Friday, April 26, 2013

Trust God To Guide Your Steps

"A man's steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?"
Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV)

No one likes being uncertain about what to do next.  It can be very frustrating to be in that place where you have questions about what to do, especially when you feel pressured to do something, but you don't know what to do.  One good rule to follow is if you don't know, you don't go.  Making a move before we really know whether or not we should do it is never a good idea.  We need to understand that if God has not told us anything yet then we don't need to know anything yet.  God has given us His Word and we can always go to it and follow what we see there, that is always our starting point.
We must realize that God is a good God who loves us even more than we know.  While some people believe that God is mysterious and He is somehow aloof and does not really care about us, the reality is that He is far wiser and more intelligent than we are and there are times we really don't need to know some of the things we think we need to know.  When the time is right God will make clear to us what we need to know, what we need to do, and how we need to do it.  God knows our life and the path we are taking and even if we don't understand what is going on He does.
What can we do when we are in the place of wanting to take a step but we don't know what step to take?  If God is not giving us any specific direction then we should keep doing the basic things that we do know to do.  Stay with the general will of God while you are waiting for steps in the specific will of God.  Keep your mind focused on what you do know to do and not on the questions you don't have the answers to.  Spend time reading and studying God's Word and talking to God in prayer.  Doing all of these things will keep you in the right position so that when you do need to know what God wants to tell you, you will be ready to receive it and move forward with the plan of God.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What Do You Say About Yourself?

"And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself? He said: "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord,"' as the prophet Isaiah said.""
John 1:21-23 (NKJV)

John the Baptist was a man sent by God to help prepare the way for Jesus.  When John the Baptist started his ministry there was some natural curiosity about him; who is this man and why is he doing what is he doing?  People heard John speak and they saw what he did but they wanted a direct answer from the man himself.  The religious leaders of the day sent a group to John to ask him, "Who are you, what do you say about yourself?"  This is a good question for us today as well.

When John the Baptist gave the answer about who he was, notice what he did not say.  John did not talk about his family background, his financial status, his level of education, or his life experiences.  When John responded to the question about who he was, John focused on what he was doing for God.  John had the emphasis in the right place; he realized that his relationship with God and what he did in his life for God was the most important thing.  It is also interesting to see that John connected what he was doing with something from the Bible; it is good to find our identity and purpose from God and His Word.

What you say about yourself is very important and it identifies who you are.  What others say about you and what others think about you does not matter as much as what you say and think about yourself.  Our question today is the same question that was asked of John the Baptist, who are you and what do you say about yourself?  The devil will try to stir up problems in our life and confront us with questions about our identity of who we are and what we are doing.  Knowing the answer to these questions will help us succeed in life; we need to know who we are in Christ.

Friday, April 12, 2013

With God, It’s Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

When I was in high school I used to compete in various running events.  There were always three parts to the race, the start, the actual race, and the finish.  When they lined everyone up at the start of the race, some people were in better positions than others but I don't remember anyone ever crying because of where they started.  Even during the race itself, someone might not have been in the best position in the middle of the race but that did not really matter either, what mattered is where you finished the race.

The Apostle Paul did not start out well; he was actually fighting against God's plan and the spread of the Gospel before he became a Christian.  When he wrote his second letter to Timothy, Paul knew that the end of his physical life was near.  Did Paul talk about his regrets from the past and all of the mistakes he had made?  Did Paul say that he wished he would have been born into a better situation or that he could not succeed because he did not have some advantages that others had in life?  No, Paul talked about how he had finished the race God had given him to run, even though he did not start out in the best position.

No one starts out in a perfect situation with every advantage in life; no one has a problem free existence.  We should not look back at our past but instead realize that no matter where we start, or even where we are now, we can finish strong.  We may have come from a bad family or a bad economic situation, but we don't have to stay there.  It does not matter where you were born, what matters is that you were born again and that you have a loving heavenly Father who wants to help you.  Do like Paul did and fight the good fight of faith and overcome all of the obstacles in your path so that one day you too can say that you have finished the race God gave you to run.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Are You Like The Bereans Or The Athenians?

"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing."
Acts 17:10, 11, 21 (NKJV)

In Acts 17 there is a story about two groups of people, the Bereans and the Athenians.  Both groups had the opportunity to hear the teachings of the Apostle Paul.  The thing is that each group seemed to have a different way of doing things and I think that both groups are similar to what we see with Christians today.  One group, the Bereans, received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures to see if what they heard was accurate.  The other group, the Athenians, spent all their time either telling or hearing about something new.

It is a sad but true statement that many Christians are more like the Athenians than the Bereans.  So often Christians are more interested in hearing and telling about some "new" thing than they are about searching the Scriptures daily to see if what they hear is true.  It is interesting to see that the people who were diligent to search the Scriptures to check the validity of what they were hearing were the same people that the Bible describes as being ready to receive the Word of God.  It would seem that the more you are focused on God's Word the more ready you are to receive what it has to say.

If all we do is look for what is "new" we will get into trouble.  Our goal is not intellectual stimulation but spiritual growth through the truth of God's Word.  We may hear some things that are new to us but if they are right and true we will find the basis for these "new" things in the written Word of God.  Don't just go after whatever seems to be new and exciting.  Be like the Bereans and make sure to check up on what you are hearing, is it really teaching and truth from the Bible or not?  If we keep ourselves firmly grounded in the Word of God we will stay stable and steady in an ever changing world of "new" ideas.