As children of God we should look back and thank Him, look forward and trust Him, look around and serve Him, look inward and find Him. Desperation is often the starting point to getting a passing grade in Grace 101. Patience is developed, often slowly, by waiting. We need to be patient while the Lord teaches us patience. Too often we try to impress people rather than serve people. When we pray God is more concerned with what our heart feels than what our lips say. Our greatest test of faith is believing God loves us, even when He is not blessing us like we feel He should. Dear Christian, if as the song says, this world is not our home, why do we spend so much time and money building houses in it? About 2000 years ago God had a gift to give me, but Jesus had to die before I could open it. Being God's servant is an honor because He chose me for the position. The spiritual success of my interaction with other people is largely dependent on the intensity and extent of my prior interaction with God.
"So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice." Roman 12:1 CEV As Christians we use the term "Give my life to God," but much of the time we don't really understand how to do it. Our life on this earth consists of time. Therefore, to give a life to God means giving time to God. And time must be given in segments of years, months, weeks, days, hours or minutes. We must determine what God wants us to do today, the next hour, the next ten minutes. Such thinking should not result in a guilt trip if we don't spend every minute in prayer, Bible reading or service to a neighbor. His will for the next eight hours may be going to work and being the best possible employee. Or it may be getting a good night's sleep or washing the dishes or going fishing. But before we do any of these things we must ask "God, is this what you want me to do right now?" Sometimes He will give us a day-long schedule if we ask early in the morning. Consequently only a few hour-by-hour decisions are necessary. But even then we must be open to Him leading us to do something He did not see fit to show us before breakfast. If we give him full minute-to-minute control will He allow some time to rest and play? Absolutely...to the extent that is best for us. While functioning under such control will He sometimes direct us to do some things we would rather not do? For sure...to the extent that is best for us. When we continue to find and carry out God's detailed instructions for becoming and doing, will we be more content and joyous than we are now? Without any doubt!
Recently a copy of the Ten Commandments was hung in each fifth grade classroom in the Middleville Elementary School. Marian, whose parents are Orthodox Jews, asked "Mrs. Johnson, do you go to church on the Sabbath or on Sunday?" "I go on Sunday," her teacher replied. "My daddy says the Sabbath is the right day to worship. The new poster on the wall says we should worship on the Sabbath. Who is wrong, you or my daddy?"
Jimmy's daddy pastors a Pentecostal Full Bible Independent Baptist Church. He asked "Mrs. Johnson, what is a 'graven image' anyway? "Well Jimmy, a graven image is a picture or statue of something that people think looks like God and they worship it instead of God." "Well, my daddy says the Catholics like Susie and Johnny worship the statue of Jesus that is in the front of their church. Do you think my daddy's right, Mrs. Johnson?"
About that time, Robert raised his hand and asked "Mrs. Johnson, what does 'keep it holy' mean on number four?" "It means we are not supposed to work on that day." "Well, golly, my daddy owns the Dairy Queen down on Locust Street. He says Sunday is his best day. Is my Daddy wrong for working on Sunday, Mrs. Johnson?" Just then Mrs Johnson noticed that Saboni, the little dark-skinned girl whose grandparents came to the U.S. from India, was about to cry. "What's wrong, Saboni?" she asked. "I don't know which god you are talking about. My mother and grandmother say there are many gods. You are taking about only one god. Are my mother and grandmother wrong, Mrs. Johnson?" Mulladi, whose father always wore a turban to P.T.A. meetings, spoke up next. "Mrs Johnson, why do you worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath?" "Well, Christians moved the day of worship to Sunday from the Sabbath in order to celebrate when Jesus rose from the dead." "My daddy says that story is a lie. He says Jesus was a good man, but the story of him coming out of the grave is a story made up by his followers. Is my daddy wrong, Mrs Johnson?" Each of the families paid their school taxes. That tax money was being used to promote religious ideas that undermined what they were taught at home. Is this the way Christianity should promote "Honor thy father and mother?"
Public repentance (which preachers often call for from the pulpit) may be more difficult for a Christian than for an unsaved person. This is especially true when that sin was something that directly damaged another person. Such behaviors include adultery, character assassination, robbery and fraud.
A Christian is usually aware an action is sinful before he does it, but he still chooses to do it. He ignores God’s teaching. He knowingly breaks God’s laws. On the other hand, the unsaved may not have been aware of God’s prohibition of a specific action. He had no moral compass to ignore. He can often truthfully say “I did not know it was wrong.”
When the Christian faces his sin He must say “Forgive me, Father. I knew I was sinning and I did it anyway.” The unsaved can approach God with “Forgive me. At the time I really did not know I was sinning.”
A Christian is likely to face public embarrassment in his social circle when he confesses and repents. The unsaved person faces no such condemnation from his friends because to them he was only doing as expected.
Our prior knowledge of good and evil may make repentance after salvation more difficult than our original repentance at the time of our salvation. If we had assurance from fellow Christians that they would be as forgiving and accepting as our Father, repentance would be much easier.
Jesus accepts us each time we return to Him and acknowledge our sins. He instructs us to accept our brothers and sisters just as quickly and completely. He will give us the ability to do so as we lean on Him.
When Jesus returned to heaven, what did He take back as souvenirs of His trip here? Five scars and the assurance He had done his Father’s will.
God’s voice is true and relevant whether He whispers (butterflies, gentle rain, a cat’s purr) or shouts (Niagara Falls, thunder, a hurricane). In all things He is saying “I created. I control. Trust me.”
If I refuse to tell others about God’s grace, if I refuse to share what I know about the grace I have received, then I have received it largely in vain.
As a Christian I take comfort in the fact that God always keeps his word. Can others take comfort from the fact that I will always keep mine?
My love for God is proven by my obedience (Mark 12:31). My love for others is proven by my service. Obey and Serve. It seems simple enough, but after sixty years of Christian life I still struggle to do both.
Every problem in my life is an opportunity for me to allow God to solve that problem in a way that will glorify his name. Why is that so hard to remember?
The most valuable athlete, by word or action, says “Coach, I’m not as good as I want to be. Show me how to get better.” The most valuable employee says the same thing to his boss. The most valuable Christian says those words to God…and means them.
The degree to which I have become holy is indicated by the degree to which I am sharing God’s blessings.
I did not do anything to achieve my salvation but I must do everything in my power to exhibit it every day.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul said the love of God “compels” us. It compelled him to preach the gospel. What specific day-by-day actions am I compelled to carry out because of His love?
When we visit the Grand Canyon we approach it with some degree of reverence and look cautiously into it’s depths. We are impressed with the beauty, majesty, size and age. We realize we are engaging only a small part of the canyon with only a small part of ourselves. After a short visit we walk away, get in our car and move on.
But that is not experiencing the Grand Canyon. We don’t go to the bottom and allow ourselves to be surrounded by it. We don’t permit all our senses to become attuned to its sounds, colors, scent and sights. We don’t explore the side canyons and hidden pockets of splendor. We don’t sit still in the deepest recesses and view the animals and wild flowers. We don’t return throughout the year to view the seasonal changes.
If we really wanted to know the Canyon intimately we would read books about it and hire a guide for each visit. We would physically discipline ourselves to become strong enough to hike from one end to the other. We would stay there for days at a time.
But we don’t. And as a result of our look-over-the-edge-and-move-on visits we know it about like we know God.
We hurry into and out of God’s presence, perhaps impressed with a limited sense of his wisdom, majesty, beauty, size and power. We commit a small part of ourselves to peer cautiously into his Word, all the time knowing there is more. We stop short of a full sensory encounter then walk away content or even feel a little proud of our efforts.
We do not take the time and make the effort to experience God. We do not immerse ourselves and surround ourselves with Him. We refuse to explore the lesser-known facets of his personality. We do not develop the stamina and self-discipline necessary to know his heart. Expecting immediate answers and solutions, we visit Him and then move on before some of his most beautiful, valuable truths can be received. We do not allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide. We may feel his presence for a few minutes but we don’t become intimate with him. We approach God with a tourist mentality.
How can we correct this? We must make forming an intimate relationship with him the number-one priority of our lives. This will require a commitment of our time. Such relationships can not be rushed. We must establish regular times of prayer and Bible study, disciplining ourselves to concentrate of spiritual matters. The joys of experiencing God are available only to those who long for more than a quick, easy, occasional visit.
To win a contest a young American is taken to the south edge of Tokyo where he is given a set of car keys and an address. He is shown a car and told “Deliver this car to that address within the next hour and you will win $1,000,000. It can be done, but only if you take the most direct route.”
He now has four choices:
(1) Jump in the car and start driving, trusting to blind luck.
(2) Buy a city map in the lobby of a near-by hotel and start driving while reading it.
(3) Buy a map and hire a local citizen to give him instructions while he drives.
(4) Hire a driver from the taxi stand and let him do the work.
Throughout our lives we are on a perilous journey across unknown territory. The prize of “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23) is offered to us by our heavenly Father.
We have four choices:
(1) Stumble through each day, hoping to do more good things than bad.
(2) Blunder along, occasionally reading the Bible in search of advice.
(3) Sometimes ask God for guidance as we use the Bible, but stay in control and make all our own decisions.
(4) Allow God to “take the wheel,” then sit back and enjoy the ride.
If we truly believe He loves us, and if we truly believe He is all-powerful and all-knowing, why do we hesitate to give him control of our journey?