Trusting In The Disposition of God: Pt 1 Our Efforts
Pt 2 The Fruit of Our Efforts
20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: 21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. 25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. 28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
We have in this passage a wonderful example of those Christians who fully trust in the Lord for the disposal of all they have, both in their efforts and in the fruits of their labors.
Paul here speaking to his efforts, all of which is disposed of by the Lord as he sees fit.
But also those of Macedonia and Achaia relate to the fruits of their labors, ministering materially to those who have ministered to them spiritually.
These all understand that all they have is of God, both in labor and in the fruit of their labor. Nothing they have is not of God, all is given as a gift and all is there for the blessing of all.
Those desires they had, as Paul had, to undertake the work of the Lord was for God to dispose of such works as he sees fit;
So too it was in relation to the willingness to give to the Lord in accordance with how he has prospered them, trusting him to dispose of those contributions as he sees fit.
Both Paul and those Churches, as representative of all faithful Christians in history, Trust In The Disposition of God; In both their efforts and their incomes, the Lord was entrusted to dispose of both as he sees fit.
“If the Lord wills” and “As the Lord wills” is the catch-cry of Christians related to God’s disposal of both effort and income, to do with them as he sees good.
This week we are looking at a portion of the text before us that indicates God’s disposing of Paul’s desires and effort, and how we are also to commit our ways unto the Lord, yet simply trust in his disposal of them. Sometimes those desires and efforts turn out as we wish them to, and other times they do not; yet are we to trust the God for his outcome in his time.
NEXT WEEK we are going to address the matter of money, that one single obstacle that seems to be the idolatrous bane of far too many Christians in these days, completely opposed to those faithfully trusting the Lord both in our passage and in days where such affluence was rare.
In both sermons, as a mini-series within a series, we will see how our faithlessness in Gods commands as a DUTY for us all, manefests in us joy, peace, comfort and blessing; but contrariwise how presumption and a lack of faithfulness in such duties manifest fears and trials and a relative feeling of abandonment of God when we are unwilling to trust him.
Both of these sermons with doctrines gleaned from the passage before us, should be both a reproof and correction, that you might overcome some of the greatest obstacles in your walk with the Lord.
To what extent do you trust God?
The answer to this question, manifested in both Attitude and Action, define if you truly are as trusting of God as you might claim.
I pray these are a blessing to you and pray you will have the courage to be challenged both this week and next. Don’t kick against the pricks beloved, the sermons haven’t begun yet.
Willing Our Desires Be Checked By God
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.Romans 15:22
Paul had strived in every way to preach this gospel and he did so in all areas he could, he preached the full gospel of Christ to those for whom it did not pertain, “to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see, and they that have not heard shall understand” (vs 19-21).
These are good purposes, these are noble desires, these are the efforts of all those who are committing the works that they work to the Lord, and there is NOTHING in these works that we might think logically to ourselves, are apart from the will of God, to the contrary, the preaching of the Gospel is precisely the will of God…
Yet Paul speaks to his purposes of coming to Rome to preach the Gospel as being hindered, even “Much hindered”, how do we make sense of this?
He had a desire to come to them
He had a desire to preach the Gospel
He had desired to minister to them
Each of these things we would think are both biblically and logically INSIDE the will of God, YET he was much hindered, and as we consider the balance of the Scripture before us, there is no evidence at all that he ever was able to see them. How do we reconcile this? How are we to check our own attitudes toward God when God determines to put a CHECK on our desires?
Now we do know that Paul did go to Rome, but not as a free man. His appeal to be tried in the court of Augustus assured only an audience with the emperor and not with his Roman brethren.
That Paul also died in Rome at the hands of an executioner is a matter of history, but that he was able to come to visit these Roman churches is not.
How are we to understand this?
What is the doctrine before us that we might also put a CHECK on our attitude toward God related to our desires and efforts?
Beloved, I understand that this is a relatively obscure account we see here near the end of the book of Romans, but it is not difficult to read of Paul’s desire being CHECKED by God, even “much hindered”, is this seen elsewhere in the Bible?
And, what can we learn?
- That we must be willing to TRUST GOD and to have ALL OUR DESIRES CHECKED BY HIM.
. 13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
So, we see that from the beginning of this letter to the Roman churches Paul’s desire was to come to see them, that he may have some fruit among them, to preach the gospel to the gentiles of Rome.
This was his “Purpose”, and, not once nor twice, but “oftentimes” he “purposed to come unto” them.
There was no lack in this desire, nothing turned about in him respecting this work and effort, all that was in him was to preach the Gospel and to fellowship with the brethren, BUT HE WAS HINDERED, the parenthesis of verse 13 says “(but was let hitherto)”…that word “let” referring yet again in its context to that confirmed in our text here in Chapter 15 of “being much hindered”, (the Bible employing its dictionary power on this word in its context, Let = Hindered).
Paul admits to being hindered from coming to the people of Rome, yet we see no hint of disappointment or frustration or sorrow, ONLY an attitude of purposeful intent and surrender to Gods will.
Let’s look at another passage and see if we can identify a similar outcome. This time, rather than a doctrinal letter, let’s look to an historical account, turn to;
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed (tested, proved, examined, gave diligent consideration of) to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
So in this text we notice on no less than two occasion that the object and purpose they had set themselves, both to preach the word in Asia AND Bithynia, was hindered, the text speaks in even more deliberate tones, “forbidden” “suffered them not” the Holy Ghost deliberately placing a CHECK on those determinations and replacing it with God’s own desire.
Now, clearly God is not LIMITING the Gospel, but in this passage God is also doing something else…what was the vision? A man of Macedonia saying “Come over into Macedonia, and help us”.
Whatever your desires may be, even after you have purpose within your own heart that those desires are favourable to the Lord and would be in accordance with his will, yet your attitude should always be willing to have those righteous desires checked by God if he wills.
God clearly had an hierarchy of purposes. Unlike God, Paul can not be everywhere at once, God’s preference was for Paul to be sent aside. Like a General who knows his soldiers well, sets the tasks specific to the calling and ability of their servants, God here placing a check on Paul’s ambition, turning him aside to that which is of greater value to the Lord.
Some of you might be confused as to why God has you CHECKED in your ministry at the moment. Your desire is to move on, your desire has all appearance of being within Gods will, you have logically assessed this well, but still you are checked in this particular desire, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently ….
Are we willing to trust in the disposition of God?
Disposition: this is an interesting word, some synonyms to the word disposition are; nature, character, inclination, tendency and disposal
Each of these words are a reasonable definition to how this sermon title is defining this sermon.
Are you willing to trust in the nature of God?
Are you willing to trust in the character of God?
Are you willing to trust in the inclination of God?
Are you willing to trust in the tendency of God?
Are you willing to trust in the disposal of God respecting all your efforts?
Are you willing to trust that all your desires, and all your efforts are always and at all times subject to the Lords veto? How is your attitude in this regard?
Willing Our Efforts Be Ordered By God
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;Romans 15:23
Note firstly here that Paul had a desire to see them, to see the people of God, to see his brethren. It wasn’t the grandeur of Rome that he had a desire to see, it wasn’t the architecture, it wasn’t the majesty of the global government that was the subject of his desire, but it was the Saints of the Lord.
having a great desire these many years to come unto you; (v23)
In this he reaffirms the purpose of his desired effort from the first chapter
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
We at times make light of the importance of being in fellowship with our brethren, there are times when we desire to see a certain place for the sake of the place itself and not the people of the place, yet it’s ALWAYS the people of the place that makes or breaks the visit.
Pauls desire was to come unto the people, his desire was to fellowship with them, to preach the Gospel, and this was his great desire for many years.
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
Paul gave consideration that all his work had been accomplished in those other areas, “having no more place in these parts”, in other words having no more place to attend to the works of the gospel in those parts, all his work there being accomplished in the sight of the Lord. And so, Paul considered this to be an opportunity, with a hopeful effort to then come unto the people in due course.
No matter however what Pauls desired effort was, he had always to be willing to have his efforts ORDERED BY GOD.
13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
We are at risk sometimes of being presumptuous respecting that which we desire to extend our efforts, but are we willing to accept that God should be the one who sets the order of our efforts?
James here in this passage, chastises the believers who make claim with respect to the events of today or tomorrow or next month or the year after, as to all the plans that they have set before them, he makes clear that they don’t even know what will be tomorrow.
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Every time we borrow money for a given endeavour we are making a bet on tomorrow.
1 Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
When we do so we run the risk of presumption, assuming God has this same order set for our purpose as we do.
James makes clear that though we think so highly of ourselves and of our own purposes, our life is but a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
Jesus makes it clear that we cannot swear or promise anything unless we have control of EVERYTHING.
So what ought we to say? First, we ought to humble ourselves and say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that”.
We should be willing to have all our efforts ordered by God, to accept his priority for all things at all times, and to rest and rejoice in it, whether that be a temporary good, a temporary setting aside or even a temporary evil.
We will talk more to the “temporary evil” in the last point this morning.
The point is that the Lord has an order to which he desires matters to be attended to, our plans to attend to another work elsewhere is always to be accompanied by a heart that says “if the Lord wills”.
Are we willing to trust God even to REORDER our efforts and desires?
Willing Our Purpose Be Blessed By God
24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.Romans 15:24
We see Paul’s heart was to bring the Gospel also to Spain, this was his priority in a practical level.
We see that his order in the next verses was bring the gathering of the collections from the faithful churches of Macedonia and Achaia (Most likely the churches at Philippi and Corinth), to the poor saints of Jerusalem.
To bring from those who have been blessed spiritually by Judea, that blessing which may encourage the poor of Jerusalem materially.
The spiritual lack of these gentile churches now filled, a carnal gift is collected to fill the material lack of these poor saints. (We will speak more to this circular blessing next week)
This was Paul’s order and his commitment to have all blessed of God.
Now, Spain as yet, had no man plant the truth of Christ, so the purpose of Paul was faithful.
- We know he was capable for the work.
- We know his desire was motivated by love.
- We know also that the Gospel is the very purpose for which Christ came and died,
- So we know it was Gods will that the people of Spain hear the gospel.
Paul never got to Spain, So what is the problem?
For the purpose to be blessed of God, we must also trust that it is possible that that purpose not yet be ordained of God.
Beloved, God determines that which is in accord with HIS priority. He sets the order AND the people he determines for the work…and we are to trust him.
Solomon here testifying to the work of God through him and recalling to mind the heart of David his father;
7 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel. 8 But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart: 9 Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.
Beloved, there is no evidence that we have that Paul had ever reached Spain for the sake of the gospel of Christ.
For all that we know of Paul at this time was that his journey to Rome was as a prisoner and more or less direct; nothing is spoken of within the scriptures respecting any journey to Spain nor a journey from Spain to Rome. In fact, we can say with confidence this never occurred as it was not Gods purpose for Paul.
Was there a problem with Paul that God would not use him?
Was he simply not suited to the task?
9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
The LORD directs each of our steps when we are willing to commit them all to him and to trust him with the outcome.
This two-sermon mini-series is about TRUSTING IN THE DISPOSITION OF GOD, it is about taking him at his word and allowing life to fall out in accordance with his will and being wonderfully pleased thereby.
Never do we see Paul disappointed in the disposition of God.
Yes, we see his trials, yes, we see his afflictions, pains, and sufferings, but never ANY gloominess or disappointment. To the contrary.
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
It is your will that your purpose be blessed of God, the work itself however may not be yours to fulfill and in this you still rejoice.
Now, we know also that the Gospel had indeed gotten to Spain by other means and men, but it was not for Paul to do so.
As a matter of interest please understand that King David knew that God had not determined for him to build a house for him. The house God desired to build in Jerusalem, the City of Peace, was to be a house of Peace and Rest, this would not be consistently built by a man of war and bloodshed.
His Son, Solomon, would be a man of peace and rest, for it was in his rule that Israel had peace and rest. So God purposed such a King to build his house….but;
That did not stop King David in attending to all the preparations. David gathered all the materials for the work and set much in order for the time Solomon his son, would be ready to build.
David paved the way for a successor, in this he too partakes in the work.
So, Be willing to have your Purpose blessed of God, even if he disposes the work to be carried out by another.
Trusting In The Disposition Of God
28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.Roman 15:28-29
Its interesting to see what Paul was most confident in;
I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Everything else was that which may or may not occur, but if it did occur he was perfectly sure that it would be fully blessed of the Lord.
33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
When we had determined as a Church to underwrite our first youth camp outreach, we knew already that the Lord would bless the work having pulled together so many things.
And indeed, his disposing of the camp was in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
The same is true for you personally if you would be patient in the Lord.
21 There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
We plan, we arrange, we scheme and we sometimes have wicked men scheme against us. This same turn that we are to trust in positively can also be assigned negatively to Gods enemies.
23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Whatever the devices of the wicked are, we can know that none shall prosper unless the Lord wills it, and if he wills it then he wills it.
10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. 12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
Are we willing also to trust in the disposition of God if the plan of God has a temporal evil in our lives? Or do we have deep within a hidden Pentecostal notion that we should never receive evil at the hands of God?
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Did this occur because Job was a wicked man as his friends claimed? Notice the idea that bad things only happen to bad people goes back far into ancient history, it is not a NEW IDEA.
Jesus addressed the same thing many times;
We are to be simply trusting in the disposition of God.
Beloved, men and women every day are dropping into eternity, and their precious souls are perishing for the lack of the Gospel, how have you set your purpose in life?
You claim yourself a Christian, you feel yourself faithful, you boast to be a part of a church that preaches the word of God, yet how have you set your life’s purpose? Have you set God’s will as your own?
How far are you willing to trust him?
Jb 13:15 Though he slay me yet will I trust him.
Some have been frustrated thinking God is not blessing their efforts and desires and for this there could be many reasons;
- Perhaps its your lack of faithfulness in other areas.
- Perhaps you are not yet ready
- Perhaps the timing is not in his plan
- Or perhaps God has ordered something else for you.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.