This week I am taking a break and taking our oldest son up to Liberty University for College for a Weekend, or “CFAW” as they like to call it. We drove up from South Georgia, leaving at 3am and arriving about 12 hours later due to a 2 hour hold up in Atlanta for a traffic accident. Even with the bad traffic, I realized that it was a special day- just my oldest son and I in a car for hours. We enjoyed talking about different things, laughed, and even shared a little road rage together LOL. It was something that I will always have as a memory and remember warmly for years to come. No computers, internet, etc. to bother us- just an open road (most of the time) and conversation. Nothing ground shaking happened- we didn’t solve the world’s problems, he didn’t have a miraculous decision on a major, I didn’t learn patience while driving- we just enjoyed being together as Father and Son. We arrived and went through check-in and I helped carry his things to his dorm room he will be sharing for the weekend with some current Liberty students. Up to this time, it had not really settled in that this is a dress rehearsal for a few months down the road when I will do this for real. My wife and I will drive our son to college- not for a weekend- but for a new chapter in life in which we will continue as a divided family. He will stay and pursue the calling God has put on his life and we will return to our home to continue to raise the other 2 sons that God has put in our care and trust. It’s exciting, it’s stressful, it’s scary, it’s sad- it’s life. As I walked away and left him yesterday I realized he is becoming the young Godly man that we have prayed for all our lives. I left a man desiring to get a glimpse of his future in a few months, Lord willing. A man that desires to follow God and know His will. A man that is more interested in the facts of God’s Word and promises than the fallacy of the world. I am a proud father- and I give all glory and honor to Jesus Christ who hold us all in His hand. Sunday I will pick him up and we will begin our trip back home after spending the night with our friends. I don’t know what the future holds for my son, but I do know my heavenly Father does and He is in charge of it. What a relief it is to know all of this is out of our hands. All I have to do is look forward to the days ahead and the drive home.
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*We live in a world of rebellion today.
-Anti-authority (parents, school, work, etc.)
*Rebellion is glamorized in Hollywood, music, etc.
*Why is it so easy do disobey? How do you feel when you act in disobedience?
-The Bible speaks of there being “pleasure in sin for a season”
-It makes you dull to the things of God.
-When realized it makes you very depressed and defeated.
*Today, let’s look at Obedience and how it affects our Christian Walk.
I. Obedience defined
a. What do you consider to be “obedience”?
i. Following orders from parents, employers, spouses, etc.?
ii. Abiding by laws of our nation and government?
iii. What about doing what God says to do?????
b. “Obedience is doing what those in authority request or want. It is the opposite of ‘doing your own thing’. True obedience involves doing what an authority wants immediately, respectfully, joyfully, and completely. Obedience requires the submission of the will of the individual to those in charge. True obedience ultimately stems from submission to God.” John Stormer
II. What is God’s attitude regarding obedience?
a. Obedience is better than sacrifice. I Samuel 15:22
b. David was a very obedient person and is described by God as “a man after mine own heart.” Acts 13:22
c. Obedience is one of the most important words in Scripture!
III. What is God’s attitude regarding disobedience?
a. Rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft. 1 Samuel 15:23
b. Mosaic law required stoning to death for rebellion! Deuteronomy 21:18-21
c. God takes disobedience very seriously.
IV. The source of true obedience.
a. Jesus says: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
b. “If a man loves me, he will keep my words.” John 14:23
c. God’s commandments are not grievous. I John 5:3
d. “We love him, because he first loved us.” I John 4:19
V. Promises and blessings related to obedience:
a. I John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
b. If we live in disobedience, we do not love Jesus as we should, and therefore our prayers can be hindered.
c. John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
d. When we are obedient, we live in the love of Christ. What a blessing!
e. Matthew 6:31-33 promises that when we put God first and follow in obedience there will be three things that are taken care of: food, water, clothing.
f. John 15:14 says that obedience makes us a friend of Christ! “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
g. When we obey God’s Word, the love of God is perfected in our lives according to I John 2:5 “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
h. James 1:22 says that if we hear only and do nothing, we deceive ourselves!
i. Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus compares an obedient life to that of a wise man.
VI. The attitude in Obedience
a. We must remember that it is AGAINST human sinful nature to obey.
b. Only through training in God’s Word and the Spirit’s work do we become better at it. So- we MUST have the right attitude!
c. Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” It needs to be a DELIGHT for us to obey God!
d. A common saying is “Obedience is doing what you are told, when you are told, and with a right attitude”.
e. Deuteronomy 26:16 says that we are to obey with our whole heart and soul.
i. Not like when parents asked us to take out the trash or clean our room when we were young!
ii. When we obey with actions and rebel with our heart that is not obedience.
f. Joshua 1:7 requires us to be strong and very courageous.
i. There are times it is very tough to be obedient to God and His Word from a worldly, human standpoint.
ii. Who wants to be shot, tortured, or martyred for simply having a Bible and trying to learn and follow God’s Word?
iii. How would our practices RIGHT NOW in regards to prayer, devotion, witnessing, etc. change if we had persecuti0n and torture right here in our own city?
1. Are we doing enough to even get caught?
2. Could they tell us apart from any other person?
3. Example: showing kindness to strangers, praying publicly before meals, handing out gospel tracts, participating in Lifechain, etc.?
g. We should obey quickly and not delay! David said in Psalms 119:60 ” I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”
h. Luke 5:4-7 is the story of the disciples and fishing. They are commanded to let down their nets on the other side even though they had caught nothing to this point.
i. Sometimes- it will seem useless to follow God’s commandments from a human standpoint!
ii. When God’s Word contradicts our own judgment- FOLLOW GOD!
i. Matthew 21:28-31 is the story of the two sons working in the vineyard. One repented and went after saying NO, the other said YES but never went.
i. Good intentions alone are NOT sufficient for obedience!
ii. Remember it requires both our heart and soul.
VII. What are some areas of God-directed obedience?
a. There is a God-given chain of authority that has nothing to do with equality, value, or worth!
i. God the Father-God the Son-Husband-Wife-Children
ii. The Lord Jesus was an obedient son!
1. Obedient to the Father’s will. John 6:38,39
2. Obedient unto death. John 10:30
3. Obedient to earthly parents. Luke 2:51
4. All the while NOT in any way being unequal with God the Father! John 10:30 “I and my Father are one”
b. Five areas of Authority requiring Christian Obedience:
i. Marriage. The wife is to submit to the Husband. Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:1-6.
ii. Home. Children are to obey their Parents. Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20
iii. Work. Servants are to be obedient to their masters. Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22.
iv. Society. Every citizen is to be subject to higher powers. Romans 13:1-7
v. Church. Every member is to submit to those that have the rule over them. Hebrews 13:7,17
vi. We are to obey in these areas with the same attitude as we would obey God! YET- aren’t these the biggest areas of REBELLION today?
1. Husbands don’t follow God – wives don’t follow husbands – children don’t follow parents.
2. Militant unions; anarchists; terrorists.
3. Church splits, church bosses, members who resist authority.
VIII. What about MY obedience?
a. What is my responsibility to authority?
i. Romans 13:1-7 says that I am to fear, give tribute, follow custom, and honor offices of government.
ii. Hebrews 13:7-17 says that I am to obey and submit to Pastoral authority.
iii. I Peter 2 talks about submitting to Kings, Governors, etc. Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king, servants being subject to masters, etc.
iv. The golden rule for understanding spiritual things is not intellect, but obedience!
1. John 7:17 “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine”
2. We disobey and wonder why we don’t grow spiritually.
b. What do we need to work on today?
i. Obedience to God’s Word in our daily life? (What we say, how we act)
ii. Obedience within the framework of marriage and home?
iii. Obedience within framework of Church? Government? Work
This week’s lesson is a simple question for every Christian- What are some things we need to get done here on earth before we meet our Saviour?
Recent movies, books, discussions have focused on a “bucket list” for your life- things you want to get done or experience before you die.
It is not a bad idea- BUT- is there a more important “bucket list”? An ULTIMATE “bucket list”?
There is a list of things that every believer should want to accomplish before they meet their Savior!
Today we will talk about a few- there are probably many more!
What would you put on your Spiritual “bucket list”?
Remember- Salvation is the MOST important decision in life! Today we are speaking about things for the believer- those who already know the Lord, have been baptized, and are members of a Bible teaching Local New Testament Church.
THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST:
1. Have a consistent clean account with the Lord
a. We live our lives in such a way that we immediately confess sin when the Spirit brings it to our attention.
b. Spurgeon said: “keep short accounts with God”.
c. This first item envelopes our entire Christian walk as a whole- to have lived a Godly life as much as is in us!
d. I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
2. Complete God’s will for your life
a. We all have a plan for our lives written by an almighty God!
b. What do you feel the Lord calling you to do?
c. Have you made taking steps to fulfill His will for your life a PRIORITY?
d. It’s never too late to start.
e. Matthew 20- workers in the vineyard- started different times but all received same reward.
3. Read God’s Word through in its entirety!
a. This is NOT a race to say you did it in a certain amount of time.
b. Quality time reading and meditating on God’s Word from start to finish.
c. Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
d. Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
e. God’s Word can keep us out of TROUBLE! We must know what it says for it to help us!
4. Have a CONSISTENT personal Prayer and Devotion time every day.
a. The hustle and bustle of life can make this very hard.
b. We must find time to spend with God every day.
c. As the old saying goes- if we are too busy to spend time with God then we are too busy!
d. Make a priority of spending daily time- get up early, stay up late, lunch breaks, driving, whatever it takes to get into a deeper relationship with the Lord.
e. George Mueller- Evangelist, Missionary, worked with Orphans. Read his Bible through over 200 times and half of those were on his knees! He documented over 50,000 specific answers to prayer that were made to God alone and no one else!
5. Actively take a role in your Church- take responsibility and do something!
a. There are SO MANY things that need to be done within a church fellowship! Have you ever helped?
b. It involves your time! But it is so worth the reward.
c. Nursery, Vacation Bible School, Teach a class, Help with a Bible Study, S.O.W. ministry, choir, special music, greeters, ushers, etc.
d. Pray about and commit to a few things that you can do very well. You can’t do it all!
6. Lead someone to Christ
a. Most times, this involves having to pour into someone’s life- getting to know them and developing a trust to share the Gospel.
b. Sometimes it can be a spontaneous moment that the Spirit lays on your heart to immediately approach and present someone with the Gospel.
c. In any case- are YOU willing to step out in Faith to do this?
d. Remember we have a command to share the Good News.
e. Start by giving out tracts, leave for waitress, gas pumps, store clerks, etc.
f. Look for ways to develop deeper friendships with neighbors, co-workers, etc.
7. See your entire immediate family come to Christ.
a. Every one of us should desire to see our kids, spouses, parents, siblings come to know Christ before they or we come before the Lord!
b. What active steps are we taking to help proclaim God’s love and redemption to them?
c. Our kids- are we taking every chance we get to reinforce God’s PERSONAL offer of salvation that they must decide for themselves? Start when they are born praying for them to know Christ early in their life!
d. Claim God’s Word- pray for salvation for the souls of your family.
e. Reminder- don’t do, say, or live in a way that detracts from the Holy Spirit working in their life!
f. Live a testimony that shows them an authentic, changed, joyful, and peaceful person!
8. Suffer for Christ
a. This comes in many different ways.
b. Be willing to suffer shame, mocking, berating for a stand we take for Christ and His Word.
c. Is there ever a time that we have given up something great that would have been ours yet it violated Scripture OR we were led by the Spirit to not accept and we refused?
d. Sometimes it involves getting out of our comfort zone- taking a BOLD stand! (Life Chain)
e. 2 Titus 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
9. Be a CONSISTENT tither to the Lord’s work
a. How many unnecessary bills have been paid with God’s money? (remember it’s ALL God’s!!!)
b. How many vacations, boats, cars, jewelry, guns, etc. have been purchased with money that should have been tithed to the Lord?
c. There is no justification for not tithing! There is NOTHING we can use as an excuse.
d. It’s stealing from the God who allows us to have everything we do right now!
e. Are we so UNTHANKFUL and UNGRATEFUL and UNTRUSTING that we can’t trust God to supply our needs if we give Him the small amount He asks?
f. Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
g. My family has seen this over and over and over again. God is true to His word.
10. Personally get involved with Missions
a. Participate in a short or long term mission if at all possible. (even if it is after we retire!)
b. Consider taking a vacation to serve if possible!
c. There are local and long distance missions- find something that you can do.
d. Don’t forget children’s homes, homeless shelters, soup kitchens- they all have hurting people!
e. Write letters, pray, call, email, encourage our missionaries.
f. Take time to get to know them personally.
g. Stop by and read the bulletin board each month – so you know how to pray.
h. Take note of the missionary spot light- use that as a weekly prayer tool.
i. Don’t forget our missions table in the back of the sanctuary!
j. Financially take a part in supporting Missions.
k. Take the PRIVILEGE of feeding or hosting a missionary when in town!
l. I have some project ideas for 2016 for our class! Stay tuned!
11. Be Physically, Mentally, and Financially Healthy- these SUPPORT a good testimony to the world!
a. We know it’s the temple of the Lord- we should do more to take care of it.
b. 1 Timothy 4:8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having provise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
c. Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
d. I think there is balance between these two verses.
e. There are so many benefits to healthy living- we should take time to do our best to make wise decisions in our nutrition and exercise.
f. Mentally we should desire to be healthy, not stressed, panicked, etc.
g. Remember to cast our care upon the Lord- trust in Him for direction.
h. A personal goal of us all should to NOT leave debt for our kids.
i. We should also desire to live debt free in order to better support God’s Work.
j. We should have an emergency financial plan. More to come next year on that.
k. Be a faithful steward.
l. Set goals and PRAY and DO! We have to do our part if we trust God to do His.
12. See MIGHTY answer to prayer!
a. We are talking MIRACLES here!
b. We should have great answers to prayer that have no explanation other than “God did”!
c. Look for ways to pray in faith for God to show His mighty Hand so that we can give Him the glory and honor!
d. Use our triumphs as testimony to an almighty God.
e. I am cancer free today! That is a wonderful testimony to a God that answers prayer!
f. Daniel 11:32 “…ut the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.”
g. Matthew 19:26 “…ith men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
h. Psalm 81:10 “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
i. Keepiing a journal/prayer journal is a great way to remember what God has done for you when you are going through tough times.
13. Practice Sacrificial giving
a. Look to the Lord’s guidance on this and be willing to obey.
b. Important to be honest to your debts and not use bill money for something UNLESS you have clear leading from the Lord to do so. (A bad testimony to never pay bills but be seen putting extra money into church and other needs)
c. Reminder that if you aren’t tithing, then this really doesn’t apply to you because you need to honor God with that first!
d. Have you ever given up vacation, rainy day money, etc. to fill a need God placed on your heart?
e. The poor seems to be better at this than we are- they will share food when they don’t have it, money when they don’t have it, etc.
f. If you really want it to be sacrificial- there may be times when it is ANONYMOUS.
g. Remember whatever we do- do it with JOY!
14. Establish a Legacy
a. What heritage are we leaving our children? Grandchildren? Greatgrandchildren?
b. Proverbs 22:28 “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”
c. Will it be said of us- He/She followed Christ? He/She was faithful?
d. Will our church family miss us when we are gone? Will there be a hole to fill?
e. Be a compassionate and dependable Friend
i. Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
ii. Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
iii. Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…
iv. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
f. Be a stellar spouse
i. Song of Solomon 4:10-11 “How fair is thy love…my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine! And the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips…rop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.”
ii. WOW! The spouse has great love, smells good, is affectionate, has kind words, and has clean clothes!
iii. Are we guilty of trying to look good for everyone else but our spouse? Do they get 2nd best because we are so tired of having to impress everyone else?
iv. Proverbs 18:22 “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”
v. Proverbs 19:14 “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
vi. Proverbs 12:4 “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”
vii. Proverbs 31 woman! Prov 31:11 “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…
viii. Proverbs 31:28 “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
g. Be a wise parent
i. This only comes through being grounded in God’s Word and raising kids God’s way.
ii. Proverbs 5:7 “Here me now therefore, o ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.”
iii. Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”
h. Be a responsible child
i. Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” There is no age limit mentioned here!
ii. Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Again… No age limit mentioned here!
iii. I Timothy 5:4 “But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to REQUITE their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.”
iv. We should care for our parents- no matter what they have done to us, no matter what we have to sacrifice- it is our duty to the very best of our ability to see they are cared for.
The Christian’s Bucket List…
???What else would you put on your list?
???What things do you need to work on?
This week, we look again at how to know God’s will for your life. There are boundless resources on the internet, in commentaries, and above all IN GOD’S WORD on this subject! I have studied several discussions, lessons, sermons, etc. and what follows is the culmination and summary of the “golden apples” from all the orchards of study helps! I hope you find something to help you on your walk with the Lord.
GOD’S WRITTEN WILL – THE BEST PLACE TO START!
A. God’s written will is already recorded in Black and White for us!
a. This is the best place for any Christian to start looking for God’s will for their life!
b. If we are unwilling to follow God’s general, recorded will- He will NOT make known His specific will to us.
c. God’s will can be in Positive AND Negative commands!
i. Negative: 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…”; “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”; “Be not drunk with wine…”
ii. Positive: “Go ye into all the world…”; “Pray without ceasing…”; “Be filled with the spirit”
B. God has already outlined 6 clear traits for each and every life. We need to make sure that we are meeting all 6 of these attributes in our life in order to have a clearer picture of God’s specific unspoken will for our life!
i. 2 Peter 3:9 God “is not willing that any should perish…”
ii. If you aren’t a believer- a child of God- you are not even able to have a relationship or fellowship with Him so you could NEVER know the will of God for your life.
i. 1 Thess 4:3 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”
ii. We are to be set apart and be Holy for God.
iii. We are to be holy in actions, word, dress, attitude, etc.
iv. If we are not trying to live and represent Christ, then it will be hard to know and discern God’s will for your life.
i. 1 Peter 2:13-15 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…for so is the will of God…”
ii. We honor God by honoring the authority He has ordained.
iii. We should have a servant’s heart!
1. Husband/Wife relationship
2. Parent/Child relationship
3. Employer/Employee relationship
4. Pastor/Church member relationship
i. Ephesians 5:17 “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
ii. We need the filling of the Spirit in our lives to know God’s will.
iii. When we are filled with the Spirit, we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit and better able to be controlled to make the right decisions as related to God’s will for our lives.
e. SUFFERING IN YOUR STAND FOR CHRIST
i. 2 Timothy 3:12 All who will live godly will suffer persecution.
ii. If we aren’t ever in a position where we suffer for Christ, then we need to check our Spiritual walk! As mentioned by the Pastor- you have to give up/forfeit things here on earth to serve Christ the way He intends!
f. SAYING THANKS
i. I Thessalonians 5:18 “…in EVERYTHING give thanks…”
ii. God wants us to have a GRATEFUL spirit!
iii. Being thankful for all of God’s blessings will affect every area of our life.
iv. Thank Him in the valleys and on the mountain tops!
GOD’S UNWRITTEN WILL
*After we have committed to doing the written will of God found in His Word- then we can focus
on God’s unwritten will for our life!
A. Prerequisites for Guidance
a. We must be obedient to God’s written will found in His Word. If we won’t follow His written commandments, why should He reveal anything new to us?
b. We must be willing to DO God’s will before He ever shows it to us!
i. It’s not a “let me see and I’ll decide” kind of thing.
ii. Saul in Acts 9:6 said “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?”
iii. We need that kind of submission to God and His will for our lives.
iv. God’s will is not a menu that we pick from to add to our own personal plans.
v. John 10:10 “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”
vi. We should want all the great things God has planned for us!
B. 7 Signposts that we can follow in discovering God’s specific will
a. Signpost #1 The Word of God
i. Psalm 119:105 The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.
ii. God will never lead us contrary to what His Word says.
b. Signpost #2 Prayer
i. James 1:5 states that if we lack wisdom, we are to ask of God and he will give it to us.
ii. Many times you may pray and as you continue to pray you feel the Spirit moving you towards or away from a situation.
c. Signpost #3 Godly Counsel
i. Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
ii. We need good GODLY Counselors in our life! Men/Women who believe and follow the Word of God. They can help give us practical advice through leading of the Spirit.
d. Signpost #4 Circumstances
i. Recognize that God does OPEN and CLOSE doors.
ii. There are times when we will have the peace of continuing or changing directions as we seek God’s will amidst our circumstances.
e. Signpost #5 Common Sense
i. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
ii. God states that we can have a disciplined, self-controlled mind.
iii. Are we controlling our thoughts? Garbage in = Garbage out
f. Signpost #6 Personal Desires and Giftedness
i. God does not wish to make us do things that are very unattractive or very uninteresting!
ii. God has given us all certain abilities, interests, and gifts.
iii. God will most likely lead you according to the abilities He has given you!
iv. Psalms 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
v. If we are delighted in following the Lord, we will have God-placed desires in our heart.
g. Signpost #7 Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit
i. Romans 8:14-16 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…”
ii. If we are in the correct relationship and fellowship with God, we should have clear leading.
iii. Isaiah 26:3 God says He will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee BECAUSE he trusteth in thee.”
iv. Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
v. We should let God’s peace govern our lives!
vi. Just remember! We should consider all the sign posts and allow the peace of God to be the capstone! We should never just go on “the heart alone” because we know according to Jeremiah 17:9 it can be very deceitful.
C. PRAYER AND GUIDANCE
a. Remember- a prayerless life can never be a God-guided life.
b. Problems with habitual prayer:
i. Difficulty finding a daily period immune from invasion of our busy, hectic lives.
ii. Difficulty in stilling our minds to focus on God and away from this world’s problems.
iii. A QUIET PLACE, A QUIET TIME, AND A QUIET MIND
c. Very interesting questions for a Spiritual “Check up” on our relationship with Christ if we have a barrenness of an overcrowded life:
i. Which comes first? Religious service or knowing God?
ii. Which has more importance? What I do or what I am?
iii. Which means more to God- Quantity or Quality?
iv. Which means more to Christ – my work for Him or my prayerful love for Him?
v. In my Christian life and service, which is more vital – Ability, Activity, or inwrought holiness of character?
vi. Do we wish to meet God having known Him deeply personally or as someone who did many things for Him?
d. FACT: ALL the results of any activities we consider priority in life in relation to Christ are DEPENDENT upon and determined by the place we give prayer in our life.
e. 4 levels of Prayer can be seen in Scripture:
i. A necessity – prayerlessness is a spiritual grave!
ii. A duty – a moral duty of worship to our God.
iii. A privilege – Access to the highest of thrones!
iv. A delight – heart to heart communion with God!
f. A good order of Prayer to get into habitual prayer in our daily lives:
i. Express Worship
ii. Express Thanksgiving for all our blessings
iii. Intercede for others, use our written list
iv. Pray for ourselves- our deepest needs and longings
v. Have a time of silence just for listening! “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth” I Sam 3
WHEN GOD IS SILENT
A. Don’t forget that God answers in 3 ways:
B. Remember our greatest discoveries and blessings often come through our sorest trials.
C. Remember in divine delays there is always a gracious purpose.
D. “We can’t always see the hand of God in a situation, but we can always trust the heart of God” Spurgeon
In order to study this topic and get the most out of it, it is very important that we realize from the start 4 simple truths that God’s Word plainly teaches:
1. Truth #1- God does have a will for each of our lives.
a. Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
i. There is a divine predestination for our lives! (Ordered: “koon” 3559 “to set up, erect, prepare, provide, to establish)
ii. There is a divine delight in following God’s will! God delights in us following His will and yet we will be delighted by following God’s will as well because we are in fellowship with Him!
iii. There is divine support when we follow God’s will. (Upholdeth: “sawmack” 5564 “take hold of, bear up, stand fast”)
b. Saying- “The steps and the stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord”
2. Truth #2- God’s will is GOOD for us!
a. Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
b. God knows what is best for our lives. There is no better Captain to chart our course.
3. Truth #3- God wants us to KNOW his will!
a. Ephesians 5:17 “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
b. God says that it is the wise man that knows what the will of the Lord is. SO- He must make it known if He tells us to understand His will!
c. He does not wish to hide His will from us.
4. Truth #4- We can ENJOY God’s will!
a. Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”
b. God’s will is not “runner up” to a successful life that we think we could have had- it’s THE life that He has ordained for us.
c. Even in the midst of trials, persecutions, and set backs- if we are in God’s Will we can find peace and joy in the fact that we are doing business for the king!
SO WHY DO WE NEED GOD’S GUIDANCE IN OUR LIVES?
A. God knows our NATURE as no one else does.
a. Psalm 139:1-4 lists 5 things that God knows about us. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.”
b. He knows our (1)downsitting; (2)uprising; (3)thoughts; (4)ways; and (5)words
c. God knows the most extreme mundane things about us all the way to the most secretive tucked away Dungeness corners of our hearts. There is absolutely nothing hid to Him.
B. God knows our FUTURE as no one else does.
a. Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet…”
b. God is not bound by time – He sees it all simultaneous. We can trust Him!
c. He sees the ups and downs, the trials and triumphs. Trust Him to prepare us!
C. God has a PURPOSE for each of us as no one else has!
a. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee…”
b. John 15:16 states that God has chosen us and ordained us to bear fruit for Him.
c. Psalm 139:17-18 “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
d. What a great message that God THINKS about us! We are not just an accident, not just a random evolutionary mistake. We are made in the image of God and made with a purpose!
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE WILL OF GOD
A. Mistake #1: “God’s will is hidden”
a. Terminology confuses young Christians. “I’ve found God’s will” can sound like God hides it and we have to look for it to find it.
b. These phrases simply mean that as we mature in our walk with God and are open to the Spirit’s leading, we can more clearly see the will of God.
B. Mistake #2: “Well, this is something I really want to do, so it can’t possibly be God’s will.”
a. Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
b. As we sincerely seek the Lord, His will and our desires begin to merge together. Our desires are replaced with “God-centered” desires.
c. God’s will is not “second best” or undesirable! It is BEST!
C. Mistake #3: “I haven’t gotten a definite answer yet for every part of this problem, so I’m not going to do anything.”
a. We can’t sit in fear and not move forward in life to serve Christ!
b. We must earnestly seek God’s leading and step out in faith.
c. If He loved us enough to die for us, He isn’t going to play games with our life!
D. Mistake #4: “Well, Lord, I’ve decided that the best way I can serve you is…”
a. We shouldn’t plan our life without God and then try to force Him to approve it!
b. You can’t compromise with God! “I’ll make a lot of money and give it to You”
E. Mistake #5: “I’ve disobeyed the Lord. I missed His will sometime ago, and now I’m doomed to “second best”.
a. Look at Peter! (Rebuked God, Denied Christ 3 times, cursed, etc! YET he was used GREATLY in the Lord’s service!) There is always hope for us.
b. Look at Paul! I Timothy 1:13 “…who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy…” God can use us in spite of our past! Don’t think you are trash!!!!!
HOW TO MISS GOD’S WILL
A. So what if we absolutely can’t discern God’s will for our lives?
a. We must acknowledge we might have hidden sins that need to be confessed.
b. We must acknowledge our walk with the Lord may not be what it needs to be.
B. Let’s look at James Chapter 4 and some possible areas we may need to consider:
a. Following sensual desires. James 4:1 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that WAR IN YOUR MEMBERS?” LUST
b. Putting yourself first. James 4:2 “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”
c. Praying with the wrong motive. James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
d. Choosing the wrong friends. James 4:4 “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoseoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
e. Failing to confess known sin. James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
f. Refusing to be humble. James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
g. Prideful heart. James 4:13-17 “…For what is your life?…ye rejoice in your boastings…therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
C. If we have active sin in our life we MUST confess it and get “in tune” with God so that we are able to discern the Spirit’s leading in our life!
- Ways to deal with different types of Stress in our daily lives:
- PERSONAL STRESS: alarm clock, kids to school, the maze of everyday stress!
- Limit your focus to the concerns of the day.
- Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
- Don’t worry about what we have to do tomorrow. Focus on what is going on right now in front of us today.
- This doesn’t mean that we don’t prepare for tomorrow! We still have homework, deadlines, etc. but it is how we manage it and keep it in perspective.
- This speaks of things that are out of our control, things that we may not yet clearly see an answer or solution to. Don’t get bogged down.
- Don’t worry about what we have to do tomorrow. Focus on what is going on right now in front of us today.
- Keep reminding yourself of the supernatural nature of the Christian life!
- Romans 8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
- Our resources are limited – God’s resources are NEVER limited!
- We never once, as a believer, will wake up in the morning and face the world alone.
- Even at our worst backslidden state, there is still an air of Grace that surrounds the child of God.
- All the more reason that we should keep our lives clean and ready to serve! To know that He loves us that much!
- When we do face bad times, rough spots, trials, catastrophes – remind yourself that this is normal.
- I Peter 4:12,13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But REJOICE, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
- We all have different bad times, low spots, etc. The common denominator is that it upsets our security, lifestyle, routine, etc. We must remember this is NORMAL.
- MARITAL STRESS: Yep… you know we have to talk about it! Did you know it now takes 600 more hours per year to maintain the same stand of living today that we’ve grown accustomed to in the last 30 years due to the extremely busy schedules of life today?
- We must have compassion. We need to put our self in our spouse’s shoes.
- Jesus had compassion and is our role model.
- Funny way to see it = WWGD? What would Grandma Do?
- Think of the love and compassion a Godly Grandmother shows.
- Her focus is always on the grandchild- full of compassion!
- We should show that same compassion of a Grandmother to our Spouse.
- We must compromise with each other.
- Not compromising Biblical truth- but self interest.
- Matthew 5:41 “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” We should be willing to do for our spouse AND MORE what we are willing to do for someone else.
- Finances are a HUGE stressor in a marriage! Be smart with the money and resources that God has given you.
- Recognize that one of you will be better with the finances than the other.
- Guys- not every night is date night. Ladies- not every night is sappy movie night!
- When an issue arises we should ask: “Is the difference worth the price of peace between us?”
- Honor each other’s “domains”
- Man with the “manly” things. He picks out the BBQ!
- Ladies with the things of the home. She gets to pick the furnishings!
- Old saying: “When momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy”
- Try to honor and respect each other in every decision our the marriage.
- Honor each other’s “domains”
- When confrontations must occur- LOVING confrontation is the Biblical way.
- Ephesians 4:15 “speaking the truth in love”
- It takes BOTH elements –
- Willing to speak the truth to each other based on God’s Word.
- Speaking the truth IN LOVE
- If the conversation is difficult, serious, etc.
- Be willing to pray right up front together and ask the Spirit for guidance.
- If things get frayed in the middle- stop and pray some more!
- No “missile” prayers when praying together! “God help her to do what is right”; “God help him to see he is wrong”
- It takes BOTH elements –
- FAMILY STRESS: Yep – there’s additional stress when you add kids. Did you know?????
- Expect added stress with the first child…and the second…and the third…..
- First child – scared of people holding it, scared of it catching a disease, etc.
- Your house is doomed.
- You will find toys in the strangest places.
- Desitin will come out of that….or NOT.
- There will most likely be a “booger wall” Go ahead and prepare.
- The house will never be that clean again.
- There will be things broken! Price of kids and parenting.
- A dare from a sibling is basically a warning something is about to cost you money.
- Expect added stress with the first child…and the second…and the third…..
- When children enter their teens, the parents are entering midlife so family stress reaches its peak at this time.
- If we have taught our kids to love, honor, and obey it will pay off during these times.
- Start NOW if you haven’t! Continue more and more if you have!
- Remind them as they grow up of their COMMAND to “obey your parents in the Lord” and to “Honour thy father and mother” Ephesians 6:1-2
- Don’t forget our patience has continued to decline with our age and bodies!
- JOB STRESS: A LOT of stresses are created by the economic necessity to do a kind of work you don’t enjoy doing in order to make a living. Can I get an AMEN! God wants us to enjoy the work we do because it is our way to represent HIM in the community and work force!
- If we enjoy our jobs, they will become LESS stressful.
- If you are in an area you feel you are not gifted to do, then pray about this and seek God’s will!
- Is He calling you to something else? Are you willing to work hard to make the change to capitalize on the gifts God has given you?
- Stay focused on your job and career responsibilities.
- Don’t get caught up in the politics and petty issues of the work place.
- Remember our work ethic is a part of our testimony!
- Develop the mental and spiritual ability to put an invisible boundary between your workplace and your home life. – Treat our home like our Sanctuary!
- PUBLIC STRESS: Long lines at the airport, grocery store, WALMART; national and world politics, taxes all lead to extra stressors on our lives!
- We need to be filled with the love of God.
- Romans 13:9 “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”
- I Corinthians 13 No matter how displayed our faith may be- if we don’t have love we can be useless to God’
- Show Christ as well as we speak Christ.
- We need to be tolerant (when it does NOT conflict with Scripture) of those who differ from us so that we can be in a position to reach them. Tolerance has become a BAD word today. It doesn’t have to be.
- Matthew 11:19 Jesus was a friend of sinners.
- Are we willing to engage in relationships/communication with those who believe differently (or don’t believe at all) in order to win them to Christ?
- We need to have and practice Patience.
- Tolerance and Patience are works of grace that keep us from having a meltdown!
- They help us to contain the pressures and stresses of every day life.
- CHURCH STRESS: Stress at our Church???? YES.
- Just like life, work, family, marriage, public. There is stress in church.
- Recognize people are hurting (like we may be) around us in our church family.
- Our Church is made up of individuals (like us) who have many of the same stressors we do on a daily basis. Maybe even more than us at times!
- Remember that no one is perfect. NO ONE – not even us.
- Realize that you can’t do it all by yourself AND you can be on every committee, project, ministry that there is and do a good job.
- Choose and commit to those things that God is leading you to do and that you are gifted for – AND DO THEM WELL.
- Don’t try to do everything – burn out WILL happen.
- When we have overloaded ourselves with church work, it will affect our marriage, family, work, and public ministry.
- What’s the Conclusion?????
- Rejoice even when we are in difficult circumstances!
- Pray so that worry is abated. “People who pray tend not to worry. People who tend to worry, often forget to pray. It’s really that simple”
- Think – take responsibility! We can think on positive or negative things. When we focus on God, He becomes bigger and our problems become smaller.
- Wisdom – Proverbs Chapter 8
- Proverbs 8:11 “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”
- Is true wisdom the desire of our leaders today? Is it our desire?
- What does the world seek in place of wisdom today? Fame,Fortune,Popularity
- Proverbs 8:15 “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice”
- It’s hard to read this verse in light of today’s leaders in our nation.
- Wisdom is lacking in Washington.
- We are in very dire need of wise leaders today! In church, society, government, homes, schools.
- Wisdom is a very important part of Godly leadership.
- Are we seeking wisdom in our daily lives? At work, school, home, church?
- Are we “wise enough” to recognize when we don’t use Biblical wisdom?
- Proverbs 8:11 “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”
- Integrity –
- Proverbs 11:3 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
- Proverbs 19:1 “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
- Integrity is a dying virtue in our society.
- The line between truth and lies in the world’s eyes has become very blurry.
- The world takes success however they can get it.
- Cheating, Lying, Fraud, etc. is rewarded by the world.
- How is our integrity?
- What would our friends and coworkers say about our integrity?
- What would the world say about our integrity?
- Love –
- Proverbs 20:28 “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden in mercy.”
- Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth as all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
- Luke 6:27 “…Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.”
- Our love is best displayed in times when there is absolutely nothing in it for us and even better when it may COST us to love!
- Coworkers at work who may talk bad about us.
- Family members who continue to let us down and break our hearts.
- Staff who may disrespect you and slander you.
- Do we look for ways to love? There is usually always an opportunity for love and mercy!
- Good Advisors/Counsel –
- Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
- Proverbs 25:4-5 “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.”
- How many times problems in our lives could have been avoided had we just listened to godly counsel!
- No single man can be a great leader- that man/woman has people in their background that has helped to shape them in their godly transition.
- Godly counsel along with the Spirit’s leading makes great Leadership.
- Every leader needs a trusted adviser. The ability to listen to the advice of others is the mark of a great leader- not a weakness!
- WHO ARE YOUR ADVISORS?
- There is also a place for trusted “accountability” advisors.
- Self Control –
- Proverbs 28:15 “As a roaring lion, and a raging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
- If we can’t control our actions, then people will not trust or respect us as leaders.
- How are we at self control?
- Do we have “melt downs”?
- Do we lose our temper over small things?
- Are we quick to react with our tongue before we process with our mind?
- When we don’t have self control, it makes our dependency on Christ and our foundation on God’s Word seem fake to the world and to those we serve or lead.
- Awareness of his/her influence –
- Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
- We have influence as leaders! Good and bad!
- Parents- we shape and mold our kid’s actions, beliefs, tempers, etc.
- SS Teachers, Pastors, Youth Leaders- we influence those who we are allowed to serve.
- We set the “atmosphere” at work.
- If we are “moody” and “shifty” day to day, it makes for a horrible work environment and causes those under us to not trust us nor respect us.
- If we are down, the staff will be down. If we are excited and enthusiastic, it makes it easier for staff to be that way.
- PEOPLE BECOME LIKE THOSE WHO THEY FOLLOW.
- Who are we following?
- Who are we leading?
- Who are our kids following?
- Compassion –
- Proverbs 29:14 “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.”
- I Peter 3:8 “…be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another…”
- Good leaders (and Christians) have and show compassion!
- Christ was our example- He was moved with compassion in the Scriptures.
- Love and compassion go hand in hand.
- You can love and not have compassion (fathers, husbands, etc. who love their families but aren’t moved with compassion when pain or accidents happen – “man up” or “big kids don’t cry”.
- We need to love those in our charge AND show compassion.
- When we are able, put ourselves in their shoes.
- When we are able, do what we can to help the situation.
- When we are able, show Jesus with no expectation of reward.
- No Need for Public Approval –
- Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
- Acts 5:29 “…we ought to obey God rather than men.”
- This decision is made before we are leaders! We must decide that God controls our life.
- We can never have complete harmony with God and the World at the same time!
- Are we willing to be ostracized by the world and stand for Christ?
- Kentucky Clerk – Not issuing marriage licenses to sodomites.
- Bakeries/Photographers – refusing to provide service to sodomite weddings.
- Standing against Abortion – when it is being more accepted in America and the world.
- Moderation –
- Bible speaks against Kings, princes, deacons, pastors not being given to wine or strong drink.
- Commanded to not be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit.
- But what about other things that calls for moderation as a Biblical leader?
- Balance of hobbies with responsibility
- Balance of our personal pursuits with Biblical duties
- Balance of our daily living with our walk with God
- There are so many other things we need to moderate:
- Great Leaders moderate their lives Biblically so that they can be a good testimony for others and to glorify God.
- Submission to God –
- Proverbs 21:1-2 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will. Every way of man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
- Perhaps this is the MOST important trait of Biblical leadership.
- We must submit our mind and life to God and allow him to guide us in His perfect will.
- If we submit to God, then our lives will reflect it and show a true testimony of Christ to a lost world and fellow believers.
- We should never be ashamed to let those in our leadership KNOW that we are a believer and that we follow Christ.
- Look for opportunity to share Christ.
- Look for opportunity to incorporate Biblical practices into leadership.
This week I will be teaching on Apathy in Sunday School, and it has really caused me to stop and think about how easily we are sidelined in the cause of Christ. It is a constant and daily battle to keep our minds focused on the reality of our position in this world and what is to be gained or lost for all of eternity. This thought was reinforced at Prayer Meeting last night when, again, the topic was that of our society and how complacent and lackluster we as Christians have become in America. Things that use to move us with great zeal and compassion now at best raise a spiritual eyebrow only to sink back down into the boggy religious quagmire we now find ourselves living in. It seems that everyone you speak to is “saved” yet why are our families, communities, and churches decaying all around us? It is a challenge for all of us to remember daily the ultimate reason for our drawing breath each day- to worship God and bring honor and glory to Him! What better way to do that than to lead a life that is reflective of Christ’s teachings and actions? Go tell someone today!
We had a great visit this past weekend to St Marks and the preserve! We enjoyed walking on the beach, seeing the many beautiful animals and the old historic lighthouse. So many beautiful things around us put us in constant reminder of God and His love for us and His creation. We didn’t see any bears, jaguars, or other elusive things- but we did get a big laugh at the visitor’s center when we read someone logged into the journal there that they saw a “skunk ape”. We also made a quick stop at Wakulla Springs but this is definitely a stop for warmer weather! We hope to go back real soon!
It was a very cool morning for Southwest Georgia this morning! My wife and I sat on the dock admiring God’s creation in the warm sunshine. Woodpeckers, sparrows, cardinals, squirrels all busy gathering and feeding. What a great reminder about God’s awesome power, grace, and love for us! To know that He cares even for the sparrows should make us feel emboldened to approach his throne as an adopted child on a regular basis. The fruit trees throughout our yard are now entering the window of time for pruning so that we can get an abundant supply of delicious things in the fall! It made me think of my spiritual growth and the need for “pruning” out the dead places in my walk with Christ and nurturing growth through the reading and meditation on God’s Word. Unlike an annual chore for the fruit trees, as Christians we should be “pruning” on a constant basis- getting rid of unwanted sprouts of bitterness, jealousy, hatred, and other carnal snares. We should all commit to that spiritual “pruning” today and see what God can do in our lives!
We have made it to 2015! Wow… it seems like just yesterday we had started 2014, but time continues to move forward. So many things in the world today make me wonder- how much longer until Christ’s return? The news is constantly alive with hate and lies aimed at Israel and in America we continue to decline as we drift as a nation further from God and His Word. So- is there a positive outlook? Of course! We have yet another year to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and to let God’s Word shine through us and our lives every day. Whether at work, home, school, or anywhere in between, we have the opportunity — the obligation— to represent our King.
It is also a time of year for resolutions. I am horrible with resolutions! But what better time in our lives than now to choose to make changes to have a greater impact for Christ and His Kingdom? All of our victories in life must be based on the foundation of the preparation made through His Word. We should decide and commit to spend that necessary preparation time daily in His Word and in prayer. What soldier can truly go forth and battle successfully for a commander to which he has not given an earnest ear and attentive spirit to know the battle plan?
We all fall short daily of accomplishing all we are capable of with time management, prayer, and preparation through the Spirit. No one likes to hear that their priorities are not in order — especially me! But— are our priorities truly in order? As we start 2015- are we doing what is necessary to accomplish every task that is humanly possible by our part, so that God can move in those areas that only He is sovereign?
Happy New Year! What a great thought as we enter another year that brings us closer to the return of our Savior!
This week, while preparing for teaching a Sunday School lesson, I have been reflecting on the importance of missions in the life of every Christian. We recently had a missions conference at our church and it was a great experience. Using that as a spring board, I had written my lesson and at the end, I finished with an acronym that I wanted to share below. While I wrote this out myself, I am sure that credit goes to many other similar acronyms I have read and speakers I have heard over the years. It is most likely a compilation of them all. In any case, I was wanting something that helped keep me focus every day on what my calling is as a redeemed Child of the King! I used the words, “PRAY DAILY”:
P Pray every day with focus on personal and spiritual matters.
R Read God’s Word every day expecting to get something out of it!
A Acknowledge all sin in your life and repent.
Y Yield to God’s calling on your life.
D Discern the situations around you in your daily interactions with people.
A Ask God for opportunities to share the Gospel.
I Invest in people! Look for opportunities to grow relationships.
L Love people as Christ would love them. Compassion and Mercy in every circumstance.
Y Yield to the leading of the Spirit! Be available to be used!
That’s it! It’s simple, but I’m a simple person! I hope it can help keep me focused and maybe it will be a blessing to others as well.
We are having a Missions Conference at our church this week. As I have listened to the messages, the missionaries, the programs, one thing has been made very evident to me. Missions is not just a few people being called to go with the Gospel. Missions is a command placed on every believer by God! Our part in missions is certainly varied, yet all are called to help disperse God’s wonderful plan of Salvation across the Globe. As one speaker put it so plainly last night- there are 3 responses to the call of missions on the Believer’s life: (1)You can GO! If you can’t go, then (2)You can help SEND! And sadly, if you don’t do either of these, then (3)You can live in disobedience to God’s Word. So what part are you willing to play in the call?
I realized today it has been a LONG time since I have shared anything on my blog! I guess the word that comes to mind is “committed”. I haven’t been very “committed” in this blog lately, but I had good intentions. I would like to put entries on here consistently but, while my intentions are good, I just fail to get it done. It made me think about our Christian walk. How many times do we have the best intentions and just fail to get it done. Reading God’s Word, prayer time, ministry, etc. It takes commitment! It helped me to remember that everything we do for God should be 100%! So… while my blog suffers at times, it is my desire to always be committed for God on a daily basis!
Yesterday, about 2:45 am I set out for Georgia from West Nebraska. My family and I will be moving back to Georgia for jobs that my wife and I have been offered. My entire trip was mapped out, planned, and all the details decided. My family and I said our prayers, goodbyes, and shared hugs the night before and I was on my way early. I travelled through the night without any issues, through long stretches of nothing and towns miles apart. About 11:30 yesterday morning, while going through Kansas City, MO, I exited the interstate to get gas. I noticed something that smelled like it was burning and then noticed smoke coming out from my driver side FRONT tire! Sure enough, my front brakes had locked up on me. My first reaction was helplessness. Here I am in an enormous town compared to my 3,600 population back in Nebraska – who do I call? My wife and I had discussed AAA just a couple of months earlier. I pulled out my membership card and started the process. With that initial work done, my focus then became one of anxiety quite honestly. Why did I have to break down here???? I think I honestly had to get that question out to be able to appreciate the answer. Why? Because God ordained it! I could have been stranded on the side of a road somewhere in the barren lands of Nebraska and Kansas at 4am, but God allowed me to make it to a safe place where help would be readily available. God also allowed me to be stopped at a gas station and not going down the road at 65 mph while pulling my enclosed trailer. For every anxious excuse I might have, God has an answer. I am suppose to start my new job tomorrow, yet I am still over 17 hours away from home- but the friend I will be working for is a Christian who simply said to “drive safe and get here when you can”.
So, this morning I sit in a hotel room. I am thankful for the unseen hands of God’s protection, His direction, His mercy, and His love. I did find out that both REAR seals had blown out of the rear of my jeep. Wow… and I just noticed smoke on the FRONT tire and never knew anything was wrong with the back. The mechanic told me everything looked good on the front and that the brake had just temporarily locked up. I’m not a mechanic, but I know my front from my back! Had God used the temporary lock up to get my attention so that the rear issues could be found and repaired to prevent an accident later down the road? All I know is that God is good – all the time. Sure, I have spent quite a little fortune here in repairs, hotels, meals, etc. but I am safe.
Later this afternoon, I will hopefully, by God’s grace and providence, be able to get back on the road. I don’t know what else is in store for me on this trip. I have a LONG way still to go. I do know that God is good – all the time. We have a way of just uttering that without much thought as we go through life unaffected for weeks or months sometimes without major obstacles, worries, or financial problems. Sometimes it takes a wrecker service, mechanic shop, and nice warm shower in the safety of a hotel room to allow us to experience that. It is then up to us as to how we will realize and appreciate that thought in the coming days. Thank you Lord, for your blessings and unseen hands at work in our lives.
Just as an individual family is made up of unique members with a different purpose, so the Human Family is also composed of three separate strands of peoples with similar characteristics. As with an individual family who shares similarities as well as differences, the Human Family has, within its history, these characteristics as well. God’s ordained strands of the human family are: the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Christian. This paper will look at each of these three strands of the human family with a focus on the similarities and differences within the three strands. This understanding promotes a clearer understanding of God’s Word and His prophetic outlook for the student of God’s Word.
It could truthfully be stated using a very familiar portion of Scripture: “In the beginning…” God created Gentiles. It is the Gentile who first appears on the scene on the pages of Biblical history, and it was the first strand of the human family which included Adam and Eve. Gentiles inhabited the first place on Earth, Gentiles were the first to commune with God, and Gentiles would later provide the person to whom another strand of the human family would be birthed. That being said, Gentiles would, unfortunately, also have the sorrow of bringing the first sin into the world, committing the first murder, and being responsible for casting all of humanity into a fallen state of depravity. God would use a Gentile by the name of Noah to protect the human strand, as well as His creation, through a worldwide judgmental flood that would reset the field for new beginnings. A key point in also dealing with the Gentile strand is that, all of the “colored” races stem from the Gentile foundation. While many throughout history have declared “white supremacy” and certain races to be “lower” than others, in God’s eyes, they have always been equal, and all the actors from the stage of history past either came from Gentile or Jewish descent. The truth remains that, left on their own, Gentiles would have never come to know the mercy and gift of God’s Salvation, without the appearance of the Jewish strand and God’s prophetic Messianic plan. The Gentile is noted as being “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12-13,KJV).¹ While the Gentile was indeed the first strand of humanity in God’s creation, it would take a second strand to advance the race toward the coming Messiah, and the “propitiation for our sins” (I John 2:2, KJV).
The second strand of the human family to be created by God is the Jewish strand. While the Jewish strand would come from the Gentile strand, it would be different in its relationship to God and its duty to mankind. In Genesis, chapter 12, Abram is called by God to leave his land and family and go to a “land that I will show thee” (Genesis 12:1, KJV). Had it not been for Abram fulfilling this first act of faith, perhaps he would have been just another minor character in the story of God’s people. Abram’s obedience began the formation of the new human strand known as the Jews.
Just as with the Gentiles, the Jews still needed a Savior. They were lost in their sins and could not merit redemption on their own. God’s wonderful grace and mercy, however, provided something for the Jew that the Gentiles did not have: A Messiah! God did not raise up a Savior from the Gentile world; instead, He created a people through which an ancestral line would one day yield that Kinsman Redeemer. God also provided, through the Jewish strand, Covenants for His Jewish people. These Covenants are proprietary to the Jewish race alone, yet do hold some spiritual significance to the third group in the human family which will be discussed hereafter. Gentiles were not privy to these Covenants and therefore could not receive the direct blessings that would flow out to the Jews. One such Covenant would be the bedrock for the Jewish race, that agreement known as the “Abrahamic Covenant”. Upon the departure out of his home land, Abraham is promised by God that “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3, KJV). God’s promise to Abraham is enduring to this day, as is His love for His people. The Covenant establishes the fact that a Nation would be established through Abraham which would be the Jewish race.
Other Covenants peculiar to the Jewish would be that of the Land Covenant, which sets forth the stipulations of the possession of the Land promised (Deuteronomy 29-30, KJV); the Davidic Covenant, which promises the future Kingdom (II Samuel 7:10, KJV); and the New Covenant, which promises the Redemption (Jeremiah 31:31-34, KJV). None of these Covenants were meant for the Gentiles; neither were they meant for the Church, as is the fallacy commonly taught today among “Replacement Theology” heretics. Spiritual blessings and applications can be realized through some, yet none set forth the Gentile nor the Church as the intended primary recipient.
The question remains: “Why did God select the Jew”? The answer could be no more simple than the fact that God loved them (Deuteronomy 7:6-8, KJV)! Their existence also provided: Testimony of a pure, powerful almighty God to the world; Testimony of blessing received from the obedience to a pure and powerful almighty God; Tool of preservation and distribution of God’s Word to the Word; and a peoples through which to bring the Messiah into the World.
The third strand of this human family is that of the Christian. The Origins of the Christian race can not be traced to a fleshly lineage, but rather through a miraculous creation by God through Christ and His completed work on the Cross. Paul uses several key words in Ephesians 2 to describe the origin of this new peoples: “for he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in himself of twain one new man…that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross…through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the father…” (Ephesians 2:14-18, KJV, Italics and Underscore mine). The Christian, as Paul describes, is that person, whether Jew or Gentile, who has accepted Christ as Savior and becomes a child of God. In God’s eyes, that person, though still owning physical, cultural, and ethnic traits on Earth, is no longer seen as “Jew” or “Gentile” but as “Christian”. With this in mind, it then provides a much clearer picture for the student of Bible prophecy to understand God’s Word and endtime events. It is not being “Jewish” that will gain entrance into the Kingdom, but rather being a blood washed repentant sinner that will create the “new man” and conversion to that of “Christian”. It is not a partial payment for redemption, as can be construed from the Messianic Jewish Movement of today, where one believes that Jews indeed have a “separate path” that can be obtained through ordinances and practices in addition to God’s Salvation. Where law and grace are combined, there is no remission of sins.
The three strands of God’s human family: the Gentile, the Jew, and the Christian, are all in existence today by God’s grace and His almighty wisdom. These three strands, though similar in some aspects, are yet very different and will continue to play their roles throughout the end times scenario, until all of God’s plan has been achieved.
1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.