Our Father Knows Best

Series: A Constant Sense


Pt.#5 – A Constant Sense

Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / August 09, 2015

Why is it that prayer sometimes seems difficult?  Why do we sometimes see prayer as an arduous duty?

Why should something that is such a privilege not always be a delight? 

Last Sunday we spoke about HINDRANCES TO PRAYER.

Praying may sometimes seem difficult simply because of growing pains as a disciple.

But it also might be the case, that our prayers are hindered by our own bad behavior.

God may indeed not be responding to our prayers, at least not in ways we deem favorable,

due to our own sinfulness … an unwillingness to forgive others … and/or strife at home.

Maturing disciples of all ages need to realize and acknowledge that our prayers may sometimes be “hindered” (overridden) by THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. 

This can be a difficult truth that challenges our faith and trust in God.

It is far easier to speak the words, “THY WILL be done”, that it is to truly accept what these words may include.

The sovereignty of God is a truth that we might affirm intellectually, yet struggle emotionally to fully comprehend.

This is true for all humans, but it may be especially true for us Americans.

After all, our nation’s birth was staked on a declaration of independence that states

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator

with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Engrained in our collective national DNA is this “spirit of 1776”.

What initially was a proclamation of self-governance vocalized against the capricious sovereign rule of King of England,

has with time morphed into a don’t-tread-on-me mentality that even dares to challenge the wisdom of Almighty God.

However, that which King George was un-deserving of, Jehovah God is worthy of:  God remains SOVEREIGN.

In what is known as the “song of Moses” (Deut.32:3-4), Moses writes:

“For I proclaim the name of the Lord;  Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock!  His work is perfect,

for all His ways are just;  A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.”

Never is this truth more difficult to swallow that when God Almighty answers our prayers with a “No!”.|

What we discover when we objectively study the Scriptures is that God sometimes says “No!”.

And it is well worth noting that some of these “Nos” have been given to men & women of noteworthy faith.

It is true, as James writes (Js.5:16), that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”.

But it is also true that sometimes a righteous man or woman can ask of God and not receive.

Moses, a man of faith (Heb.11:24f), entreated God in prayer (Deut.3:25):

“Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan land (i.e., the promised land)”.

Yet God’s answer was “No!”.    Vs.26 / “The Lord was angry with me on your account,

and would not listen to me and said to me, ‘Enough!  Speak to Me no more of this matter.’

David, a man after God’s own heart, aspired to build the Temple.

2Chron.28:2-3 / so I had made preparations to build it. But God said to me, ‘You shall NOT build a house for My name…”

(Please take time to read David’s prayer in the aftermath of this denial from God – cf. 1Chron.29:10-19).

1Jn.5:14 is a verse that we need to etch into our thinking.

This is the confidence we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

In holding this verse near, let’s be careful not to adapt the text to our liking - - it is not, “if we ask anything, He hears us”.

“If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”.

I want to rehearse three Biblical stories that remind us that God is sovereign.

The first story is from the Old Testament, and the other two are from the New Testament.


The book of Job begins by providing a thumbnail sketch of the man Job (Job1:1).

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job,

and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil.”

Vs.2 adds, “Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.  His possessions also were

7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants;

and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”

Vs.13f records a great calamity so devastating that we can hardly imagine the magnitude of it all).

With a rapid-fire series of events, ALL WAS GONE.

Gone are all his possessions - - the oxen, the donkeys, the sheep, the camels, the servants and even all ten children.

The narrative unfolds with the “counsel” of Job’s “friends”.

I have the word “counsel” italicized in my notes, because although it may be well-intended, it’s simply faulty human logic.

But sadly, it’s a brand of counseling that you and I are often found guilty of perpetuating.

One example (Job 4:7-8) from the mouth of Eliphaz:  your sins must have brought this upon yourself.

I do not doubt that Job’s counselors are his “friends” - - but their advice left much to be desired.

The good thing they did came early on when they sat silently with Job for a week, empathizing with him.

Job.2:13 / they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights

with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

When Job’s friends finally felt compelled to speak, God allowed them to talk for nine chapters - -

When they engaged in expounding on their views of God and His sovereignty and providence,

in their human interpretations of Job’s sad situation, they were wrong nine chapters out of nine.


When did Job finally receive the Divine interpretation of his troubles?  He never did!

During his earthly life, the most Job could save was:

“The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.” / Job.1:21

Job’s words are a profound statement of faith that serves as a template of trust for us all.

When God says, “No!”, are we able to say, “Thank-you!” nonetheless?

Throughout the crises of our lives, are we able to affirm that OUR FATHER KNOWS BEST!?

Even when, and especially when, we can make no sense of it all … when there is no sufficient human explanation.


Saul of Tarsus, that once-dreaded exterminator of Christians, had become the beloved apostle Paul - -

a bondservant of Jesus Christ, a man of indefatigable faith and zeal for the things of God.

Surely, we assume, in light of his conversion God will now give this man of faith the earnest desires of his heart.

Yet we read in 2Cor.12:7 that Paul is afflicted with “a thorn in the flesh”.

2Cor.12:8 records the fervent prayer of a righteous man - - in this case it is the prayer of Paul the apostle.

“Concerning this (thorn in the flesh) I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

Vs.9a records God’s negative answer.  “He said to me, ‘(No) My grace is sufficient for you…”

Furthermore (vs.9b), “for power is perfected in weakness.”

Paul displayed the faith and wisdom to rightly conclude (vss.9c-10):  “most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my

weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults,

with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How could Paul possibly be CONTENT in the midst of such chaos and calamity?

How could Paul come to say “Thank-you” to God’s No?

The answer:  he had come to know & affirm (intellectually & emotionally) that His Heavenly Father knows what’s best.


Finally, one more story that we all know so very well.

In the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, we find Jesus entreating (praying fervently to) God.

Lk.22:41f records, “He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,

saying, ‘Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; and yet not My will, but THINE be done’.”

Surely, we can safely conclude, that if anyone was ever deserving of a “Yes” answer from God it was Jesus.

Why should the perfect Lamb of God have to endure “the Curse”?

Why should the One who knew no sin, have to “become sin” on our behalf?

Why would God’s anointed One, the only-begotten Son of God, have to experience “the agony of Divine forsakenness”?

Could there not have been some other way????

And yet God’s answer is, “No!”.

Isaiah the prophet once wrote these words given to him by God (Isa.55:8-9):

‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways My ways’, declares the Lord.

‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’

I am convinced that this was one of the verses that William Cowper had in mind when he wrote

the song that we just sang before the start of our sermon, God Moves In A Mysterious Way.

The fifth and final verse comes to a close/crescendo in declaring,

“Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan His work in vain;  GOD is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain.”

The idea here is not that God will always make His intentions plain (understandable & comprehensible) to us.

Rather, that GOD WILL MAKE IT PLAIN THAT HE IS GOD - - and as God, He does not have to explain Himself to us.

Not to Job.  Not to Paul.  No even to Jesus.  And, likewise, not to you or to me.

Paul speaks of this very thing in Romans 11 - - the conclusion to the most heavy-duty text you will ever read in Scripture.

Paul details one of the great mysteries of God’s plan of redemption.

Salvation has come to the Gentiles because of Israel’s rejection of their own Messiah.

Yet God would also find a way to once again graft in the faithful remnant from among Israel.

In summary Paul declares (Ro.11:33):  “Oh, the depth and the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!


Then Paul quotes from Isaiah (Isa.40:13f):  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has become His counselor?…

From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.

Our privilege is to pray.

But if and when God’s answer to our persistent prayer is a “No!”. then it becomes our task

to accept and practice the words we often utter, “Not my will, but THINE be done.”

And we must learn to do this willfully (not begrudgingly) and, even more - - with thanksgiving and contentment.

  In the words of Job / “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away, BLESSED be the name of the Lord.”

  In the words of Paul / “Therefore I am well CONTENT with my weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

  In the words written about Jesus / “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the JOY set

before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb.12:2). 

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