Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who to Follow?!

God has a plan for all our lives; the Psalmist David said God knew us before we were formed in the womb. You may say,"But that was King David, he did great and mighty things for God!" Yes, he did, but in Isaiah you hear the same thing. In the book of Job, you hear the same thing. Elsewhere in the scripture you read that God is no respecter of persons. That means that he looks at one of us the same as he looks at all of us.

We Christians are His children: He doesn't play favorites. He wants us to trust Him completely with where his plan will take us. He wants us to trust Him to guide our steps.

"For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our Guide even unto death." Ps. 48:14

If you look up the word 'guide' in the dictionary you will find that it means 'one who shows the way' or 'one who goes before'. Again and again in scripture you can read that God goes before his people. He moves on our behalf. David in Psalm 71 says that  even before he was born he relied on God. He depended on Him for safety and care. God never failed him. He tells of times when he (David) failed God, but God never failed him. this is how it is for all Christians. We may and do, fail God: but He is always there for us.

There is a catch, or condition--if you can call it that: God cannot lead someone who will not follow. We must be willing to follow where God leads. Paul tells us that if we are willing, that is all that is required.

 "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath,  and not according to that he hath not."  2 Corinthians 8:12

In this verse God lets us know that a willing mind is all He requires of us. He is great enough to supply all the rest. In order for you to follow, you must be able to recognise the guide. You must be able to distinguish who is real and who is a deceiver. This means spending time in God's Word getting to know Him personally and the methods He uses to lead.

In my youth I struggled with where I fit into God's plan. I listened and I watched other women. I wasted lots of time and energy as I tried to follow someone else. About the time I thought I had found my place, and I 'had this business of doing God's business down',someone would tell me I was wrong--and have the scripture to prove it! I have learned after much flustration, that the problem was not them, it was me. I was trying to follow the wrong guide. I have learned since then to look to God first and learn how He leads.

Jesus tells us all to "take my yoke upon you and learn of me" Many years have passed since that day God showed me that when I follow him, everything else falls away and the path is clear. I can stand today and point you not to me but to God: because God's plan for your life may not , and probably is not the same, as His plan for me. He is the true Guide, learn how He leads, and never stop following Him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Holiness: Your Top Priority

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” I Peter 1:15

   References: ICR. 6:19-20; John 14; GN. 24; I.CR.7:23; I PT.1:13-18

Not too many Christians think of themselves as holy. Yet in I Peter 1:15, God commands you that you are to be holy. Why? Because God is Holy and you ,as his child, are to identify or be like him. Remember back when you were a kid and recess came? Everyone would gather in a circle and two would be chosen as team captains, then the captains would start choosing who they wanted to play on their team. As each one was chosen, he would move to line up alongside of his captain: he was identifying with his captain and other teammates. This is what God expects you to do when he chooses you.

This is a daily challenge not just for you, but for every one of God’s children.

In the New Testament the book of 1st Corinthians, Paul was explaining to the new believers in Corinth how the church was to live. This is for the church today to know as well. Things had changed from the Old Testament time when the people were under the law. Under the law, animal sacrifices were to be brought to the temple where God’s Spirit met with a priest. The priest took the animals and offered them to God as a sacrifice for the peoples’ sins. Now that is no longer required Paul says. There is a better way.

Look at what Paul asks in I Ch. 6:19:

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” I CR. 6: 19

Paul tells you that the Holy Spirit is now inside of the believer. What caused this change? When you asked Jesus to forgive your sin and save you; you became part of the family of God. You accepted the final price or sacrifice which Jesus, your High Priest, made for you which was His death on the cross.

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I CR. 6:20

As a young child reaches for something that they do not need, you that are parents or caretakers of children will try to replace that with something that the child does need and can safely handle. The Holy Spirit works within you to offer you the good things the Father has for you. Those experiences God has in store for you will be good for you in contrast to those desires that you have that may hurt you.

Jesus paid for your soul by his death on the cross. In Romans chapter 12, Paul says it is only reasonable that you be a living sacrifice now that you belong to God. What he means is that you should sacrifice everyday your desires, and replace them with what God desires to give you. As you do this your thoughts will start to come more and more in line with Gods’ thoughts and you will become holy, more like Christ.

“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.” Rm. 12:1

Today, the temple of God is not a building, it is your body. You are a part of the living church. God, in the person of the Holy Spirit lives in you. Just before He ascended into Heaven to take his place at the right hand of the Father as your High Priest, Jesus told his disciples just who the Holy Spirit is and why he would be living within the believer. The Apostle John recorded it in the gospel of John chapter 14.

In John 14: 16-17:

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

In verse 19 of that same chapter in John, Christ reaffirms His love for all believers when He says he will not leave us comfortless. He isn’t going to leave you as an orphan. His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is living within you, as close as he can get.

That Comforter, sent to live in you will teach you all things, and bring to your memory when you need them the things that you have already learned from Him. (John 14:26) He is there to protect and guide you. How? It is through knowing, believing, and applying the truth of the Bible, surrender your will (desires) for His. God expects you, as his child to learn of His ways.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29

How can you do that? There is only one way and that’s through the example of Jesus. Jesus came to earth, he was tempted and tried in all the same areas as you and I are everyday, but he did not sin. What was the secret? What was the key? It is no secret. Jesus lived daily to do the will of the Father.

To be able to do that he had to study the Word of God. He was familiar with every part of the Word of God. He memorized parts of the Old Testament so that he might be able to use it to resist the devil in time of temptation. In the book of 1st John, the apostle tells you plainly that if you say that Jesus lives within your heart then you should act like Him.

“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.(talking about Jesus here)
1 John 2: 6

Then Jesus himself, in the gospel of John tells you:

“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”
John 13:16

He was speaking about your attitude toward one another in that verse.
When you choose to become God’s child, you come under the protection of the Almighty. He tells you that no weapon against you will prosper. You have the privilege of being called the sons of God, and a home reserved in Heaven for you, but you also have the responsibility to obey the command to come and line up beside Him and your other brothers so all people will be able to identify which side you are on.

 “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1Peter 1:15)

He knows you can’t do this on your own, but God is merciful and loving. That is why He has sent the Holy Spirit to give you 24 hour access to His strength. He is there, living in you to comfort, strengthen, teach and guide you. As you learn more and more of God’s way and surrender your desires for His, you will become more and more like Jesus: The Holy One. You can win: over your selfish wants and Satan’s pressure. You have His promise. Paul says:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phillipians 4:13

When you listen and surrender your desires and your ways to His desire and His way, you are becoming a person that is holy, and therefore acceptable for God to use.

Monday, May 3, 2010

An Informed Choice

Did you know there is a difference between your own selfish desires and being tempted by Satan? You were born with a nature that just naturally wants to do what “feels good”. For example: Satan doesn’t have to tempt you to lie in bed in the mornings when you should be up getting ready to go to work. We are all naturally lazy.

It is human nature to want to do the things that you enjoy-- just as it is human nature to not want to do those things that you don’t like to do. This rule of man’s nature applies to everyone: men, women and children.
It is when you make a conscious effort to change that old nature that Satan begins to have problems with you. It’s when you make a commitment to God as a Christian that you are willing for Him to work in your life to point out changes that are needed to make you holy like His Son that Satan takes notice of you and views you as a threat to his plan.

What is Satan’s ‘plan’? In Isaiah 14 you are told his plan. You are told his name:Lucifer. This was his name before he became the ‘evil one’ or Satan. His plan is the same as it always has been from the time he decided to stage a rebellion in Heaven and take over the throne of God.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13, 14

This chapter also tells you that Satan or Lucifer weakens the nations. How does he weaken the nations? He does this by weakening the people and rulers living in those nations. When a person is weakened, either through selfishness or other sins, it keeps you from achieving the plan that God has for you. Oh yes, God has a plan for you as well. As the sovereign Creator of all the earth and everything that is in it, God’s plan was that man would be someone whom He could fellowship with: have conversation, spend time with and enjoy. That is still His plan. Unlike Satan’s plan which is to kill steal and destroy everyone and all that he can while he can; God’s plan is for your good and His glory.

The choice is yours. The path is not always easy, but when you choose God’s way, you have the promise of His protection. God is trustworthy. He always keeps His promises.