On Monday, I wrote about the wrath of God. Yesterday’s post quoted Joe Rogan, who said, “[D]iscomfort is your friend.” An hour and a half later, Radio 1000 played the following sermon, which combined the two and confirmed that I’m still saying what God wants me to say.
“It is hard for me to kick against the pricks,” said James Davis, an elder at New Spirit Revival Center in Akron, quoting Acts. “That word prick there, in the Greek, is the word ‘ox goad,’ which is a farm tool, as it were. It’s a pole or a stick with a metal end or an iron end. It’s used to push and prod the oxen to move in the direction that the farmer [wanted] them to go. The farmer would now poke the animal — he would prick the animal — in order to steer him or move him in the right direction. It is a tool to maneuver. As he’s plowing the field, the ox needs direction.
“Has anybody in here felt a pricking and a prodding in your own life? … Sometimes, that discomfort you are feeling is the answer to your prayer. You prayed for God to direct you, you prayed for him to guide you, you said, ‘God, become my Jehovah Rohi,’ and now you begin to feel a prick, as it were. You begin to feel a nudge, and that nudge is not always comfortable.
“We have the Psalms 23 picture of being led by Jehovah Rohi, or our shepherd leading us, beside still waters and green pastures, but sometimes he is not leading us with just his shepherd’s voice. Sometimes the lord has to lead us … with a swat from the shepherd’s crook. The shepherd carries a crook, as it were. It’s a hooked staff, and now he will begin to prod or he will begin to swat the sheep in order to get them into a place of obedience.
“Sometimes he uses the crook to grab them by the leg or even sometimes by the neck to pull us out of danger. Why? Because there are predators that are out there that we may not see. Many times we are in danger — we don’t even know how close we are to the impending doom and danger that is around us because sometimes we think the wolf is our friend. … We think the wolf is a puppy that we can walk up to like it’s a dog — a domesticated dog and I can have, somehow, a relationship with this thing.
“But the chief shepherd has an advantage that we do not have. He has a sight — a foresight — that we do not have, he sees what we do not see. And from time to time he will do what is necessary to us to move us into greener pastures and still waters. But you have to come through a terrible wilderness first. There are some processes before you get to the place of still waters and green pastures. And we grow comfortable, many times, in wanderings and grinding and grist mills like Samson, but God pricks us so that we don’t become complacent in wanderings, [and] we begin to move into the next place.
“The shepherd sees what we don’t see. The farmer pricks the ox in order to steer it, but sometimes the animal rebels. Sometimes the ox rebels. And the way the ox would rebel is he would kick his hind leg back. I don’t want to be moved. I want to go my own way. … But all the farmer would do is hold the prick there. He’s not jabbing this animal. He’s holding the prick in place, and now that animal is harming himself as he kicks. Every time he kicks now, he begins to tear and poke at his flesh … [and] the prick being driven further into the animal’s flesh is saying that the more that the ox rebelled against the pricking or the changing of direction, the more it suffered. The more it kicks against the will of the farmer, the more that animal is suffering and bleeding. As much as we want to always blame the devil for what we are going through, the truth is that it’s not the devil and neither is it God that’s putting us through some of this stuff. …
“It’s not the devil. I know we want to blame him. … But just because you hit your toe in the middle of the night, you blame the devil for putting the bed in the middle of the room. You set the bed up, you had the light out, but, no, it was the devil.
“And then we say, when I’m going through a hard time, ‘God is taking me through this.’ Sometimes that’s true, but many times that ain’t it either. Sometimes we are going through some pain because we have put our own self in those positions. Like the rebellious ox that does not want to change direction when he is pricked, our pain mostly is self-inflicted. The ox would say, ‘My owner is kicking me.’ The owner is saying, ‘No, you are bloodying yourself.’
“We want God’s direction and blessing and favor, but we want it our own way. That’s why Jesus tells Saul, ‘It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.’ He said, ‘It’s hard for you. You’re making your own way hard.’ He says, ‘You are rebelling against my will,’ as it were. That kicking against the lord’s will … we are kicking against what’s better for us. He is saying, ‘I’m getting you to go into another direction because I’m trying to do something better and greater in you and through you. I’m trying to get you something better.’ But doing it or getting there is difficult.
“The greatest enemy of destiny, child of God, is not the devil. It’s comfort. … You don’t waltz into destiny. You don’t go comfortably into destiny. No, it’s going to cost you something. If God made you a promise — if there is a prophesy over your life — it is going to cost you some pain sometimes, some discomfort, but many times we want to say that this or that is holding me back. No, the enemy of destiny is pain avoidance — rather than being comfortably busy, we’d rather be busy and not making any progress.
“If you do what is easy, child of God, your life will be hard. But if you do what is hard, your life will be easy. Many times, kingdom folks, we want to take the easy way out and think that God’s just going to open up everything for us and we never grow in that process. God is interested in blessing you. He wants to move you into the promised land. But he wants to grow you up at the same time.
“In other words, the lord is saying, ‘I’m not moving. … I’m not moving my will. I’m not changing my will.’ And some would say that’s cruel and unusual punishment that the farmer doesn’t move the prick when he sees blood splashing from the oxen’s leg. … [I]t seems to me that he would move the ox goad to stop hurting the oxen that he cares for and that is valuable to him. But he doesn’t move it because the farmer allows the oxen — if he allows him to get away with it just one time — if he allows him to continue to rebel and be stubborn and not move in the direction that he’s directing him, it plants a seed of behavior in the oxen. It develops a behavior pattern in him that … all I have to do is kick, and now my master will change his will.
“Many times, the saints … think if I just pout or if I just stay in this, God will pity me and change his will because if I swim in my pity party, the lord will come and have mercy on me. And God in this season, in this hour, I am finding he is saying just like the farmer, ‘I’m not moving my will. I’m looking for obedience out of you.’ He says, ‘I’m not going to change my mind because if I let you get away with it … all that [I] will wind up with is a stubborn beast that doesn’t want to function to the level of his potential.’
“We really don’t understand these proverbs — these lessons — in this hour because … parenting has become so soft. I was talking to somebody the other day in an Uber and we just got to talking about it’s a whole lot different now. It’s a whole lot different. The stuff we see — there’s zero discipline almost. I’m like, ‘Who’s raising who?’
“We started trading horror stories about [our] parents coming up to schools and stuff. And now parents come up to the school and want to fight the teacher. I didn’t [grow] up like that. [If my mom showed up in her housecoat with the snaps on it, it was going to be ‘Death at a Funeral.’ I was going to get killed.] But this generation has gotten soft. When the kid whines or they don’t want to do what you tell them to do, we change our will because we want to be comfortable. We change our will because we don’t want to see them hurt or pout or cry. [But] the wise man taught us in Proverbs 19:18:
“We don’t want to hear our sons and daughters cry, but God does not care about your tears. See, we want God to act like these 21st century parents, where he now moves his will because we’re in tears or we’re hurt or we’re suffering some loss, but God is saying, ‘I don’t care about your tears,’ and he really doesn’t care about the ones that are a product of self-inflicted rebellion when he has been long-provoking us to change.”