Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Way Forward Is Backwards

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

From regional trains, that stop at every town, to the high-speed Intercity Express trains, there are different kinds of trains that operate within Germany.  I have passed through the city of Stuttgart several times as I have traveled to cities in the southern part of Germany.  The first time I took this trip I was a little surprised, because once you get to Stuttgart to pick up and drop off passengers you then leave the station traveling in the direction that you just came from.  The first time this happened I was a bit shocked, but I soon realized that the train was just making its way out of the station and not really going the wrong direction.

When we are traveling somewhere we usually have an idea of where we are going and we would normally check the travel options to find the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get to our destination.  But, our path in life is not like a trip to some natural location.  As we follow God and the plan He has for our life there will be times that we are not really able to figure out exactly how the direction we are going now will take us to where we want to go.  Sometimes to get to where we need to be it seems like God will first take us backwards before we go forwards.

It is really not possible for us to understand everything about the direction God has for our life.  If we could understand everything on our own we would not need God and we would not have to walk by faith, as the Bible shows us (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Since God is the One who leads and directs us, it should not be too surprising that we can't always figure out for ourselves exactly how the steps we take today will lead us into the bright future that God has planned for us.  To be able to get to where we need to go in our life and to do the things we need to do we must learn to trust God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Walking In Love Is Always Appropriate

"Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end] ..."
1 Corinthians 13:8a (AMPC)

Have you ever been to a party or some event where when you arrived you realized that everyone else was dressed in a different style than you were?  Maybe you thought it was a very casual event but you found out that everyone else was dressed up.  It might be that no one told you what the right style of clothing was, or maybe some notice was given about what to wear and somehow you did not find out.  No matter how it happens, it is always a bit uncomfortable to find out that what you are wearing, or even what you are doing or saying, does not fit in and is not appropriate.

Not wearing the right type of clothing can be uncomfortable, but it is not the end of the world, acting inappropriately or saying something that is out of line is another thing all together.  Unfortunately, there is not one perfect set of clothes you can wear that will always fit in and be appropriate, but there is a way that we can be sure that what we do and say will be appropriate in every situation, that is by walking in the love of God.  In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul talks about the love of God and he shows us what it looks like by giving us a clear definition of what love is and how we can and should act to display God's love to everyone, in every situation.

If we learn to walk in love by following the guidelines given in the Bible, and by looking for ways to do things that will help and build up others, then we will always say and do the right things at the right time.  No matter what the circumstance, walking in love is always appropriate, the love of God fits and works in every situation.  And the good news is that as Christians we can walk in love because the love of God is in us (Romans 5:5).  By walking in the love of God and allowing it to be what motivates us, we can be assured that what we say and do will always be good, right, and appropriate.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Way To Success

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Success is something that nearly everyone is striving for in some way.  About the only people who are not looking for success are those who don't believe it is possible for them to succeed in life.  For some people, success means reaching a certain goal or achievement, and for others, success would mean getting out of their present negative situation into something better.  Whatever the case, most people want to have success and no one likes to fail.  Today there are many books and programs available that claim to help people find success, but many people still do not find it.

Although not everyone actually believes it, God wants people to succeed.  While the meaning of success may differ in the minds of some people, God wants everyone to do well and live a life of success and well-being.  But, a life of success is not the goal, it is really the result of following God's plan for our life and things working the way that they should as we follow God.  People often make the mistake of pursuing the idea of success without realizing that by doing this they are putting the result ahead of the method and thereby hindering themselves from the success they desire.

In the Bible, God gives us the real plan for success that anyone can follow. After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of the nation of Israel.  God showed Joshua that the way to success was through knowing, speaking, and doing the Word of God.  To succeed Joshua needed to know what God had said so that he could do what God had said, and he could then say what God had said.  No matter what area of life we need to succeed in, the way to success is the same for us as it was for Joshua: we need to know, speak, and do the Word.  By following God's direction, Joshua was able to succeed and we can too!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Border Test

"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters."
Luke 11:23 (NKJV)

Several years ago, a member of the United States government made an interesting comment about being able to know what a country is like by doing what he called a "border test".  This official said it would be interesting to see what would happen if you dropped the borders of a nation, to see if people go in to or out of that country; if there were no restrictions which way would people go?  That is an interesting question as some countries have many, many people doing anything they can to get into them, while other countries have very few, if any, people who want to go there.

No matter where we live, or what country we originally come from, we can also do a sort of border test with ourselves.  Generally speaking, do we attract more people to what we are doing or do we repel people?  More specifically, do we attract people to Jesus, the Church, God's Word, and Christianity in general, or do we drive people away and make them want to go as far as possible from anything remotely connected to spiritual things?  Jesus made it very clear that no one really rides on the fence, you either help to gather people to Him or you scatter people away from Him.

In the Bible, we see that believers make up the Body of Christ on the earth today; God will work through us to reach people.  But, if our actions, attitudes, and words drive people away from the things of God, then that is not good.  We need to do all we can to be the light of the world that Jesus spoke of to draw people to Him.  We are either helping to bring people closer to God or driving them away.  God wants us to be successful, happy, and healthy for more than just our own personal benefit.  God wants us to be a living display of His love and goodness to draw others to Him.