me “why” that together we move deeper into finding an answer. But remember this, sin, the evil humankind does, has, and always will, stop my will. When you refuse to accept the ignorance of today, that becomes tomorrow’s progress and discovery. Each step is based on the one below it. Without that lower step there are no more.
“Some of your disappointment in what you ask me for will be because of what, for a better term, I call ‘Foolishness’. These are not so much sin, but carelessness, the things you call ‘accidents.’
“If your son or daughter goes on a hike and slips and falls to their death, and you had asked me to keep them safe, was it my will? No. It may have been because your child took a foolish risk. It may have been because someone who was to provide safety measures failed at their job. It may even have been a loose rock. It’s the things like loose rocks, lightning, floods, falling trees, and other such natural disasters that really cause you to ask questions. I understand, but there is a randomness about the whole of creation. So, in order for my will to be done on earth by both of us, sometimes I just can’t. If I, did you would stop learning and doing the things that give you growth, value, and dignity, and I won’t destroy that.”
THOSE TO SERVE IN JULY
Announcements: Joanne Elder
Ushers: Holly Wagner
4-Wayne Flora 11-Karen Branch
18-Del Bolin 25-Karen Branch
Scripture: Mark McRoy
4 – Keith Wagner 11- Mike Branch
18- Wayne Flora 25- Mike Branch
9-Nathan Flora 13-Samuel Blessing
15-Lauren Mileti 16- Zona Fisher
17-Andressa Mileti 19- Jim Hunter
21-Brock McRoy 25-Oliver Hogan
26- John Bolin
2- Jake & Ann Claris “AC” Fuller
4- Wayne & Susan Phlegar
CONCERNS: Please keep Erma Williams’ family in your prayers – her father, Bill Breazeale passed away last week. The funeral was Monday, June 28th in Maryland. Burial will be in Missouri. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has a serious six-month oncology treatment plan.
Please continue to pray for Alisa Flora’s nephew, Ethan Gentry, and her sister, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Flora’s parents, Sylvus and Martha Flora, and sister, Jan. Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Brenda Windham, has cancer that metastasized into her colon (again) and her liver. She is doing chemo and will get another scan in a couple of months. Leena Bolin’s brother, Steve (Covid lung scarring), Steve’s ex-wife (possible ALS) and son (bi-polar) would also appreciate your prayers. Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s sister, Jan, and brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet. Gary is now home.
Megan Downing’s aunt, Stacey Smith, will be checked monthly for a while. Megan’s grandmother Bonnie Beaver has 3 more weeks of chemo treatments. Jim Hunter has been diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency and will be going to UVA on September 29th. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, has health issues. Please pray for Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole and Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.
ALSO REMEMBER: Medical student of Del Bolin, Cory. Calesta Saunders, Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Nick Hodges, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jo-Ellen Griffith, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, and Tim Elder.
* Movie Night – We will be showing TOY STORY on July 9th at 6:30 in the Annex. Please pray and get the word out on this weekly event.
We have started holding evening services at 6:30 pm for those who are unable to attend Sunday Mornings. However, due to the 4th of July holiday, there will be no evening service on July 4th.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
Del Bolin will be out of town for the next two weeks. We are putting a hold on the study of Acts. Keith Wagner will be teaching for the next two Sundays; topic will be determined. Please come join us.
ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS *
We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link is below:
*We anticipate not having YouTube service this week, but will start back on Sunday, July 11th.
Join the Zoom Meeting on the study of Matthew at 7pm.
Meeting ID:873 6718 6931
We are continuing to gather at the Mileti’s home on Thursday nights at 6:00pm to pray and work through the church vision statement. This has also been a great time for fellowship. Come join us. Please RSVP to let the Miletis know if you plan on coming.
Items needed: grape jelly, any kind of cereal, canned pineapple, kids’ fruit snacks, Rice A Roni (chicken flavor).