What Are We Learning from God?

Teach me to do thy will; for thou are my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143.10

What a wonderful way to start the day: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou are my God … ” This is not just a good word for the psalmist. It is good for you and me too. How do we go about doing the will of God? The starting place is His Word. The psalmist did not have the benefit of the whole of Scripture that we have now. We have the ability and the privilege of studying God’s Word to learn about Him and what He wants from His children. I think for most of us, our struggle is determining in our hearts to DO what we already know God wants. We gain nothing by trying to bargain with God. On the contrary, we find our greatest peace in doing what we already know to do. Once we make the determination that God is OUR God, the rest of life wants to fall into place and follow Him.

This phrase: “thy spirit is good … ” is more than simply bragging on God. The psalmist knows, and we must know too, that God ALWAYS has the psalmist’s best interests at heart (and that is true for us as well).

What does this last phrase mean to us? “lead me into the land of uprightness.” One translation reads: “Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” The psalmist’s heart desire is to walk in a way that will glorify his God. You and I need to come to this place in our lives as well. Gone are the days when we should choose to live selfishly. OUR heart cry must be that God would guide us in a way that will cause our lives to bring glory to Him. Once again, this is not a once-for-all decision. It is something that we must choose EVERY DAY – and sometimes more frequently than that. These are just my thoughts …

 

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

Glorify God HOW?

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16

Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.

Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.

If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.

It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …

The Great Acceptance!

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6.37

Those of us who have already come to Christ for salvation realize the truth of this first statement. The Father’s desire is for all men to be saved (2 Peter 3.9) and He does not override our will. He could make us robots and we would not have any say in the matter, but He gave Adam a free will and He did the same for us.

I want us to look closely at this second phrase: “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Over the years I have heard so many people make this statement: “How do I know that God will save me? Just asking seems so simple.” In Romans 10.13 we read: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is as clear as God can make it.

But let’s think for a moment about the phrase, “I will in no wise cast out.” There is no need to worry whether or not we are going to do something that will cause God to be so angry with us that He puts us out of the family. In fact, as I have stated before, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His unconditional love for us was clearly demonstrated at Calvary. No one ever came to God for salvation and heard Him say, “Your sin is too great. I can’t save you.” On the contrary, we read these words from Paul’s pen: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of who I am chief.” (1Timothy 1.15) The conclusion that you and I draw from this is simply that God is willing to take anyone who is willing to accept Christ’s payment for his sin. Every sinner qualifies. Not all sinners are willing to accept Christ’s payment. Just my thoughts …

God Loves ALL the World!

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3.9

If there was ever any question about God’s heart when He sacrificed His Son on the cross, it is surely answered here. How can anyone reach the conclusion that Christ died for a select few when Peter states so clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish … ”? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if WE really believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2: “And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”).

Peter reminds us that God “is longsuffering to usward … ” If any one of the apostles understood the longsuffering heart of God, it was Peter. When we consider the various events in Peter’s life that Christ went through with him and saw him recover, we can grasp something of Peter’s heart. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21 when He asked Peter, “do you love me?” and Peter said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

The last phrase in the verse above is worth considering: “all should come to repentance.” Who is the “all” here? It is the world for whom Christ died. The tragic thing today is that there are so many in our world that have never heard the name of Christ. They don’t even know that God has a Son and that He died for their sins. Let me ask a question that I have asked before in previous blogs. Is it God’s fault that so many in the world have never the message or is it the fault of the local New Testament church who has failed to send missionaries to remote villages and lands where no white man has ever been seen? I realize the church cannot send someone until they have SURRENDERED all to Christ and have been trained to go. But, an honest question here, are our churches asking for people to surrender – teens, college students, young couples, you name it. Could it be that WE need to pray for God to call some and if He calls US, will we go? Just my thoughts …

Search My What?

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139.23-24

When was the last time you said to God, “Search me … ”? The psalmist was crying out to God for a relationship that was totally authentic. If God were to search your heart today, what would He find there? (1) an attitude of ‘I don’t care’; (2) some idolatrous something that you have put before Him; or (3) a heart with a longing for Him that cannot be satisfied with anything less than total surrender, total transparency, and total unveiling of your heart to Him?

The issue is not does God know what is in my heart, but rather do I care that God knows what is in my heart. The psalmist made some deliberate statements: (1) search me, (2) know my heart, (3) try me, (4) know my thoughts, (5) see if there be any wicked way in me; and finally, (6) lead me in the way everlasting. As I read through these statements, I try to put myself in the psalmist’s place. Am I willing to come to God with such transparency and such authenticity that I open myself up to allow God to do in me, to me, and through me anything He chooses?

Look at this last phrase: “lead me in the way everlasting.” Does that seem a little frightening to you? The danger for most of us is that we are not sure we can TRUST God to always make the best choices for us. Are you willing to begin each day with this simple declaration: “Lord, I believe you always have my best interests at heart, and I am willing to TRUST you even when I don’t know where the next step will lead or what Your ultimate goal is for me. This one thing I do know Lord, ‘As for (You), (your) way is perfect.’” That is the way I want to begin each day! How about you? Just my thoughts …

 

Why Can’t I Do What I Want?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. ” Galatians 5.13-14

What is Paul talking about here when he says, “ye have been called unto liberty … ”? This is a reference to the truth that they now have liberty under grace (not under law) to live for God. It is possible for some people to mistake liberty for license. If they have the liberty to do something, then that gives them a license to do whatever they want. Paul calls that kind of thinking into check in this verse: “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh … ” Our flesh has a tendency to want to get even with others who hurt us. So we rationalize our behavior by thinking, “Hey, I am going to heaven no matter what. So I can say and do what I want. Right?” Wrong! “, but by love serve one another.” That throws a monkey wrench into things.

Now Paul expands our thinking on this matter: “14For all the law is fulfilled in one word … ” OK, what is that word Paul? Ready? “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” That is what liberty under grace allows us to do. They may not deserve love, but then neither did we. They may not deserve grace, but then neither did we. You don’t get up in the morning, go into the bathroom, and start yelling at the face in the mirror. And why not? You are looking at yourself. Can you then treat your neighbor with that same kindness? Two times in these two verses Paul uses this word love. (1) “by love serve one another” and (2) “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is not a warm fuzzy something that isn’t real. It is the unconditional love Christ has shown to us. I’d say we have a pretty big job ahead of us. Just my thoughts …

You CAN Trust God!

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 the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessings, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3.10

I love it when God puts His name on the line with one of His promises. I know that many believers are not convinced that they need to tithe or should tithe. But in this verse God says, “prove me now herewith … ” God is saying, “If you don’t believe what I am saying, PROVE ME …” That is a pretty bold statement. If a friend would say to you, “Prove me and see if what I am saying is true,” you would take that seriously, even if you chose not to prove him.

When God speaks of “the storehouse,” He is talking about the local church in the New Testament. I know believers who take their tithe and send it to other ministries to help them, but if I understand the Scriptures correctly, our tithe needs to go to our local church. If we want to give to these other ministries, it needs to be something above and beyond our tithe.

What is God NOT saying here? He is not saying that we can spend our money however we want, without regard for good stewardship or disciplined spending, and He will STILL supply our needs. Your responsibility and my responsibility is to give God our tithe right off the top of our paycheck, and then diligently pay any other debts that we may owe. There are some who expect the windows of heaven to open when they have not been responsible in other areas of spending. That is not what this verse. You can TRUST God and yes, you can PROVE Him. That is what He said. Just my thoughts …

Words MEAN Something!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13.1

You know when you meet some people, the way they talk is so flowery and syrupy that you wonder, “Are they for real?” And then there are others who punctuate everything with a scripture verse because they want you to know they are “spiritual.” I think Paul puts his finger on the pulse of the way people talk with the first phrase of this verse: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels … ” Now I don’t know what an angel sounds like when he speaks, but all of us pretty well recognize the sound of men’s and women’s voices.

What is Paul saying? He tells us that there is more to living for God than just talking a good fight. Armchair generals are a dime a dozen. They can tell everybody else how to fight a battle but when it comes down to them, it is a different story. The next phrase brings things into focus a little better: “and have not charity … ” The word charity here means love – agape love – unconditional love – the kind that Jesus displayed while He was here on earth. If all I can do is speak about a person’s need but I am unable to come alongside them and help them by loving them through the crisis, I am not much use to the one who is struggling.

Paul describes them in very graphic terms: “I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Now there is a place for sounding brass and a tinkling symbol, but that place is NOT when I am standing alongside a brother or sister in Christ who needs me to reach out to them with loving kindness and do all I can to help them work through whatever they are facing. Words mean something. I want the words I say to be spoken with love and with compassion. And when others speak to me, I need to hear the same. Just my thoughts …

We ARE Blessed Indeed!

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4.6-8

I encourage you to read the verses preceding this for context. Paul’s words here bring great comfort to every believer who will read them and believe them. Consider this: “the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” How many people do we know who still believe they need to do some kind of “works” in order to get to heaven? David, back in Old Testament times said that the man is blessed to whom God imputes righteousness WITHOUT works. The work that Christ did on Calvary is what God imputes or puts on our account.

David continues: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Forgiveness of sin is only possible when a perfect sacrifice has been offered. That was Christ. Sins can only be covered when the blood of that perfect sacrifice is applied to the mercy seat and God says, “That’s enough!” Christ’s blood has covered ALL my sin and ALL your sin … because we have received Him as personal savior.

Finally, verse 8: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Again, why would God NOT impute MY sin to my account? The blessed truth is that Christ did everything that His Father required to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2). HIS payment for MY sin allows me to be a blessed man –why? Because God the Father imputed my sin to Christ and Christ did all that the Father demanded for sin to be covered. God the Father forgave me because His Son PAID for my sins. I am BLESSED indeed! And so are you! Just my thoughts …